Agribusiness & Food, Engineering, Mining and Heavy Industries

Manufacturing the modern silo

Nelson Silos has had to expand its manufacturing facilities to keep up with demand for its easy-to-maintain silos. ABHR speaks with one of the company’s directors to learn more.

Lindsay Nelson was 21 when he started his business in a small town in country Victoria in 1962.

Working in an empty shed, he designed the product that would grow into burgeoning family business – a transportable grain silo. The product proved popular with the local market and Lindsay soon had to build a multi-million-dollar engineering complex to keep up with demand.

One of the Nelson Silo’s current directors, Eric Nelson, said the company has been designing silos to increase safety and efficiency for bulk material handlers.

A development the company has engineered is an integrated roofdeck silo for feedmills.

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“Stockfeed processing plants need to store proteins and various types of substances, as well as grains, to create the final product,” Nelson said.

“To integrate these materials, they needed to be able to transfer from silos with conveyors and bucket elevators.

“Previous to our design, most feedmill plants were structures made from robust steel structures to hold the weight of that equipment. This meant the silo needed to support several catwalks, conveyors and elevators.”

Nelson Silos began working to integrate these walkways into the silo roof itself. The design does away with walkways, instead using one industrial safety ladder or stairway that leads to the roofdeck.

This increases the amount of room available for maintenance staff and provides easier access to the sides of silos for cleaning. The roof itself complies with the Australian Standards and has a five-degree slope for water egress.

The company fully welds and paints the silo with non-slip paint to reduce the chance of falls.

Nelson said the company offers a full range of silos, from bulk grain to outloading and more, all designed to meet the needs of the customer.

“Usually, customers have a pretty good idea of what they’re looking to get out of a silo when they come to us,” he said.

“If they don’t, we can walk them through the different options and show them some of our existing installations to help them get an idea of what they need.”

One of Nelson Silo’s recent projects is an ammonium nitrate facility in Muswellbrook, WA. The material’s hydroscopic nature makes is difficult to store for long periods, meaning the ammonium nitrate needs to be always circulating.

The company built the silos from stainless steel, along with bucket elevators and chutes, with mechanical vibrators to improve material flow.

Ammonium nitrate is also highly explosive, which is why Nelson Silos ensured there was no possibility of the material encountering an ignition source.

Nelson said the silos also featured a walkaround roofdeck to make maintenance easier.

“The silo is elevated with a bucket silo that goes directly to trucks underneath,” he said. 

“Two screw conveyors are located underground, so the trucks can pour material out into a shallow outloading pit.

“These conveyors can move the ammonium nitrate faster than the truck can tip it, so that moisture can’t get in.”

Demand for Nelson Silos’ products has meant the company has once again needed to upgrade its manufacturing facilities, with a new assembly plant planned for northern NSW. 

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