Honoring Dry Bulk Material Handling Heroes
Modern society wouldn’t be possible without the network of people and equipment helping grow, mine, process, and transport dry bulk commodities around the globe. Unfortunately, these activities pose some serious safety risks to the individuals engaged in this critical work. This unfortunate reality is what drove Pneumat’s founder Gene Nelson to imagine safer solutions to the industry’s most persistent bulk flow problems.
Each year, thousands of workers are injured or killed while handling and transporting materials like grain, cement, ores, aggregates, and other dry bulk solids. One reason that this work can be so dangerous is that the hazards are often invisible or underestimated.
Storage Silos Harbor Hidden Hazards
One of the most notable hazards when working with bulk solids is the risk of engulfment, where an individual becomes buried in loose material. This often occurs in grain storage silos when a worker breaks through bridged product and falls into a void below, or becomes caught in flowing grain and is pulled under like quicksand. Despite growing awareness of this unique threat and increased attention on bin and silo safety procedures, horrific grain entrapment incidents continue to occur, devastating families and impacting farming communities in the American Midwest especially hard.
Of course, engulfment isn’t the only danger for those in the business of handling dry bulk materials. Storage vessels can contain hazardous atmospheres or toxic gasses that can suffocate or poison workers. Piles of material can collapse unexpectedly, striking or submerging individuals with staggering force. The dust that is generated when bulk materials are handled can cause respiratory issues, fuel fires, or detonate in powerful dust explosions. Processing and transporting bulk materials also introduces additional hazards in the form of massive moving machinery like conveyors, augers, crushers, grinders, trucks, railcars, and cargo ships.
Envisioning Silo Safety Solutions
Working with companies to clear buildup and blockages from their bins and silos, Gene experienced these ever-present hazards firsthand. Recognizing the difficult, dangerous nature of this work inspired him to found a company dedicated to establishing stronger silo safety procedures and delivering more effective bulk flow technologies to the world.
It began with the BinWhip®, an invention Gene liked to refer to as a “weed eater on steroids”. Since then, hundreds of BinWhips have been deployed in grain elevators, soybean processors, mine sites, shipping terminals, and other facilities all over the world. In the four decades since its creation, the BinWhip has proven itself to be an extremely reliable cleaning method for bulk materials of all types, eliminating the need for dangerous confined space entry and other hazardous silo cleaning activities. With its ability to blast through the hardest hung-up materials in bins and silos, our latest design, the Dual Impact BinWhip, allows Pneumat to bring safer cleanout solutions to even more industries and locations. Other innovative safety technologies developed by Pneumat over the years include the BinDrill, a portable drilling rig that is typically used in conjunction with the BinWhip to safely create an opening in bridged product, and the Cardox CO2 Blaster, a powerful non-detonating gas expansion system that can replace hazardous explosives. Another safety-driven product line is Pneumat’s RailSpreader, an automated system for loading railcars to 100% capacity while eliminating the need for workers to manually shovel material at heights. When it comes to unloading difficult product like DDGs and meals from truck and railcar hoppers, Pneumat has developed the HopperPopper air blasting system and HopperBot intelligent robotic unloading system that eliminate unsafe banging, pounding, and poking.
Flow Without Limits With An Effective Silo Safety System
At Pneumat, safety has been our guiding star, a vision that drives everything we do. Our mission is to create a safer world, free from bulk flow issues, and for over 40 years our gifted engineers, skilled machinists, and TeamPneumat cleanout crews have worked together to do just that. Our talented team has more experience evaluating, troubleshooting, and eliminating bulk flow issues than anyone. Please reach out if you have any questions about how Pneumat's solutions can help you carry out your important work more efficiently while protecting your team from harm.
We look forward to helping create a safer world with you. 🅿