30 June 2000

Upgrade is cost-effective move on multi-site estate

Need an all-new grain store?

Not necessarily. Re-fitting

existing facilities may be a

more cost-effective option

for some. Peter Hill reports

FOUR factors determine whether a grain drying, handling and storage complex has outlived its usefulness – location, capacity, function and condition, according to Bill Bird of Berks-based storage installation specialist BK Grain.

Short of dismantling and re-building elsewhere, there is little that can be done to improve the location of an existing store. But with careful planning and design, capacity, function and condition can all be improved by re-equipping an existing store, he says.

"Whether that is the most cost-effective approach depends on what you start with and what you want to end up with.

"It is always easier to start with a clean sheet of paper and design a store that works the way you want it to. And the danger of putting new equipment into an existing store is that you end up with a facility that does not work as efficiently as it could."

However, for some, such as Faccombe Estates, near Andover, Hants, logistics mean a re-fit will be the most cost-effective option.

"The complex is more than 20 years old and the drier had come to the end of its useful life," says director and estates general manager David Harbottle.

"We looked at starting afresh and consolidating four stores into one central location. But with a lot of hills and narrow lanes making it difficult to haul grain in and out, we decided to keep outlying storage and upgrade the main unit."

A thorough re-work of the 2200t store by BK Grain has introduced new 40t/hr continuous flow dryer and cleaning facilities, higher capacity handling equipment, and automated controls.

Square bin storage has been retained, to enable grain varieties to be kept separate for selective marketing, but two bins have been converted to store wet grain, increasing intake flexibility.

Cleaning and drying of grain for another 2400t of storage elsewhere on the estate are now provided from the original building.

"We had previously improved the stores to meet ACCS standards," says Mr Harbottle.

"Now we are looking to improve our marketing position with better grain cleaning, improved intake, drying and general handling efficiency. And the store should be cheaper to run by introducing a high level of automation."

New 60t/hr elevators and conveyors ensure rapid movement of crop from the enlarged intake pit to store and automatic on-off controls mean a labour saving.

"The project has also addressed other shortcomings of the old store, including dust control, wet grain management and cleaning standards. &#42

FACCOMBE REFIT

&#8226 New 40t/hr mixed flow dryer.

&#8226 Pit enlarged to 16t.

&#8226 Upgraded to 60t/hr elevators and conveyors.

&#8226 Office for control panel, test equipment and samples.

&#8226 Wet bins introduced.

&#8226 Aspirated pre-cleaner.

&#8226 Increased capacity cleaner.

&#8226 Central dust extraction system – COSH&#42 obligations.

&#8226 Building, bins and floor storage retained.

Existing bins fitted with emptying augers will serve as wet bins at harvest on Faccombe Estates, where manager David Harbottle (top) called in BK Grains Bill Bird to plan the store refit.

The new pre-cleaner (blue structure) should cut drying costs as well as easing the workload of the new oscillating sieve cleaner.