Just as routine silo inspections are an essential component of your maintenance program, so too are routine cleanings. Regularly cleaning your silo can help keep it operating efficiently and limit potential liabilities. Regular cleanings also increase your silo’s usable lifespan, minimize big ticket repairs, and avoid more costly cleaning expenses. Silos that are emptied regularly and refilled will not have the same buildup issues as silos that are kept topped off, but every silo can benefit from a regular cleaning schedule.
Cleaning your silo can save you money in several ways. The primary savings are in recovering stagnant material that has built up inside your silo. This prevents losing that material and the resources — time, energy, labor — that went into storing it. Depending on your material, cleaning also can help prevent degradation or contamination that occurs when material sits too long, thus reducing or destroying its value.
Routine cleaning is necessary to remove the residue buildup inside the silo that reduces the volume of new material that the filled silo can hold. In all silos, cleaning removes old material residue which, in turn, helps maintain the freshness and concentration of the newly introduced material. Every silo, no matter the design or whether it’s steel or concrete, will benefit from a regular cleaning schedule. The benefits of a professional cleaning every year far outweigh the initial costs as this maintenance step keeps your silo running at full capacity, allowing maximum efficiency and leading to more consistent production schedules with no unplanned downtime.
Routine cleaning prolongs the life of your silo. Find out more on how to keep your silo clean and why it’s important to have your silo cleaned.
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Construction, cone angles, and the type of stored material are all factors that influence how material moves through storage silos.
Funnel flow silos are usually more cost effective to construct, costing between 20-30% less than mass flow silos, but are not suitable for all materials.
The flow channel drains material in the middle first. As the silo empties, side material flows into the middle channel. Because of this flow pattern, funnel flow silos that are not emptied completely on a regular basis keep stagnant, or dead, material against the silos walls. Without scheduled emptying, this causes material to build up along the silos walls and leads to issues like ratholing or irregular flow.
Taken together, these factors can enhance particle segregation, limit your live capacity, and cause silo failure. Generally, a funnel flow pattern is only suitable for coarse, free flowing, non-degrading solids when segregation is minimal.
Learn more about Funnel Flow Silos.
Mass flow silos do not experience the same material flow issues as funnel flow silos. Stored materials move down the silo as a column, with no flow channels and the first materials in are the first materials out, providing for a uniform flow.
Mass flow is ideal for materials that are susceptible to segregation based on particle size or density, minimized by the first in, first out flow sequence, with the segregated particles remixing as they discharge. It is an ideal flow pattern for coal or other materials that are combustible or perishable.
Learn more about Mass Flow Silos.
Funnel flow and mass flow are common silo flow patterns. In addition to these two are expanded flow and fluidized flow patterns. Find out more about the different types of concrete silo flow patterns.
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The quality of your stored cement can be compromised by the conditions on top of and inside your cement silo. In fact, no matter the design or the materials stored, silos are susceptible to material flow issues. Material flow that is unimpeded by moisture or other issues is essential for smooth operations and the continued functionality of your silo.
To prevent stored cement from setting inside the silo due to moisture and humidity levels, the structure must be completely watertight. Even the smallest leaks in silo roofs and walls can damage your stored cement and result in material flow issues. Ambient humidity levels can also cause some materials to set. If you do aerate stored materials, it is essential to use an air dryer system to help lower the ambient humidity level in your silo. You should also avoid over aerating stored materials as excess aeration can pump unneeded moist air into the silo, which may lead to hydration of the cement. Hydrating occurs when moisture mixes with stored material and causes it to solidify within the silo (cement is highly susceptible to hydrating). When this happens, the cement can expand and cause added wall pressure, increasing the likelihood of structural failure.
Silo Maintenance Schedules
Verify during inspections that regular preventive maintenance measures are being followed. Essential maintenance includes exterior waterproof coatings and keeping your air pad and air stones in good operational condition. Silo maintenance should also include a routine professional cleaning and regular, complete silo emptying.
Of these measures, one of the most important is regular emptying. Silos that are regularly emptied and refilled are less likely to experience buildup issues that can be seen in silos that are kept topped off. Regularly emptied silos need professional cleaning less frequently and are less likely to experience problems, such as material compacting and hydrating.
The importance of inspecting your silo on a regular basis and making sure your structure is protected from the elements, especially the roof, is the focus of one of our recent case studies, which specifically examines a leaking concrete silo roof, with cement stored inside.
To learn more, be sure to check out our full library of silo inspection videos on silo maintenance, inspection and repair on .