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Streamlining dispatch with drive-through storage

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World Cement,

Rebecca Long Pyper, Dome Technology, explains why more and more cement companies are inquiring about drive-through dome storage systems.

For the past six months Dome Technology has responded to an influx of enquiries from ready-mix concrete users eager to bulk up their storage capabilities.

Receiving sufficient product from producers is not always guaranteed in this high-demand market, and ready-mix companies, without serious storage, are not always able to provide customers with exactly what they need. This poses a problem when contractors have been guaranteed material so that they can meet their own deadlines – it is a story that Dome Technology sales manager Lane Roberts hears again and again in conversation with customers.

“The contractors come back to the ready-mix supplier going, ‘You’re causing a delay on this project, and I’m passing that cost on to you,’” Roberts said, adding that one potential client recently disclosed that his company had to pay millions of dollars for such a delay.

More ready-mix teams are eager to find a proactive approach, knowing if they buy more product in the off-season, the price will be lower, and a buffer will be on hand when busy times roll around. But first, they must build a storage facility. This is where the Drive-Thru DomeSilo system was able to step in. The system directly competes with bolted steel tanks and drive-through concrete silos but provides long-term advantages above and beyond these traditional models. This model has piqued the interest of ready-mix companies, who also appreciate that the Drive-Thru DomeSilo can be quickly constructed and is price competitive. With a Drive-Thru, ready-mix companies can now buy 5000 – 8000 t of cement (or more) and store it away for the busy season.

Cost-effective storage

Most companies think they know the capacity they can afford before conversations with a contractor begin, but adding a few thousand extra tons of storage might not cost as much as expected. An economy of scale is inherent in the Drive-Thru DomeSilo; the extra costs associated with increasing the capacity come only from making the dome taller and bolstering the foundation reinforcements, and the price of truck loadout and reclaim will not change.

For instance, one company in the United States that opted for multiple Drive-Thrus started out planning on the 5000 t option, but when they found they could increase the capacity to 8000 t without significant cost increases, they opted for that version instead. Other factors lend themselves to dome longevity, which provides cost savings in the long run. Furthermore, a dome’s monolithic form prevents outside moisture entry – they simply do not have the seams and access points found in silos.

The first company to benefit from the Drive-Thru system was Continental Cement Co. (CCC), which in 2018 built a facility in Memphis, Tennessee, USA. CCC had recently acquired the site with its silo and adjacent scale. Complete upgrades of these assets along with a new barge unloader, dock upgrades, and Drive-Thru allowed CCC to become a service leader in the Memphis market.

The CCC Drive-Thru flanks the pre-existing silo, and though the two appear similar in size, the steel tank stores 3000 t compared to the dome’s 5000 t. The difference in capacity results from the angle of the floor: 60° for the steel tank, compared to 8° for the dome.

With dimensions of approximately 100 ft in height and 50 ft in diameter, the Drive-Thru is supplied by barge from any one of Continental Cement’s plants. New aeration in the existing silo allows for a much-increased truck-loading rate. A bridge between the dome and silo provides access between the two.

The Drive-Thru delivers 100% live reclaim using a fully aerated floor. Product flows through the truck spout into the truck; the same system could be used for a rail loadout system. An inline lump crusher on the loadout stack-up ensures that lumps passed through the receiving system do not make it into trucks. The dome can receive 350 tph from the barge unloader and load out at 320 tph.

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