Inspection is Worth the Time and Effort
Many of the silos still in use today date back to the 1940s, and many have never had a proper structural silo inspection or any serious maintenance. After all, it’s a big, concrete cylinder. What could happen to it, right?
Wrong. Very wrong. Time, weather and use all degrade the structural integrity of a silo. Sometimes, the damage is easy to see; many times it’s not.
Concerns about silo safety are complicated by the fact that OSHA doesn’t have specific guidelines for maintaining the structural integrity of silos.
The end result is that every day people go to work in environments that are patently unsafe. And then the inevitable occurs, a silo collapses, operations are disrupted, facilities are damaged, human lives are irreversibly affected.
A silo inspection by certified professional engineers can help stave off such incidents. A thorough silo inspection includes visual observation of the silo walls from the ground or nearby structures using binoculars as well as up-close observations of select locations of the exterior surface of the silo walls.
Structural engineering firms devise their own detailed, professional silo inspection checklists to ensure a thorough, in-depth review of every silo. But you can use this simplified list to ensure the structural engineer performing your inspection includes important components like:
1. Documentation of:
a) The cracking patterns in the walls, including measurements of selected crack widths
b) Existing areas of delaminated wall concrete – a hammer will be employed to check for the presence of delaminated areas, using audible sound echoes and fingertip sensing
c) Any visible defects or problem areas in the reclaim areas
d) Any visible defects or problem areas of the silo roof, including visible beam seat areas
e) The condition of the wall, roof and hopper inside of select silos
2. An assessment of the structural condition of the silo structures
3. Recommendations regarding necessary:
b) Operational changes
c) Re-design or structural modifications
4. An opinion on the long-term condition and stability of the silos
Aside from following a thorough silo inspection checklist, a reputable structural engineer also may interview key facility personnel to determine silo usage history and intended future use and then prepare a written report that summarizes the field observations of the silos.
Of course, silo inspections are just one part of the equation. Once a silo’s structural integrity has been assessed, regular maintenance will go a long way toward preventing devastating and potentially fatal collapses.
For more than a quarter of a century, Mole•Master™ has been a leading provider of silo- and bin- cleaning equipment, services and inspections.