Dennis Augustine uses a Walinga Central Vac system for routine housekeeping at the Northside Elevator feed mill and grain elevator at Loyal, WI. Photo courtesy Northside Elevator.
The crew at Northside Elevator, a family-owned grain elevator and feed mill in Loyal, WI (715-255-8507), had always been sticklers for housekeeping. The company operates a 4-million-bushel elevator and 500-tpd feed mill operation, primarily dairy, at an in-town location and is in the process of building a new feed mill.
The mill’s housekeeping requirements, however, have been becoming much tighter in recent years.
“We had been getting by with brooms, shovels, and occasionally a shop vac,” says Operations Manager Adam Cashmer. “We had been spending four or five hours a day on housekeeping, but now we really wanted things to be spotless.”
Cashmer contacted some suppliers in nearby Marshfield, WI, but none of them had systems geared to grain handling. Next, he called Schultz’s Inter-State Ag, Inc., a longtime millwright partner in Monroe, WI (608-325-2676).
“Chad Droessler contacted Schultz’s supplier Walinga USA Inc., because they had a product that would be good for us,” says Cashmer.
Wayland, MI-based Walinga and Schultz’s Inter-State Ag supplied a Central Vac cleanup system, and Schultz’s installed it over a one-week period. “All we had to do was pour a concrete slab just outside the building to hold the vacuum pump,” Cashmer says.
That 25-hp vacuum pump drives air directly from a Walinga Super Hardened SRT Model 614 blower. A cyclone filter separator ahead of the blower removes dust from the air, resulting in cleaner air and longer-lasting blower components.
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A series of pneumatic ducts carry air and vacuumed debris to the cyclones from 21 inlets located throughout key areas of the feed mill and elevator.
The system came with two 2-inch-diameter, 25-foot-long vacuum hoses, which can be attached end to end, as needed, for a total of 50 feet in length. These attach to the pneumatic ducting. (Three-inch hoses are available for cleaning up bigger spills.)
A variety of attachments are available to connect to the end of the vacuum hoses similar to the sorts of attachments you find with a household vacuum cleaner. These are designed to reach a variety of locations inside the plant.
“For example, there is a brush attachment designed for cleaning walls,” Cashmer explains. “There’s another narrow attachment specifically designed for cleaning dust and debris out of cracks. We’ve been cleaning areas that have never been cleaned before. And everything operates by pushbutton.”
The Central Vac system pneumatically delivers vacuumed dust or other waste to a trash receptacle outside. “There are sensors to tell us when it’s full, and then all we do is use a forklift to move and dump it,” he notes.
Among the benefits Cashmer cites:
• Cleanup jobs that once took several workers an hour to perform now take one person about 15 minutes, he estimates. The time and labor savings is especially important in key areas of the facility subject to OSHA’s 1/8-inch maximum dust accumulation rule.
• Housekeeping is the No. 1 practice in preventing dust explosions. In addition, cleaning up grain spills prevents infestations from insects, birds, and vermin. The new system actually picks up dust rather than just making more.
Ed Zdrojewski, editor