Surge Bin Cleaning: Getting Material Moving Again

The production of Ethanol depends on a steady supply of corn. An interruption in corn supply can cause costly downtime and damage supplies. Corn first enters the ethanol production process through surge bins. These dedicated bins occupy the upper half of 200 to 300-feet tall concrete storage silos. Their function is to ensure the material in the lower portion of the silo is consistently made available to maintain constant operation. Grain is never intended for long-term storage in surge bins, but rather to act as a source to keep the corn moving without having to be fed into the silo continuously.

The grain that enters surge bins often comes directly from farmers’ fields, so it can be excessively dirty or wet. Grain in this condition can easily lead to buildup or blockage. The more buildup that is present, the less storage capacity that exists in the surge bin to keep the grain flowing below. Continuing to operate at a reduced capacity is less efficient, and the compromised condition of the grain can result in a drop in quality of the ethanol.

Understanding a Complete Silo Shutdown

Thorough surge bin cleanouts require a complete shutdown, so it is important the project is completed as quickly as possible and done right the first time. Mole∙Master has been cleaning surge bins all over the world for more than 35 years and is equipped with the tools and experience necessary to conquer the most difficult silo cleaning challenges quickly, safely and effectively.

Every silo and bin cleaning project requires a sense of urgency, but because a surge bin cleanout typically requires a complete shutdown, getting the project completed quickly is even more important. These silo shutdowns typically last three to five days, and Mole∙Master technicians work around the clock to expedite the jobs. The primary tools and methods required generally include the proprietary Big∙Mole System, industrial vacuum systems, and OSHA-compliant confined space entry.

Serious Tools for Serious Silo Cleanout Projects

The Mole∙Master Big∙Mole silo cleaning service dramatically reduces project downtime in top-to-bottom cleaning of grain silos. Material is quickly and thoroughly freed and readied for further processing or loadout and lost storage capacity is recovered to 100% of planned capacity. The completely dry process eliminates any potential water damage to the material or facility and reduces cleanup costs. The Big∙Mole system utilizes non-sparking equipment that is mandatory for dusty or potentially hazardous environments.

Many surge bin cleaning projects at ethanol processing facilities require that multiple Mole∙Master technicians work simultaneously around the clock to get the job completed as quickly as possible. OSHA-compliant confined space entry is often required for these projects in addition to the Big Mole system. Mole∙Master technicians maintain the absolute highest levels of training, complying with MSHA requirements and all OSHA regulations for confined space entry. Every project begins with a safety meeting to review possible hazards, emergency procedures and site-specific factors. A Lock-Out/Tag-Out procedure ensures that each Mole∙Master technician and plant employee is aware of every power source and that all equipment is tested to ensure it is shut down properly.

A Fast Return to Full Capacity

During a full maintenance shutdown, the conveying system cannot be used to move existing material. Mole∙Master utilizes a fleet of high-volume industrial vacuum trucks for efficient and effective removal of material. Once a surge bin cleanout is complete, the facility is returned to planned capacity and regularly scheduled production with any major supply chain interruptions being minimized or completely avoided.

Contact the experts at Mole∙Master to discuss the best approach to solve your silo or bin cleanout and production needs.