Agriculture, Silos

GE Silos family forges custom silos

GE Silos has had some of its silos in use for more than 40 years. ABHR spoke with the company’s managing director to find out the secret to the company’s storage success.

GE Silos has had some of its silos in use for more than 40 years. ABHR spoke with the company’s managing director to find out the secret to the company’s storage success.

In 1978, Noel and Brian Comer converted their father’s shearing shed into a workshop to begin making and modifying farm equipment. 

Originally known as Comer Brothers, the company was approached by a customer to build a silo. Even though they were under-equipped for the challenge (the shed was too small to handle such a project), the brothers didn’t shy away.

This would be the start of a generations-long tradition. Jason Comer, Noel’s son, has grown up as part of the business, working in and around the family company since he was 12.

He told ABHR that custom silos remain the key part of the business, which is now named GE silos.

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“Every farm operates differently and needs silos that will suit the applications,” he said.

“Whether the farmer needs the silo to fit into a certain space, or to handle a certain type of material, or if it needs a particular ladder or walkway.”

The first step is working closely with the customer to find out exactly what they are looking for in a silo. 

Comer said that many clients call up looking for a standard silo and don’t realise the options available to them.

What is being stored, for how long, and how will it be emptied are all important questions that GE Silos asks. After the engineering team has a solid understanding of the project, they can provide a concept drawing and explore several solutions before beginning the manufacturing process.

The company manufactures around 300 silos a year and has developed a tried-and-tested process that starts with shaping the cone by welding together flat sheets of Zincalume steel. The combined sheet is then formed into a cone shape ready to be fixed into a steel frame.

Every cone is built by hand, which means the company can build almost any configuration.

“While the cone is being shaped, we start building the frame of the silo,” Comer said. “Most frames include one or two rolled steel rings connected by a specified number of legs depending on the size of the silo.

“Our frames are one of the most oft-customised parts of the silo, with many customers asking for outlet height and frame feature changes.

“Next, we connect the cone to the frame, forming the base of the silo. Then the manhole, outlet, and bag chute are attached, along with any other attachments for the base. We have a range of standard chutes and outlets, but more often than not we are building the silo with a unique set of attachments chosen by the customer.”

While this process is happening, white-painted galvanised sheets are cut into sections shaped with valleys and ridges to form the roof. The upper silo is attached to the base, and the finishing touches are then added.

All the silos are engineered to ensure they meet the right requirements for wind, seismic conditions, and static loading.

GE Silos also delivers the silos to the client and helps with the installation process. This may even involve shifting other silos on site.

The company focuses primarily on custom silos and can handle a vast range of potential projects.

“The smallest we make is 5.8 tonnes, with the largest being a row of 135-tonne silos with conveyor access across the top and a space for a conveyor underneath,” Comer said. “That’s proved to be a popular request – we’re now designing our silos to carry conveyors and walkways on top of them. It came from a customer request, which we’re now offering to others. We’re always looking for ways to continue improving our products.” 

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