Sunday, October 2, 2016

Steel Grain Bins: Emptying

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I presume that concrete silos were built with conic (funnel) shaped bottoms so that all of the grain would flow into the hole in the middle of the bottom to the conveyor belt that ran along the bottom of the silos.

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But steel bins are built with a flat floor. Many, such as this one, have a horizontal auger in the foundation so that they can be unloaded by a hole in the middle of the floor. Note the guard over the hole. If someone got caught in the flow of the grain leaving the bin, they could stand on the guard to stop their descent rather than have a foot go all the way down into the moving auger. (The bin is rather empty because this picture was taken at the end of July. It looks like it is now being used for the temporary storage of various grains until the next harvest season.)

So manufactures have developed a hand carried auger that can be used to push radially around the bin along the bottom to move grain to the hole. (This video also has a nice closeup of the twin auger hopper that is used to feed the type of elevator auger that I saw at the 2016 Will County Threshermen's Show.
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Another example of the elevator auger design.)
This video shows the radial auger periodically getting pushed further around the bin.

In this video, the radial auger doesn't seem to contact the floor so they have to do some scoop shovel work. Before augers, life was gravity dump wagons and a lot of shoveling. Note that they have already emptied some grain out of the bin into grain trailers. These would be the same grain wagons they use during harvest season to unload the combine. So when the truck does arrive, they can load it faster by pouring in grain from multiple auger wagons. This reduces the time the truck driver has to spend at the farm waiting for the truck to be loaded.

 A timelapse video of cleaning out a bin.

A more expensive alternative to the radial auger is sucking the grain out. If a bin does not have an auger from a center hole, this is the only alternative to a scoop shovel.

Screenshot, skip to 1:44 to see it work
Video of a Brandt GrainVac 5200EX in action.

If you search You Tube for "cleaning grain bins" you can find more videos, including more vacuum solutions: Walinga Grain-Vac 7614F and Rem 2100 GranVac. The Walinga is a little different because it blows the grain up into a truck rather than use an auger.
This video has a better overall shot of a Walinga Agri-Fac 6614 Deluxe. Skip to 7:20 to see the grain being sucked into the hose. You can tell by how the corn is piled that this bin does not have a center unload hole and auger to the side like some of the other bins we have seen. Since the bin was unloaded by putting an auger through the door, there is a lot more residual grain to remove.


There are a couple of serious grain vacuum trucks in this 1.6million bushel grain recovery operation.
In 2018, GSI will totally automate unloading by using air bladders on the bottom of the bin.
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Some of the photos in a Sukup album (source) show the unloader in a 2018 world's largest bin. Some of the comments indicate that they stole the design of another manufacturer.

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