In most cases, routine maintenance at your asphalt plant comes at a cost. Planning for these tasks means downtime at the plant and a decrease in productivity. And since that downtime equals money lost, producers are always looking for the fastest way to complete these tasks, often disregarding the safety of their workers.
This is especially true for workers who are tasked with checking the wear inside their silos. Many asphalt producers are erecting scaffolding inside asphalt storage silos, or worse, placing workers on the gravel inside the silo, as a means to measure the wear inside their facilities.
The late Dr. J. Don Brock knew there had to be a better way to check silos and keep people safe. At his request, Astec engineers began the research and development of alternative ways to inspect silos. Several ideas were tested and one became reality—the SiloBotsm inspection device.
Out with the Old
While asphalt producers know the importance of keeping their silos maintained, many don't know just how worn these silos can get. Abrasive materials are loaded into these storage silos every day and over time these materials cause wear to the walls. Weakened silo walls can lead to the leaking out of material, or worse, the collapse of these massive structures. Not only do collapsed silos cause safety concerns, you're also wasting mix and losing money. This is why regular inspections, at least every two years, are recommend for your storage silos.
However, when it comes to entering the confined space of an asphalt storage silo, there is no such thing as routine maintenance. Although precautions are taken, there are serious risks involved. For an asphalt producer, the tedious process of erecting scaffolding inside an asphalt storage silo to manually inspect it for damage can interrupt production for up to three days.
Some producers are putting their workers at even greater risk by lowering them into the silo on top of gravel and as inspections are complete, the gravel is emptied out so the worker can tether further down the bin and inspect more of the silo. Not only are both of these inspection types dangerous to complete, but also inefficient. Many customers will just shine a flashlight into their silos to look for problems. This method is highly ineffective as shadows, mix build-up and other factors can interfere with what you are able to see from outside of the silo.
The SiloBotsm inspection service helps asphalt producers save both time and money, while keeping workers safe. The remote-controlled device measures the thickness of silos using ultrasonic waves and prevents the need for any human being to enter the dangerous confined space. This new technology helps plant owners inspect their silos in a matter of hours, not days, saving thousands of dollars and keeping crews away from harm.
Not only that but the SiloBotsm can inspect silos while the customer is running asphalt as long as there is a second set of scales and the crossover traverse is locked out, isolating the scale our technician is operating on.This not only saves producers time and money on downtime, but they are also able to capitalize on opportunity costs since they can be back up and running within hours instead of days.
Data Improves Accuracy
Not only is the process of using a SiloBotsm inspection service safer and faster, with inspections taking as little as 60-90 minutes, but it’s also much more accurate than a visual inspection. The proprietary, patent-pending system uses magnetic wheels that each have more than 100 lbs of holding force, allowing it to move without interference, even on ceramic tiles. The SiloBotsm device moves around the inside of the silo using a digital wireless technology to send control and telemetry signals to and from the ground station. These signals are processed by state-of-the-art controllers inside the SiloBotsm device to drive the wheels and sensor suite.
The remote-control operator can wear a set of first-person view goggles for a virtual display and feel like he is in the driver’s seat of the SiloBotsm device. There is a goggle-mounted head tracker that tracks the position of your head and relays that information to the pan and tilt system on the driving camera, thus making the SiloBotsm cockpit view truly immersive.
With a manual inspection, workers are looking at seams and analyzing quadrants of the silo, taking away an average of 16 to 32 measurements per silo. The SiloBotsm on the other hand, collects between 15 to 25 data points per weld seam creating approximately 100 different data points. Customer will be verbally informed about the measurements and wear spots found in their silos on the day of inspection and the information is sent back to the office via FedEx to be analyzed where a comprehensive report detailing the silo’s health is also created for the customer.
These written reports contain an analysis of the health of each seam on the silo and also details the recommended repairs.
Schedule an Inspection
Over the last two years since the SiloBotsm inspection service has been offered, Astec, Inc. technicians have completed over 390 silo inspections across the country and prevented countless catastrophic failures. Each inspection service is scheduled directly through Astec which creates a service agreement and schedule a time for a technician to come to your facility and complete the inspection.
Even customers who own silos of other brands can benefit from this service and expect to pay about half the price of what they would to erect scaffolding to complete the same job.
For more information, call (800) 251-6042