Silos form an important function in the supply chain for a number of materials that, as consumers, we use on a daily schedule. Wherever you may travel around the globe, you’re never far from a silo storage unit, harbouring crops and other materials for when we need them.
Did you know that early ancient civilisations such as the Mesopotamians and the Assyrians were the first people to use silos for storing grain?
What is a Silo used for?
The easy answer is storage, but the truth is that there are hundreds of different variations of silos, from grain silos to silos that contain valuable mined materials. The different kinds of silos are built according to the materials being stored and the concerns of the business. Nowadays you’ll commonly find tower silos. These silos can store a variety of different materials and are known for being identifiable on flat farming landscapes for their verticle towering form. Other forms of silos are the rarer bunker silos and bag silos used in a number of specialised agriculture and mining industries.
Different Kinds of Tower Silos: tower silos come in many different sizes, but all tend to be cylindrical and tall structures. Silos differ most often with regards to their loading and unloading platforms. Some silos have multiple unloading points, while others have unloading systems created specifically for unloading into truck-mounted container platforms. Concrete grain elevators are the most common tower silos and are found all over the globe storing grain from local farming communities. These concrete stave silos can even be disassembled, and reassembled in a different location.
Some concrete silos are so tall that they reach 100 metres into the air, although these silos are incredibly rare.
Low-oxygen tower silos are also being used throughout the world for all forms of storage. This method of storage reduces contamination with regards to atmosphere exposure. The inside of the tower is lined with a bag silo, and during the day the warm air created by the materials stored is removed as the bag collapses inwardly.
Loading and Unloading a Silo
Loading a silo is often much easier than removing the stored materials. For loading purposes, material is added to a hopper that funnels material into the top of the silo opening. The hopper often has blades that aid in the loading process. Unloading a silo depends on the materials being stored and the unloading platform being used. Some silos (most often those containing liquids or very fine materials) have bottom unloaders, releasing materials from the silos because of the total weight of the material being pushed down.
Most silos, however, have an unloader installed. These are incredibly complex devices, and are heavy and cylindrical in shape. The unloader sits on top of the stored material and when rotated the attached blades push the material to the sides of the silo where the matter falls through silo doors. The material can then fall onto a conveyor system where it can be processed or transported.
Silos are very dangerous heavy engineering units. Although the concept of material storage is simple, the weight of the material and activities associated with material storage makes working with these machines incredibly dangerous. While efforts are being made to automate as many of the silo processes as possible, there are still many dangers present, especially during the cleaning and maintenance of storage units.
We hope that we’ve answered your question of “what is a silo used for” in brief detail, and remember to speak to a team of professional and specialised silo maintenance experts for more information regarding these incredible structures!