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Forming a partnership to overcome a cement silo perfect storm

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World Cement,

There is no shortage of challenges when it comes to any cement silo cleanout project. Mole• Master Services Corporation has more than three decades of experience resolving cement silo issues, but a perfect storm of variables required a solid partnership between the Ohio-based silo cleanout and inspection company and a Missouri-based cement producer to complete a huge project safely and effectively.

Evaluating a Herculean task

Mole•Master Services Corporation, based in Marietta, Ohio, US, was contracted to resolve a number of issues at a large cement producer in northeastern Missouri, US. Silo structural problems, many tons of deaerated cement, and off-specification raw material were just a few of the challenges at hand. Compounding the complexities of the job were massive regional flooding, supply chain and transportation interruptions, and the sheer scope of the site itself; the cement production facility was home to a massive bank of 39 silos. Mole•Master evaluates each project by ascribing it one of three levels of difficulty: low, medium, or high. The Missouri project was considered a high degree of difficulty.

The project, one the largest ever completed by Mole•Master, required multiple crews working continuously for nearly a year. Based on the expansive site, the number of silos, and the long-term nature of the project, it became imperative from the start that Mole•Master technicians form a very close working relationship with the engineers and other employees at the sprawling cement production facility. This strategic approach would help ensure that when unexpected issues arose, plant engineers and employees and Mole•Master technicians could confer with one another as needed to achieve remarkable levels of jobsite efficiency despite the enormous complexities facing them.

An unconventional approach to silo cleanout

The cement and clinker in a majority of the silos had deaerated, resulting in severe buildup and blockage. Although Mole•Master is long-accustomed to alleviating material build-up, this project was unique in that the use of off-specification material created a consistency the company had not experienced in the past. A synthetic additive, placed in many of the silos, created a gelatinous-like texture not typical to the cement industry. This material was resistant to the usual methodology used by Mole•Master in more conventional cement silo cleanout projects.

The site is adjacent to the Mississippi River, which was experiencing historic levels of flooding. The high water levels were adversely affecting transportation to and from the facility and interrupting the supply chain. Shipping capabilities were disrupted, meaning much of the material scheduled to leave the facility had to sit for extended periods and was susceptible to moisture. Excessive rain also exacerbated the moisture issues with the materials within the cement and clinker silos, increasing the difficulty levels in material removal.

Mole•Master used virtually every tool in its proprietary arsenal during this extended project, including the Big•Mole System, Arch•Master, and Safe-T-Shot CO² Blasting System. Conventional methods used to break up arched or bridged material were ineffective because of the viscous nature of the material. The Mole•Master experts found that a more nuanced approach, working from the top down at a controlled, variable speed, was most effective and efficient at getting the material moving. Vacuum trucks and a crusher-delumper were also used to facilitate conveyance more efficiently.


The extensive project resulted in a safe return to full capacity. Just as crucial to the project’s success as Mole•Master’s proprietary tools and skilled experts, was the partnership between Mole•Master and the cement production company.

See Mole Master’s silo cleanout expertise in action:

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