Keeping Your Silos Clean And Operational

The nationwide heatwave has jump-started the UK into harvest season and is a reminder of how important it is to keep silos properly cleaned and maintained.

The crucial role that silos play in the food and agricultural industry is often overlooked. As well as providing bulk storage for essential supplies such as flour, sugar, grain and animal feed, they protect these commodities in a stable environment to reduce the risk of spoilage from contamination.

Regular cleaning of silos prevents the build-up of product residues on internal surfaces, which can create the ideal conditions for microbial growth. This growth can lead to spoilage of stored commodities or worse still contamination that could cause serious and costly problems for farmers and food manufacturers.

As silos are very large and often dangerous structures, cleaning them is not a simple process. Here are a few best practice guidelines to follow to keep your silos clean and functional:

1. Leave it to the experts

Although the techniques used to clean a silo are straightforward, actually completing the job is far from it. Specialist cleaning teams that are fully trained in confined space entry, emergency escape and the correct use of appropriate equipment should be engaged. These teams can typically be brought in at short notice and can ensure that silo downtime is kept to a minimum. Given that the slightest spoilage could drastically impact the quality of the yield and therefore the price at which it will be sold, engaging a specialist also makes commercial sense.

2. Health and safety must come first

The health and safety of cleaning operatives is paramount when cleaning silos, as there is a high risk of injury or fatality if suitable equipment and procedures are not in place. Ensuring the use of the correct ATEX rated intrinsically safe equipment is crucial, especially when working with dusty food stuffs such as flour, as the potential for a spark from electrical equipment to ignite dust and cause an explosion is a very real possibility.

The cleaning process can also result in a large quantity of dust, which can increase the cleaners’ risk of lung conditions. P3 particle masks are therefore essential for anyone conducting a silo clean.

3. Have someone on the inside

A team of three is standard when cleaning a silo. An entry technician is typically winched into the main chamber and supported by a winchman. The third person is on hand to record gas readings and assist in case of an emergency. The air must always be tested with a gas detector before entering the silo, as it may be oxygen deficient and dangerous to enter. Ventilation is important and can make all the difference to reducing the amount of product that could stick to the sides of the silo.

4. Let the cleaning commence

Once specialist operatives are safely in the right place, the actual process of cleaning the silo is relatively straightforward, the same as cleaning any large storage area. It involves dry brushing, scraping and the removal of waste. The only real challenge is the difficulties presented by the specific commodity. For example, sugar can set like concrete, and flour is prone to clinging onto the side of the silo creating a thick layer of flour suspended in mid-air, which can bridge across the silo and then empty beneath.

If you require a safe, and efficient silo cleaning service, why not talk to an expert at Rentokil Specialist Hygiene?