Bulk Solids Storage Structures – Rehabilitation and Modification

July 24, 2013

I am on vacation in México at the moment enjoying family and the nice weather.  Certainly, my vacations do not relate to storage structures but they do make me think about all the emerging economies in the world, such as México, in addition to the well-established ones, like the U.S.  They all have industrial facilities (e.g. chemical, power generation, mining, cement production, plastics) that require rehabilitation and modifications to keep up with the demand due to the global population growth.

The obvious solution to meet the increasing global demand is to build new industrial facilities; however, new construction can be quite costly for plant owners.  Another solution is to rehabilitate and modify such facilities.

Bulk solids storage structures in these industrial facilities are critical components to reliable and safe operation.  Normal and abnormal deterioration, change of use, flow improvement and storage structure end-of-life can occur necessitating either replacement or rehabilitation of those structures to allow continued operation.  New construction may be cost prohibitive for these vital structures if demolition of the existing ones is added to the overall cost of the replacement project.  In a similar way, if a different location is selected for these new structures, the cost for relocating all the attached equipment as well as modification of upstream and downstream equipment needs to be considered as part of the overall cost.  In many cases, rehabilitation of those structures is a more cost-effective solution.

Rehabilitation of existing storage structures is a challenging task that requires not only strong expertise in structural analysis and design of these kinds of structures, but also knowledge of bulk solids flow behavior as well as loading patterns.  Most of the time plant owners are working under pressure to minimize the down time, and the structural rehabilitation and modifications have to be adapted to the constraints of the support structure and equipment.

“Challenge” does not mean “impossible” and this kind of rehabilitation and modification to existing industrial facilities is doable.  These projects require a well-defined path considering all aspects of storage structures to lead to a successful outcome.

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