With an area spanning half of a football pitch and an impressive height of 42.5 metres, contained within a 64-metre-high building, the silo we are currently building is Sky High. In fact, it will become the largest steel square silo in Europe. While we are literally reaching to great heights with this project, it really put us to the test. We pushed ourselves to the limits, with both feet firmly on the ground, to realise a silo of this scale. Wondering how this ambitious plan came about and what makes it so unique?
Constructing square silos; that’s where our expertise lies. Our team of 25 professionals, office and production staff alike, enjoys a challenge and is always on the lookout for groundbreaking solutions. When we were invited to build two relatively small silos in Germany several years ago, we gladly embraced the opportunity. The silos had to be built within an existing structure, and there was limited space in the hall. This meant that we had to design a truly remarkable construction. Other companies shied away from the idea, but we decided to invest our energy in it. With success – we supplied two suitable silos and demonstrated our working methods to the client; room for tailor-made work and groundbreaking solutions.
It was during this project that the client announced its plans for the construction of a gigantic silo for the storage of grains. Confidence had already been gained by the first project, so the plans were discussed with us straightaway. We were, of course, curious why such a large silo had to be built, as this is unique in its own right. The client explained that he purchases grain within a radius of approx. 250 km in Germany for the production of flour for bakeries. This grain is harvested, purchased, cleaned and stored once a year and processed into flour throughout the year. The storage of these grains (such as wheat, rye, spelt and oats) must meet high food safety requirements, which must be taken into account during the construction of the silo. Lastly, the client stated that limited space was available for building the silo. All in all, it was logical that we had to build upwards and that the client was clearly well advised to opt for a square silo.
The advantages of this?
To give you an idea of the scope of the project, in 2016 we released the first sketches for Sky High, and in July 2021 the first grains will go into storage. It is a project of continuous challenges, simply because we are exploring new territory – and we’re all having a lot of fun along the way.
Naturally, it all started with preparing a suitable quotation. Normally we can fast-track this part and get straight to business. This time we were in for a long haul. Sketching and designing, presenting proposals, asking and answering questions, followed by further development. The project became ever larger; for example, with the addition of flour cells made of stainless steel. We enjoyed our client’s confidence from the outset. Not only because we had worked together before, but above all, because we had carefully calculated everything from the start, presented supporting static information and were able to give a competitive price with technical solutions without having to compromise on quality.
Our main challenge was to break through the conventional height generally applicable to silos. You can imagine that certain proportions are required for the dimensions of the silo’s cells (compartments). Technically we knew that it shouldn’t be a problem to build higher, the ‘problem’ was in the columns. These have a maximum load-bearing capacity. If you want to build higher, you need more load-bearing capacity. We needed to go from a load-bearing capacity of 250 tons per column to a capacity of more than 500 tons per column. A good measure of engineering brilliance was involved, but we managed to develop new columns. Not only a milestone for this project, but undoubtably a new standard for future projects as well.
For this complex project, elements were rediscovered and redesigned. Bear in mind that there are some 3.5 million parts and components in the structure. Recently, two lorries arrived at our doorstep, filled with bolts and nuts just for this silo. Each detail is gigantic. If you walk into our storage depot, you’ll find walls as if it were a large warehouse. It’ s hard to imagine that this is all for the same silo. Typically, we make between 100 and 1500 walls for a silo. This Sky High will soon consist of more than 10,000 walls. When the quotation was approved, production was launched directly to have the project finished on time. In February 2021, the roof must be in place so that the machine parts can be assembled, and the 2021 harvest can be stored from July onwards.
It’s great to see how everything is coming together. The steel construction under the silo is now complete, and the hoppers have been assembled. We have taken steps to ensure that we can provide new ‘standard’ solutions in the future. Our expertise is all the more extensive now, thanks to the challenge and incentive that Sky High has offered us. But no matter how complex this project may be, we didn’t think for a moment that we wouldn’t succeed.
Are you in doubt about a round or square silo? We can tell you exactly what the advantages of a square are.