Whether your silo is being used for grain, flour, cement, chemicals, oil, sugar or salt it can suffer from blockage or clogging. That’s why professional silo cleaners are an ideal solution when it comes to keeping your silo pristine and in good working condition.
Silos can be cleaned by a number of different methods, but the most common process consists of brushing down the sides of the interior and scraping any debris away. To avoid scratching the surface and to prevent sparking, plastic scrapers can be used.
Although it seems simple, the process is quite complex and it takes some practice and preparation. Safety has to be a priority because multiple hazards are a risk factor, including falls, explosions, lack of oxygen and drowning in liquid or finely-milled products like flour and sugar. A silo is an OSHA-defined ‘confined space’. This means that workers in it have to follow standard safety procedures for enclosed hazardous areas.
Proper breathing precautions must be considered where dust, volatile chemicals or oxygen scarcity can occur. Food storage silos typically have platforms or cages built in at the top so workers have access for cleaning and servicing. On rare occasions, these cages can have breaks in them that can be masked by a coating of flour or sugar. A worker should fully inspect these and ensure that he’s wearing a suitable harness before entering the cage.
In some silos, there is an open space at the top instead of a cage. In this instance, a worker will need to be lowered down in a ‘bosun’s chair’. This will either have a motor or will be operated by hand. Whenever a bosun’s chair is used, it is secured on the outside of the silo. OSHA safety standards must always be followed when using this kind of equipment.
No matter what cleaning method is used, an opening at the top of the silo is vital for access and (in some cases) ventilation. An opening at the base of the silo is also crucial for draining out product which has been cleaned from the silo. In some cases, there are no access doors at either end and they have to be installed.
Vacuuming is a common method of cleaning debris from the bottom. However, this can stir up a lot of static electricity around certain materials (for example, flour) and visible sparks can occur. One way to reduce this risk is to attach wooden poles to vacuum hoses in order to ground them. Silos are usually cleaned without water, but in some cases, wet cleaning is the only method available.