26 January 1996

Blasting a route to cleaner grain store

IS this the ultimate grain store and dryer cleaning system? Rather than relying on stiff brushes and vacuum cleaners, Tom Martin of Basingstoke-based Country Cures uses compressed air and sand-blasting to return buildings and equipment to pristine condition.

Although the use of compressed air to clean awkward nooks and crannies of dryers and buildings is not new, Mr Martin thinks the addition of sand to remove heavy dust deposits is something of an innovation.

"Compressed air alone is not usually able to deal with dust which has formed a hard, crusty surface. But by incorporating sand into the air stream, heavier deposits are more easily removed. Sand also helps reduce the level of dust generated during cleaning operations," he explains.

But the technique does need to be used with care. Sand is not blasted against the surfaces at short range but from a distance. This creates a gentle scouring effect which compressed air on its own lacks.

Mr Martin uses his sand-blasting technique to clean not only dryers, bins and walls but also roofs.

"We can clean a large grain store roof in about an hour or so with a good forklift driver to get operators in the right places. With a range of lances we can also access most areas without having to use ladders or climb into bins," he says.

A typical grain store takes a day to a day and a half to clean. That compares favourably with at least a week for farm staff to clean the same area.

"It is difficult to say just how long a job will take because it depends upon the level of cleanliness demanded by the customer. But we are able to do a job quicker and more effectively."

A typical job will be to clean the reception pits first and open up all the elevators, running the machinery to empty any full runs. The whole drier is given an initial blow down to remove the worst of the external deposits, followed by a more thorough clean. The final task will include a vacuum and sweep up where a customer requires it.

Mr Martin believes it is the thoroughness of the cleaning which appeals to customers – he was contracted to clean more than 40 stores last year.

In a number of cases, the store is also fumigated by Mr Martin using specialist fumigation equipment. Although he is not critical of smokes as fumigants, using them himself to clear elevators and other confined areas, Mr Martin suggests that professional mist fumigation is more effective.

"By powering the fumigant mist into all the small cracks in a store the efficacy of the job is increased. In practice we find this gives excellent control of store pests."

Charges are up to £400 a day for cleaning and £300 a day for a full fumigation service. &#42

&#8226 Compressed air and sand used to provide gentle scouring effect to tackle hard, crusty deposits.

&#8226 Less dust produced.

&#8226 Range of lances for bins, dryers, walls and roofs.

&#8226 Typical store 1-1.5 days.

&#8226 Over 40 cleaned in 1995.

&#8226 Charges: £400 a day cleaning; £300 a day for fumigation.

The novel service offered by Country Cures of Basingstoke includes light sand-blasting to give grain stores a really thorough clean.