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Storage & Transportation

Selecting suitable equipment for reliable bulk solids storage, handling, and transportation. Problems with the storage of bulk solids in bins and silos can be avoided if they are designed with respect to the flow properties of the dry bulk material which has to be stored or loaded/unloaded. The loading and unloading method used depends on both the bulk cargo and the equipment available on the ship and on the dock.

Bulk solids transportation and bulk solids storage innovations - bulkinside

Bulk cargo is anything that is transported in large quantities without packaging or packing, where the means of transport itself acts as a container. Volume or mass measurements are used to quantify cargo in these cases.

The type of bulk material determines the means of transport. Construction debris, gravel, or sand can be transported in dump trucks or high-sided trucks. Weather-sensitive goods, such as salt or sugar, require a silo vehicle for transport. Vehicles with push floors are also used or the bulk goods are transported as bagged goods or in big bags. In sea freight, bulk goods are transported in bulk holds or bunkers on the ship.

The most common means for the transportation used to transport bulk solids are the following:

  • Trucks
  • Ships
  • Silo vehicles

Bulk solids are stored in tanks (either above or underground), containers, silos, hoppers, and more, depending on quantity. The storage facilities must be designed such that they neither impair product quality nor cause disturbances to the removal of the bulk solids.

Bulk material storage is either used for buffering between different handling/processing steps or as an equalizer in batch-wise working processes.


A silo, also known as a bin or bunker, generally consists of a vertical cylinder and a sloping. The first step in the process of silo selection is to decide on the type that is required. There are three types of bins:

  • Expanded flow
  • Funnel flow
  • Mass flow

Characteristics to select the best storage equipment

  • Maintain reliable feeder flow
  • Focus on discharge rather than storage
  • Avoid using assumed bulk material flow properties
  • Consider a standard design
  • Consider combustible dust hazards

For transportation, ships are highly favored for their ability to transport bulk solid goods be it cement, grain, coal, or crude oil at a relatively cheaper cost than the alternatives. It is important to note that the loading and unloading of ships depending on the cargo being transported and the equipment available on the ship and dock.

When moving any freight, there are 4 components of cost, namely: downtime, load time, travel time, and unload time. Downtime and travel time are under the control of the ocean freight company, whereas they are at the mercy of the port facilities for load and unload times.

All ship loaders and ship unloaders serve the same basic purpose: to load or unload bulk materials as efficiently as possible.

To make a well-founded decision on which loader or unloader is the best solution for your terminal, basic issues have to be considered and evaluated, such as total costs, energy consumption, availability, safety, etc.

The following services are required:

  • low operating costs,
  • environmental compatibility in terms of dust and noise,
  • minimum weight and dimensions,
  • ease to operate and good mobility,
  • flexibility in the loading or unloading of different types of bulk materials,
  • reduced times for cleaning the system between operations on different types of materials,
  • possibility of carrying out operations even in bad weather (with the hold partially covered),
  • complete loading of unloading of the hold with the minimum amount of human involvement inside the hold.

Ship unloading bulk materials bulkinside

Bulk trucks are a flexible, efficient way to distribute huge volumes of bulk solids.

Although many facilities that require large-scale materials deliveries rely on them being transported by rail, the majority turn to secure their supply via road-based truck deliveries.

Truck loading and discharging these bulk solids is a major logistic issue and has to be managed.

Truck loading and truck unloading systems give a strong capability to move around these materials efficiently, safely, and economically due to their excellent design and robust construction.

Mobile Bulk Truck Loading Systems
Mobile Bulk Truck Loading System – Polimak
Mobile Bulk Truck Loading System – Polimak

Discharge aid devices are devices that stimulate or improve bulk solids flow out of bulk storage containers. Items may be installed downstream of discharge aids to provide a means to shut off or regulate the flow of bulk solids. Some examples of discharge controllers are the slide gate valves and feeders. A discharge system can either be integrated with the silo or installed as an add-on. The primary purpose of a discharger aid is to promote flow, not necessarily to regulate it, and without regard to the order of zone discharge.

A distinction is made between three different kinds of discharge aids, each of which requires a supply of energy:

  • Pneumatic discharge aids: function using fluidization, gasification, air blasts, air cushions
  • Mechanical discharge aids: function using vibration, discharge agitation, sliding frame
  • Vibratory discharge aids: These are used to address flow problems like arching, ratholing, or incomplete material withdrawal
  • Manual discharge aids: tapping, poking, and more

Being an integral part of the bulk solid handling process, loading bellows provide dust-free and safe out loading of powdered and granular materials to trucks, ships, and stockpiles. They are generally mounted underneath silos, hoppers, or installed at the end of conveyors like screw feeders, elevators,or pneumatic conveying systems.

The main idea behind the loading bellow system is discharging the powdered or granular bulk solid through a vertical column by its own weight. It collects the dust within the enclosed column upwards. The varying height between the upper discharge point and lower loading point is compensated by making the column flexible.

Loading bellows bulk materials

Depending on the process requirements of the product, loading bellows are available with an extensive range of bellow configurations. The range looks as follows, each with its own characteristics and use cases:

  • Single Outer Bellow
  • Double Bellows
  • Single Outer Bellow With Internal Wear Cones
  • Double Bellows With Internal Wear Cones
  • Single Loading Chute
  • Single Outer Bellow With Internal Loading Chute
  • Loading Chute With Double Dust Collection Bellows

Silos are large structures that are used to separate and store different types of bulk materials, such as grain, coal, cement, carbon, and more different bulk goods. It generally consists of a vertical cylinder and a sloping. Three types of silos are in widespread use today: tower silos, bunker silos, and bag silos.

Tower silos are cylindrical structures, typically 30 to 275 ft (10 to 90 m) in height. They can be made of many materials, such as wood staves, concrete staves, cast concrete, and steel panels. An advantage of tower silos is that the silage tends to pack well due to its own weight, except in the top few feet.

Bunker silos are trenches, commonly with concrete walls, that are filled and packed with tractors and loaders. The filled trench is covered with a plastic tarp to make it airtight. These silos are usually unloaded with a tractor and loader.

Bag silos are heavy plastic tubes, usually around 8 to 12 ft (2.4 to 3.6 m) in diameter, and of variable length as required for the amount of material to be stored. They are packed using a machine made for the purpose and sealed on both ends.

A hopper is a large, pyramidal, or cone-shaped container that holds matter or flow-able material such as dust, gravel, nuts, seeds, and more. Hoppers are used for the temporary storage of said materials. They are designed so that stored material can be dumped or fed to a process easily.

Different types of hoppers

  • Stretch hoppers: Like self-dumping hoppers, stretch hoppers are designed to be moved and dumped easily with a forklift. The main difference being their design
  • Self-dumping hoppers: Self-dumping hoppers are designed to dump materials out the side without needing an external motor or pulley
  • Drop bottom hoppers: Drop bottom hoppers are designed to minimize the hopper’s footprint while maximizing the storage space

Key hopper features

  • Center discharge
  • Strength and durability
  • Multiple sizes
  • Smooth interior

This section offers an insight into the latest innovations in bulk solids storage systems and dry bulk materials loading and unloading technologies.

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Articles about Storage & Transportation

Experts for Storage & Transportation

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Matthew Bailey – Technical Lead

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Nathan Grube is Regional Vice President of Sales for BinMaster covering the central United States including a ten-state area stretching from North Dakota to Texas. He joined BinMaster in 2001, already equipped with five years of experience in agricultural equipment. Grube has worked with end users, distributors, and OEMs across the US. His vast expertise covers many industries including agriculture, aggregates, cement, plastics, and mining, among others.
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Jeff Lucke graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh with a degree in International Business. Jeff subsequently obtained a post college degree from Anoka Technical College in Import/Export. Jeff joined Solimar Pneumatics as their sole sales person in 1991. Along with a staff of engineers that have 20+ years of experience in powder handling, Jeff and Solimar Pneumatics are now widely known as leading experts in the industry. Through the years the company expanded their international presence through trade shows, travel, and advertising. Solimar now sells to over 75 countries worldwide. In 2019 Jeff and two partners became the owners of Solimar Pneumatics.
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Karen Van Aelst, ing., is a seasoned professional with a rich background in sales and engineering, particularly within the dry bulk handling and process industry. Over the course of 12 years, she honed her expertise in selling installations tailored for these sectors. In 2010, Karen transitioned to StuvEx, where she embarked on a decade-long journey as a sales engineer specializing in explosion protection. Her role encompassed managing sales activities in both BeLux and Germany, showcasing her proficiency in navigating diverse markets and establishing strong client relationships. Since 2019, Karen has assumed the position of Product Manager at StuvEx, where she is entrusted with the vital responsibilities of overseeing the development and market realization of explosion protection products. Her extensive experience in sales, coupled with her engineering background, positions her as a valuable asset in driving innovation and ensuring the safety of industrial environments. Karen’s dedication and expertise continue to play a pivotal role in the success of StuvEx in the field of explosion protection.
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Süleyman is General Manager of Polimak with more than 20 years of experience in design, engineering, manufacturing, and marketing of bulk solids handling systems. He leads the organization to provide problem-free solutions from single equipment to complete turnkey systems for a wide range of industries. Pneumatic conveying systems, dust collectors, rotary valves, big bag dischargers, batching & dosing systems, storage silos are some of the components designed and produced by a highly qualified engineering team in the organization. Holding a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering, Süleyman’s background includes software development, industrial automation, and IoT technologies. This facilitates Polimak’s vision of providing data-driven smart process technologies for the bulk solids handling industry in the new digital age.
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Travis has over 20 years of experience in the dry bulk solids industry and is the President at Vortex, an engineering and manufacturing company that specialises in process valves and loading solutions specifically for solids handling. Travis has worked on solution-driven installations across six continents and has a strong knowledge of market-specific regulations and requirements within the industry.
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Aristidis Melios is the General Manager at Vraykos & Associates Mechanical Ltd. He holds a Diploma in Mechanical Engineering from National Technical University of Athens, and has more than 30 years of experience in design, engineering and manufacturing of bulk materials handling systems in food industry in Greece and Balkans area. Mr Melios is an expert in managing industrial projects that concern mechanical or pneumatic conveying, weighing & dosing, mixing, dedusting, screening and storaging of food bulk products. He has the experience needed to create a cost efficient turn-key solution for every bulk materials industry. The last years leads the Vraykos company engineering team with success, inserting new ideas and technologies in the field of bulk materials handling systems.
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Carrie Hartford is the Technical Sales Manager and Senior Project Engineer in Jenike & Johanson’s office in California. For 15 years, she has been solving challenging bulk material flow related problems around the world. Typical projects include the analysis and design of bins, hoppers, feeders, and transfer chutes. From 2012 – 2014, she opened and established an engineering office and laboratory facilities in Perth, Western Australia. Internationally she publishes and presents technical papers, participates in conferences, and presents numerous short courses in the field of bulk solids flow. Carrie has a Mechanical Engineering degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara and an MBA from Azusa Pacific University in California. She is a licensed Professional Mechanical Engineer in the State of California.
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Tim Porco is the the President of Erie Technical Systems Inc. He oversees the company’s day-to-day operations, ensuring top-notch solutions for customer needs. He holds a Chemical Engineering degree from Case Western Reserve University and is an active member of the Flexible Intermediate Bulk Filling Association (FIBCA). With an extensive background in technical sales, product management, and sales management within the powder solids handling industry, Tim applies his diverse skills to develop economical solutions for clients. Tim is committed to listening carefully to customer requirements and translating them into effective applications of Erie Technical Systems equipment.
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