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Bulk grain storage at ports

Published by , Editorial Assistant
Dry Bulk,

Chief Industries, based in Maldon, Essex, is a member of the Chief Industries Inc. group of companies, which consists of eight core companies and a number of divisions. Chief has manufacturing facilities in the United Kingdom, the USA and France, and employs almost 2000 people.

Projects range from small to large farm installations, millers, livestock producers, large government and commercial strategic storage plants, to large port installations.

By designing complexes of a number of silos, the grain storage and drying possibilities are infinite.

The benefits of storing and drying grain in a controlled environment should not be underestimated.

For Chief, the farmer who wants one small silo is just as important as the customer who wants a large port installation, and the same care is taken over design and installation.

Manufactured from high quality galvanised steel, the company's storage installations last for many decades and are the most economical and safest way of storing and preserving the quality of grain.

The company’s range includes:

  • Silos up to 35 000 t.
  • Dryers to 400 tph.
  • Cleaners to 400 tph.
  • Conveying to 2000 tph.

When planning grain storage at a port facility many factors will influence the choice of storage system. Whether you are importing, or exporting grain, or both, you will need grain storage. Ships need to be unloaded, or loaded, at high capacity rates with the need for storage of large volumes of grain either immediately on unloading, or prior to loading. Usually the movement away from the storage facility, or the transport to the storage facility, will be slower and with smaller amounts of bulk despatch, or arrival, at each occasion. The frequency and size of the ships for unloading, or loading, considered together with the frequency and size of the despatches, or arrivals, of grain at the terminal will determine the quantity of the storage to be provided.

Having decided the quantity of storage to be provided then the other features of the storage plant must be considered. If ships are being unloaded then probably the requirement for cleaning of the grain will be relatively minimal and perhaps restricted to some minor dust control.If the purchase agreement of the grain has been to a specific standard of cleanliness to which the supplier has had to conform, then the port merely has to ensure that the standard received is maintained until time of despatch to the purchaser. On the other hand a port is despatching the grain onto ships then it will have to ensure that a specific standard of cleanliness is met at all times, despite varying qualities of local deliveries to the port. Therefore a cleaning facility will be required at a port loading ships. This cleaning should be done at the time the grain is received at the port, and to match the planned intake capacity of the grain. In addition, an accurate, high capacity, weighing facility will be essential to ensure a legally documented bill can be produced, confirming the quantity of grain loaded onto the ship.

Since design criteria are actually different whether the ship is unloaded, or loaded, it becomes a critical issue to decide whether the port is to be used for unloading, or loading, of ships, or both. So often a decision is made that a port will only be used for one task, only to find a few years down the line that actually circumstances have changed and they want to be able to have the alternative usage. It is never so easy to change an existing design, so rather make the decision at the outset that the alternative usage could be required and have the provision built into the original design. Supply of port storage facilities is a hugely competitive business and no potential supplier is ever going to deliberately make himself more expensive than his competition by providing any additional facilities above those which the client has requested. Therefore, the client must be careful to request all the optional operation tasks that he wishes to include, even if his initial requirement is only for loading or unloading ships.

The two main alternative types of storage available at ports are warehouses, or silos. Warehouse storage is usually restricted to ship unloading situations since it is possible to load a warehouse at high capacity, whereas unloading a warehouse at sufficient capacity for ship loading is a very expensive operation. A warehouse does have the advantage however of being suitable for a wider range of products, for example beyond free flowing grain. Virtually any product that can be unloaded from a ship onto a conveyor, for filling a warehouse, and then later scooped up by a front end loader can be stored in a warehouse.

Grain storage silos, however, are much more versatile for both un-loading and loading ships, but they need dry free flowing products. With suitable precautions they can be loaded, or unloaded, mechanically at high capacities, with no need for expensive running of front end loaders. If required they can be suitably equipped for safe long term storage if required. They are suited for free flowing materials, specifically grain, although with relatively expensive modification to unloading systems they can be adapted to some less free flowing materials, such as wood pellets, etc, as an example.

Chief Industries have a wide experience of port installations, of what can and can’t be done. They have operated for many years in many parts of the world. They have the experience within the group to provide expert advice on the planning of port storage installation and can be accessed on and

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