DDGs in Transit: Common Issues & Solutions

Anyone involved in the transportation of distiller’s dried grains (DDGs) knows just how challenging this product can be to move around. Its low bulk density makes filling trucks and railcars a constant challenge, while bumpy, humid cross-country trips can transform DDGs into a solid brick by the time they reach their destination. Anyone who has ever banged endlessly on a railcar with a sledgehammer trying to get hung-up DDGs to flow through the gate can attest to the difficulty of DDG loadout. Understanding the common issues that arise with dried distillers’ grains and knowing how to address them can make for more efficient DDG loading and unloading processes and help avoid the damaging impacts of heat, moisture, or mold.

The potential for delays and railcar damage when working with DDGs has even led some railroad carriers to ban the use of their hopper cars for transporting DDGs. Fortunately, standardization of operating procedures and using the proper DDG transportation tools can help minimize these issues in your operations. Facilities can also benefit from consulting with a reliable bulk material flow specialist like Pneumat Systems and implementing specialized railcar loading equipment like the RailSpreader, or truck and railcar unloading equipment like the HopperPopper.

What Are DDGs?

Distillers’ dried grains, or DDGs, is a nutrient-rich co-product created during distillation or dry-milled ethanol biofuel production. They are used as a high-protein feed ingredient and are often corn-based, although DDGs can be composed of rice, wheat, barley, or other grains.

The popularity of DDGs as a feed product for farm animals and livestock is rising, requiring new tools and technologies to minimize the difficulties of transportation of this commodity on railcars and cargo ships. Farmers find DDGs to be an excellent ingredient for producing high-quality animal fodder, and it is routinely used in feed mixtures for:

  • Beef cattle
  • Dairy livestock
  • Swine
  • Poultry
  • Fish / Aquaculture

Logistics specialists must stay vigilant when inspecting DDGs to determine if any mold growth or other damage has occurred during transportation since low-quality feed ingredients can be detrimental to livestock health.

5 Common Challenges When Transporting DDGs

Although DDGs are an excellent source of protein for animals, problems can occur during DDG transportation and storage that significantly impact the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of each shipment. You can minimize the amount of time and money spent sorting out DDG logistics issues by staying aware of common DDG transit problems and implementing practical solutions as they arise.

1. Making Weight

Depending on the precise formulation, DDGs have a bulk density of about 27–35 lb/ft3. Combined with a steep angle-of-repose that can range from 30°–45° or beyond, it’s easy to see why it can be so challenging to fill a railcar. When railcars ship out under-filled, transportation costs skyrocket. To get more DDGs into their railcars, facilities may require workers to top off the cars by manually pushing material around with shovels. This challenging, dirty work exposes workers to safety hazards and results in poor morale and retention issues. By implementing a high-density railcar loading system like the RailSpreader, loadout facilities can save hundreds of dollars per car while reducing dust and improving safety conditions for workers.

2. DDG Variability

There can be many variabilities for different DDG formulations, and the properties of the distillers’ dried grains generated at one ethanol plant can vary significantly from those produced at another. Formulations that contain high fat content are known to set up hard in storage vessels, while those with less fat will often flow more freely. DDG handlers must pay attention to many factors that impact the quality and flowability of the product, including:

  • Ambient temperature
  • Dryer temperature
  • Dryer exit moisture content
  • Grain particle size
  • Storage bin design
  • Bulk density
  • Condensed solubles proportions

3. DDG Stickiness & Caking

Stickiness and caking are two of the most common problems that come with DDG transportation. The dry particles that compose DDGs can stick together during transport if moisture accumulates in the truck or railcar, especially if they are loaded hot. Eventually, as DDGs continue to absorb water vapor from the atmosphere, the individual particles begin to fuse into solid clumps. Severely caked DDGs can require many aggravating hours with a spade and pickaxe to clear.

When DDGs harden inside a bin or silo, buildup, bridging, ratholing, or plugging can occur. In these instances, a visit from a reliable cleanout crew like TeamPneumat may be warranted. Many operators choose to purchase Pneumat’s BinDrill and Dual Impact BinWhip systems so they can rapidly clear hung-up DDGs from their storage vessels and keep their facility running at 100% capacity. Make sure your team is adequately trained in the safe use of these tools.

Generally, the moisture content of DDGs must stay below 11% to prevent product caking that can result in costly, time-consuming railcar unloading issues or spoilage that can result in product loss. However, even heavily-caked DDGs can be unloaded with relative ease at properly-equipped facilities. Truckers have been known to drive miles out of their way to dump their loads at facilities equipped with air blast unloading technology. By driving a probe deep into the packed material and delivering powerful blasts of compressed air, sticky DDGs can be refluidized for rapid unloading without poking, prodding, knocking, and rodding.

Removing caked DDGs takes up time, energy, and resources, increasing transportation costs. Several practical railcar and truck loading and unloading tools from Pneumat Systems can assist in managing caking issues to help DDG shippers increase productivity and lower transit costs considerably.

Unpredictable environments and temperature fluctuations can take their toll on DDGs, but any action that can be taken to keep the product cool and dry will help ensure that loading and unloading go as smoothly as possible. Also, managing the transportation process in a way that limits the amount of time that DDGs are allowed to sit inside a transport hopper or storage vessel can go a long way towards keeping the product flowable.

4. Mycotoxins and Mold

Mycotoxins are naturally occurring toxic compounds found in foods that can cause a range of adverse health effects. Like any other bulk grain product, DDGs are susceptible to mold spore growth and mycotoxins that indicate spoilage or contamination — and DDGs come with a unique set of risk factors.

According to nutritionist Dr. Max Hawkins, mycotoxins can concentrate three times more within DDGs when compared with other grain types. Reducing mycotoxin growth in DDGs comes down to adequate grain storage and fast, controlled shipments.

DDG contamination during transit can pose a costly challenge for your logistics company or feed processing plant. Proper ventilation and temperature control systems are critical for keeping moisture levels low and preventing mycotoxin growth in DDGs.

5. Loading and Unloading Delays

Mistakes, miscommunication, and improper handling can cause delays in the transportation and handling of DDGs. The obstacles to railcar loading and unloading can be addressed using specially-engineered DDG handling equipment, such as the RailSpreader or HopperPopper. Ethanol plants, feed mills, integrators throughout the world have benefitted from consulting with experienced bulk material flow specialists about the available tools. Equipment installations that allow for faster, more efficient DDG loading and unloading can put a lot of money back into a facility’s pocket and typically generate a positive return on investment very quickly.

The Best DDG Loading & Unloading Tools

Flow issues and other DDG transportation problems have long been a source of frustration for railcar loading and unloading professionals. Low loaded railcar weights or time and energy spent battling caked material can add to shipping costs significantly. Companies like shipping and logistics providers, animal feeding operations, pet food processors, feed mills, and anyone involved in getting DDGs from Point A to Point B need to constantly assess these challenges and invest in equipment and planning to overcome these obstacles.

Pneumat Systems is proud to engineer systems that accelerate DDG transit and reduce product spoilage or damage while enhancing worker safety. Contact Pneumat Systems now to learn more about our DDG transport solutions, so you can keep the DDGs flowing as you carry out your essential role in helping feed the world. 🅿

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2021-06-15T10:45:25-05:00June 7th, 2021|BinWhip, HopperPopper, RailSpreader|Comments Off on DDGs in Transit: Common Issues & Solutions

Choosing the Best Whipset for your BinWhip (While Avoiding Hazardous Mistakes)

When it comes to safely cleaning bins and silos, the BinWhip is a highly-effective tool, thanks to a burly hydraulic power unit that maximizes torque and hitting force. But to truly take advantage of the BinWhip’s capabilities, you need to make sure that all of that power is being effectively transferred into the hung-up product.

That’s where the issue of whipset selection becomes a crucial consideration.

Binwhip Whipping

One of the first steps in any silo or bin cleanout project is to select the proper whipset (also referred to as a chain or flail) for the task at hand. This is an important decision that comes with one serious safety consideration – minimizing explosion hazards. Many storage vessels have the potential to contain combustible product, gasses, or suspended dust particles that could ignite or explode if a spark were to be produced during cleanout operations. Even if the atmosphere in a bin is determined to be safe at the beginning of a cleaning job, that can quickly change as product is disturbed and pulverized.

In a recent 4-year period there were 133 dust explosions reported in the United States, resulting in 12 deaths and 156 injuries.

– 2019 Combustible Dust Incident Report, DustEx Research

It only takes one bad decision to spark off a tragic accident. With the abundance of spark-proof anti-static whipsets available, there’s just no excuse for unsafe equipment to ever enter an explosive atmosphere. Fortunately, Pneumat offers a full line of interchangeable whipsets that allow BinWhip operators to safely attack buildup and blockages of all types. They are engineered to extremely high quality standards and ideally suited to different cleaning tasks. Let’s take a look at the 3 most popular whipset options that exist.

Wide Range Of Whipsets Chainsets
Dibw Uhmw Knuckle Whip

Plastic Star Knuckle Whipset

Anti-Sparking + Anti-Static

For a wide range of general-purpose cleaning jobs, the star knuckle whip is a solid choice. The whipset is composed of a super strong, double-braided, marine finished, nylon rope core, encased in a protective rigidizing polyurethane outer layer. To accelerate buildup removal, affixed to the whipset are star-shaped knuckles composed of ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene. The knuckles are attached with non-sparking brass fasteners and are free-floating to encourage even wear and maximize their useful life. DDGs, wheat midds, whole grains, wood chips, gypsum, and limestone are among the many products routinely dislodged with this whipset.

(Pneumat also offers a standard whip without plastic knuckles for specialized sweeping and cleaning applications.)

Dibw Bronze Chain

Brass Chain Whipset

Anti-Sparking + Anti-Static

For extra-hard materials, the brass chain whipset allows for rapid removal without the risk of creating sparks that could ignite suspended dust particles. The straight-link welded brass chain sold by Pneumat is composed of a high-strength copper-zinc alloy with excellent corrosion resistance. The brass chain whipset slams through tough product like hardened agricultural meals and fracturable salts and minerals without posing a fire or explosion hazard.

Dibw Steel Chain

Steel Knuckle Whipset

For Use in Non-Explosive Environments Only

If the materials and dust levels in the bin are determined to present no risk of explosion, BinWhip operators can make use of the steel knuckle whipset. This whipset is composed of high-strength heat-treated carbon steel with a protective yellow chromate finish. The whipset’s mace-like design features steel knuckles with aggressive cutting ridges securely plug welded to the end of the chains. Used to tear through challenging rock-hard material such as hardened cement and rocky mined materials, this whipset offers the highest impact strength and durability available.

Binwhip Changing Whipsets 01
Upper And Lower Binwhip Whipset Receivers

The BinWhip is typically operated with 2 whipsets installed opposite of each other, and in the case of the Dual Impact BinWhip there is both an upper pair and a lower pair. Whipsets of equal weight should always be installed directly opposite of each other to ensure the whiphead remains balanced during operation.

In selecting a whipset, your goal is to choose an option that will remove product as quickly as possible without causing excessive wear on the whipset or presenting a hazard to the product or bin interior. Fortunately, the Dual Impact BinWhip’s hydraulic manifold gives operators fine variable control over the whiphead’s position and rotation speed, making damage to the bin interior highly unlikely. Every cleaning job is different, and experience and experimentation often play a role determining which whip configuration works best for a particular application. Pneumat is always available to offer suggestions based on our many decades of bin cleaning experience. We also offer comprehensive in-person and digital training options to ensure your team has the skills and knowledge necessary to set up and operate the BinWhip safely.

Bin Whip Training Video Sample Ipad

Training Resources

If you are interested in really getting to know the Bin Whip system, including whipset selection and installation procedures, this video series is a great place to start.

With the proper whipsets installed, the BinWhip is a blockage-blasting powerhouse that will keep your bulk material flowing safely and efficiently. And with Pneumat's new bundle pricing on whipsets, you can ensure you always have a healthy supply of replacements on hand so you won't run out in the middle of an important cleaning job.

Reach out if you'd like to know more about our bundle program or have any other questions and we’ll do our best to ensure you have the information and tools you need to get those bins whipped into shape. 🅿

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2021-04-20T11:59:09-05:00April 20th, 2021|Bin and Silo Cleaning, BinWhip|0 Comments

Pneumat to Sponsor Confined Space Entry Webinar

Pneumat Systems is proud to sponsor an important and timely webinar on the topic of confined space entry in the grain industry.

All Confined Spaces are NOT Created Equal

Start Time: 1pm Central

June 10th, 2020

The term “confined space entry” is often used interchangeably with “bin entry” in the grain handling industry. Grain bins certainly can be considered confined spaces, but there are distinct differences between the two, according to OSHA’s Grain Handling Standard. The webinar will be hosted by two speakers from the National Grain & Feed Association. Together, Jess McCluer – Vice President, Safety & Regulatory Affairs and Jim Seibert – Director of Safety, Education and Training will dispel common misconceptions about confined space entry by comparing OSHA’s definition side by side with grain bin entry standards.

This is an important safety issue that is at the heart of Pneumat's mission to create a safer world, free from bulk flow problems. With products like our Dual-Impact BinWhip and BinDrill that can be used to effectively clean silos from the outside, Pneumat strives to protect workers by eliminating confined space entry altogether.

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2021-04-20T09:39:55-05:00June 9th, 2020|Bin and Silo Cleaning, BinWhip, Cardox, HopperPopper, Press Release, RailSpreader|Comments Off on Pneumat to Sponsor Confined Space Entry Webinar

Pneumat Virtual Round Table Discussion

Some of our team members recently gathered online to discuss the world of silo cleaning and bulk material handling, and Pneumat's unique position in the industry.

Learn more about the creative people and product lines Pneumat uses to keep bulk materials flowing and profits growing.

Be a bulk flow pro.

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2021-03-26T11:19:19-05:00May 14th, 2020|Bin and Silo Cleaning, BinWhip, Cardox, HopperPopper, Press Release, RailSpreader|Comments Off on Pneumat Virtual Round Table Discussion

Pneumat Systems Offers Safe Effective Bin & Silo Cleanout With Binwhip

BinWhip Pneumat PR 2015MANKATO, Minn. – The Pneumat Systems BinWhip is a safe and effective bin and silo cleaning solution.  The unique design of the BinWhip allows for the equipment to be operated from the top of the bin or silo, eliminating the hazards of confined space entry.  Bin Whip is hydraulically powered and does not require air. Only food grade hydraulic oil is used. Unlike other compressed air systems that lack power and create dust problems, BinWhip is extremely powerful, lightweight, portable, and safe.  In addition, because BinWhip is hydraulically powered, the whip rotation is reversible, something that is not possible with an air powered whip unit.

The BinWhip helps to reclaim valuable inventory safely and can get more product moving. BinWhip is effective on vessels of all sizes and restores storage to 100% capacity.

2021-03-26T11:19:19-05:00February 27th, 2015|BinWhip, Press Release|3 Comments

Pneumat Systems Launches New Website For Bulk Material Flow Products & Systems

Website Featured Post ImageMANKATO, Minn. – Pneumat Systems recently launched a new comprehensive website for its line of bulk material handling systems.  The easy-to-navigate site offers helpful information and technical specifications for its bulk flow solution product line including BinWhip, HopperPopper and RailSpreader.

The website is designed to help visitors find the right Pneumat product for their particular situation. The interactive menu system allows users to find product solutions by navigating through applications and industries, as well as by specific product.  Users can view job site photos and videos of the equipment in action, as well as download manuals and product literature.

2021-03-26T11:19:21-05:00November 1st, 2014|BinWhip, Cardox, HopperPopper, Press Release, RailSpreader|Comments Off on Pneumat Systems Launches New Website For Bulk Material Flow Products & Systems

BinWhip Series 9250 by Pneumat Systems Inc. Ranks #2 On Feed & Grain’s “Top 10 Products and Services”

Worker Safely cleaning SiloThe BinWhip has been recognized and proven for years to be one of the most effective tools for unclogging bins, silos and hoppers in the feed and grain industries since 1987.

Made entirely from American parts and labor, Pneumat System’s Inc. developed the all-hydraulic powered, portable BinWhip to give our customers the power and performance they demand.

The BinWhip is a unique tool, developed to clean clogged storage vessels without the danger of entering the vessel itself. It attaches easily to an opening at the top of a bin or silo, which eliminates the need for dangerous, confined space entry by employees.

The BinWhip is valuable because it eliminates hassle and reduces costs. It takes care of flow problems quickly, minimizes down time, and keeps employees safe and on task. Results are measurable. Our clients have found their return on investment is paid back in as little as 1 bin cleanout.

How the BinWhip is Used & Why it’s the Undisputed Industry Leader

  • The BinWhip is mounted at the top of a problem bin
  • The whiphead is lowered into the blockage and turned on.
  • The whip is moved from one blockage point to another, strategically removing problems and achieving full flow.
  • The system sets up and moves quickly & easily from one bin to another, or from one plant to another–being used many times over.
  • It works on vessels of all sizes, from a small 4’ x 4’ ingredients bin to a 30’ x 150’ coal silo.
  • Restores storage vessels to 100% capacity. If the material is currently usable, it can be reclaimed.
  • Has more torque and control compared to air-powered whips.
  • Doesn’t require an extra air source to operate.
  • Speed and direction of cleaning head rotation is adjustable and reversible.
  • Long-standing history of safe operations in numerous industries.

Pneumat Systems is proud to be included in the Top 10 Products and Services by Grain and Feed,” says Greg Nelson, President of Pneumat Systems. “Everyone in our company works hard to provide effective, innovative products to the grain and feed industry. The BinWhip has been one of our flagship products for over 30 years.”

The BinWhip is the obvious choice for tough industrial bin & silo cleanout situations!

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