Thursday 18th Aug, 2022

Ahrens’ industrial and rural infrastructure a standout

Strong demand for Australian-made industrial and rural infrastructure storage systems continues to keep Ahrens in the spotlight.

Ahrens, a family-owned South Australian company, credits its quality steel products and complete in-house capabilities for securing big-ticket infrastructure and rural storage projects.

Engineered to strict Australian standards for commercial and rural applications, the company’s infrastructure solutions extend to industrial bulker systems, which dramatically help to increase agribusinesses’ storage capacity.

Landmark solutions

Ahrens’ in-house capabilities helped it to secure prominent industrial infrastructure work for projects such as Viterra’s recently opened facility at Lara, Victoria, and rural infrastructure work for SA agribusiness CK Tremletts, based in Sheoak Log.

Viterra’s multi-million-dollar bulk storage warehouse and outload facility was built from the ground up to provide an efficient supply chain for end use customers in Victoria.

Ahrens Managing Director Stefan Ahrens, a fourth-generation member of the family business, said his team was instructed to deliver on a comprehensive system, requiring a 250-tonne outload per hour.

“The new facility’s footprint is over 11,500m2 and will provide Viterra in excess of 67,000m3 of storage space along with the capability to outload products at a rate of 250 tonnes per hour as requested,” he said.

The warehouse features a 67-metre span custom engineered beam, internal concrete push walls and material-handling outload equipment.

“Ahrens Steel provided all the structural steel needs for the project and our grain storage and handling division provided the associated outload equipment,” he said.

“It’s fair to say this work has helped to showcase our complete project management capabilities within the Victorian market.”

Ahrens’ partnership with CK Tremletts’ $5.7 million-plus project helped to significantly grow its grain storage capacity, all the while applying cost effective design solutions.

With delivery of large site constructed silos undertaken across three stages, the final facility comprised 16 x 2,600 tonne flat bottom silos.

Each are equipped with aeration and level indicators, with 150 tonne per hour unload systems, plus in-built sweep augers and inclined powerheads.

“Our scope of work included concrete foundations incorporating ‘H’ style flush floor aeration, two 300 tonne per hour bucket elevators, with six-way distributors and associated chute work, and transfer conveyors and structural support towers with access ladder,” Stefan said.

Impressively, the project increased their total storage capacity by 41,600 tonnes and offers Tremletts the ability to unload two trucks simultaneously with differing commodities at a rate of 300 tonnes per hour.

The final stage of the upgrade led to four more silos added to the existing bank of silos at the eastern end of the facility.

Lastly, Ahrens used the natural slopping ground level to Tremletts’ advantage and were able to increase the silo capacity by 200 tonnes per silo while replicating the infrastructure and concept of the previous stages.

Solid footprint

Stefan said company growth in the late 1990s helped to spark Ahrens’ profile as serious manufactures of industrial and rural infrastructure storage systems within the Australian market.

“In 1998 we acquired the silo manufacturing and distribution businesses of Sherwell in South Australia and Victoria and in 2002 we acquired Webster’s Silos in Queensland,” he said.

Ahrens’ portfolio includes bulker systems, grain storage and handling complexes, material handling systems, augers and conveyors, feeders and field bins through to transportable silos and site constructed flat bottom silos.

“The standard which differentiates us from our competitors is, the steel products we manufacture are made to withstand Australian conditions, they are manufactured locally in our sites and delivered to clients either fully assembled or ready for site construction,” Stefan said. 

Rural investments

The increased production of quality grains and efficient post-harvest management of grains has helped to grow the use of Ahrens’ transportable silos and flat bottom silos.

According to General Manger of Ahrens Rural Aaron Bain, in 2021 his division delivered about 20 per cent more rural silos than on the previous calendar year.

“Farmers were wanting to store more grain on-farm, and as a result our 1,000 to 1,500 tonne flat bottom silos proved popular,” Bain said.

Attributing their supply chain and complete in-house services as their core strengths, Bain said Ahrens’ roll forming lines for their flat bottom silos further helps to heavily reduce lead times.

“It helps to give us greater control in a competitive market,” he said.

“Our in-house capabilities also provide us greater versatility – especially as demands increase – for individual silos or complete grain storage systems to suit all types of grain fertiliser, dairy and seed and feeds.”

Valuable assets

“With grains an essential lifeblood needed to fuel the world, our industrial and rural infrastructure will continue to play a prominent role in helping to achieve prime grain protection across Australia,” Stefan said.

“Due to our workmanship, quality steel and our branding, we can continue to make solid investment decisions into the future.

“It’s also gratifying that our vision to be ‘brand sought’ around the nation continues to grow with rapid movement.”

Yet Stefan and Bain agree, Ahrens’ industrial and rural infrastructure storage system successes also ride on their people.

“Our greatest asset is having the workforce that we value and who adopt these jobs at their own,” Stefan said.