Agriculture, Silos

Supporting farmers for more than 120 years

ABHR talks to Mirela Vuckic, Ahrens Group general manager for silos, to learn how the family business is supporting Australian bulk handling with its flat bottom silos.

The year 1902 was a historic one. Brisbane was officially declared a city, most women were given the right to vote, and the Federation Drought was coming to an end.

It was also the year in which Wilhelm Ahrens, a blacksmith in the Barossa Valley, established his family business. A lot has changed in the past 120 years, as the business flourished into a full-service construction, manufacturing, rural infrastructure, mining, and engineering company.

Mirela Vuckic, Ahrens Group general manager for silos, told ABHR that at the end of the day, the family-owned business is solely focused on supporting and creating value for rural communities across Australia through their product offering and community engagement.

To do that, the company prides itself on its in-depth consulting and “genuine listening”.

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“We need to be actively listening to what clients need throughout their journey as it helps inform us in ensuring we achieve optimal results for them in what we do,” she said. 

“That information feeds and encompasses all facets of what we do from product operation and features, innovation in design and process, as well as overall project outcomes. 

“We want to nail the brief in every interaction we have and have clients which trust us to get this right, every time.”

Ahrens works to ensure its customers have a seamless experience from the first enquiry point through to the delivery and installation process. Due to the diversification of Ahrens, they have the capability to quickly mobilise its teams across the country to ensure all clients have a consistent service experience.

Ahrens’ silo division is supported by other branches of the business, giving Ahrens access to a broad set of skills and varying knowledge specialisations which ensure each project is scoped and delivered to the client’s expectations. 

When combined with the company’s localised manufacturing capabilities, it provides versatility that allows Ahrens to support a broader scope of work with varying requirements. 

Vuckic said Ahrens’ specific efforts in optimising process, product design, and service delivery means that clients are truly working with a partner who is looking to support them with the most optimal product outcomes for their requirements.

“We genuinely love to see farmers thriving and our solutions helping them get there,” she said.

“Our silos are designed in-house with the end user in mind and allow for ease and versatility in use. From being built with Australian made steel to suit our conditions, a GasLock system to control pests and ground operated controls making them safe and easy to use. We offer varying aeration options to suit the specifics of the project, and pride ourselves on a shorter lead time vs our competitors in getting silos installed before key harvest windows.

“We guarantee our silo workmanship with an industry-leading five-year warranty and are backed by experienced local teams. Additionally, Ahrens staff are available to help with long-term planning for grain storage to ensure that any initial installations allow for expansion to meet future needs as required.”

Flat bottom silos

One of the more popular types of silos that Ahrens provides is its range of flat bottom silos. Ranging in size from 700 to more than 2000 tonnes, the silos are ideal for farmers that are looking to scale up their on-farm storage. 

Vuckic said on average, the dollar per tonne investment is more efficient than smaller, transportable silos, and allows for larger bulk storage in a controlled environment.

Ahrens service a large range of clients from broadacre farmers and feed mills, through to varying commercial applications. The silos have also been installed as part of a wider grain handling equipment solution in supporting specific handling processes required around their storage.

“Flat bottom silos allow clients to store larger volumes of their grain and market it for sale when the pricing for their commodity is at an optimum range,” Vuckic said.

“This means they can realise more revenue for their crop and farm as it eliminates middlemen and offsite storage costs, as well as achieving healthy return on investment on their silos year on year.”

All Ahrens flat bottom silos are gas-tight sealed to AS2628 standards, which allows for effective fumigation of insect pests. This means that grain can be stored for longer periods of time while supporting maintain the original grain quality. The silos are also designed to include aeration and fumigation systems which allow clients to control the conditions their grain is being stored in, maintain their quality during this time, and ultimately facilitate the selling or use of their commodity when the timing suits.

Every silo across the company’s entire range is manufactured in Australia. Vuckic said this has been extremely important to ensure the company can control all areas from materials, fabrication, quality assurance and delivery.

“It means our clients are getting the right product for Australian conditions, and we are meeting expectations in our market. We have gone above and beyond to ensure our design considerations are optimal across varying consideration points including longevity, function, product performance and ease of operation,” she said.

After sales support is one of the key pillars for the company. Ahrens has a national footprint, so it can quickly service and support rural clients across various remote locations. It also maintains dedicated sales, installation, and service teams to help with the handover post sale, ad-hoc queries, as well as being available for preventative maintenance advice and service in ensuring Ahrens silos continue to provide value over their long product lifespan.

Vuckic said the core focus for Ahrens going forward is to continue supporting Australian farmers.

“We are focused on continuing to create value, whether that be through new value adds to market, or continuous improvement on our existing products and services,” she said.

“We are striving to always improve our efficiencies, design, cost base and service and pass on those benefits to our clients. We are a company with a proud history and will continue to support our local communities and industry long into the future.” 

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