Safe Silo Cleaning

The Whip Keeps Material Flowing

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No Need to send a Man Inside

Powered by compressed air, the Whip’s patented gyro motor can use a variety of flails and cutting edges to knock down accumulated material without damaging storage vessels. Abrasion-resistant steel chain is best suited for most applications, with non-sparking brass chain for combustible materials. Urethane flails can also be employed to protect lined vessels that could be susceptible to damage from metal tools.

“With this technology, there’s no need to send a man inside and risk injury,” observed Martin Engineering Territory Manager Jim Densberger. “The equipment can be set up quickly outside the vessel, and it’s portable enough to move easily around various bin sizes and shapes.” In most cases, the technique allows material to be recaptured and returned to the material stream.


With safety harnesses in place, Martin Engineering technicians secured the equipment through an access hatch at the top of the dome. Though all of the company’s silo cleaning crews are OSHA and MSHA certified for confined space entry, they instead used remote control from outside the vessel to safely guide the head. The 2-man crew lowered the whip through an opening created in the blockage, then worked their way downward from above, dislodging material as they went. By undercutting the wall accumulation, it eventually began falling in sections from its own weight. The modular boom of the Martin Heavy Duty Whip extends up to 28 ft (8.5 m) and can clean vessels up to 60 ft (18 m) in diameter from a central opening of just 18 in (450 mm).

With the reclaim conveyor repaired and the process back up and running, Jensen was asked to summarise the experience. “The crew’s performance was excellent,” he concluded. “Martin Engineering was very responsive, and provided an innovative solution to the problem. We had good communication throughout, and all work was done in a safe manner.”

About Eagle Materials

Eagle Materials has been manufacturing cement in the US for more than 40 years, with plants strategically located in Illinois, Nevada, Texas and Wyoming. In 2007, the Illinois Cement facility completed a significant upgrade and expansion, facilitating a dramatic improvement in manufacturing capacity, energy consumption and per-unit production costs. Capacity increased to 1.1 million short tons, while the cost structure was reduced by 20 %.

* Elizabeth Allen, Senior Global Marketing Analyst, Martin Engineering, USA.