Bulk Handling Awards 2022

Aug 26, 2022

KE awarded Excellence in the Application of Gears, Motors and Drives as part of the Bulk Handling Awards 2022

South Australian Engineering company Kilic Engineering and Global Food and Agri giant Cargill have collectively used their grain handling and operations experience to enhance a decades old design to drastically improve bunker receival operations for Cargill’s Australian handling facilities.

Cargill Australia is part of the global Cargill organisation which publicly states that it is committed to creating connections across the global food system to help the world thrive. It links farmers to markets, customers with sustainable nutrition solutions, and nourishes the world. Founded in 1865, the privately held company employs 155,000 people in 70 countries. Cargill Australia acquired the GrainFlow network of storage and Handling facilities from AWB Limited in 2011 and has since worked hard to improve their handling operations to add value to their farmer and trading customers through enhanced service levels at their storage and handling sites.

Kilic Engineering (KE) is a diverse mechanical engineering company based in Adelaide, South Australia, owned and operated by the Kilic family since 1973. It has a long and proud history of excellence in designing, manufacturing and installing a wide range of conveyors, material handling systems, structures and associated equipment. Some 20 years ago, KE’s founder, Tony Kilic and his son, Managing Director Jason Kilic developed their own unique design of Bunker intake and handling equipment for the grain industry, and with constant enhancements and refinements over the years, the trademarked BunkerStacker range has now become the premier brand used across the Australian agricultural bulk handling landscape. Not only does the equipment receive grain from farmers’ trucks at rates of up to 750 tonnes per hour (tph), its portability, large dump hopper and one-man operation provide significant productivity benefits for its bulk handler owner/operators.

KE’s association with Cargill and their GrainFlow operations commenced with KE’s installation of a conveyor loading system (CLS) at the GrainFlow West Wyalong site back in 2012. The improvements to receival operations at this site and the farmer benefits which flowed from their increased productivity through faster turnaround times matched Cargill’s vision of linking farmers to markets and helping people thrive wherever they were involved.

Cargill then followed up this project with the purchase of a variety of KE products including BunkerStackers to be delivered in 2022.

KE’s BunkerStacker range includes its smaller hopper unit, badged as “the Joey”, which receives grains and oilseeds up to a rate of 600 tph (wheat tonnes), the large hopper unit, nicknamed “The Roo”, which also receives grains up to 600 tph, and the “Super Roo” with large hopper feeding a 750 tph stacker unit, making it the fastest portable grain receival unit in the country.

The design mentioned and established around 20 years ago has constantly evolved with innovations across all aspects of the grain receival function of discharging farmer and carrier road trucks into bunker stockpiles. Features such as reduced spillage, a shorter footprint within the bunker roadways, automated hopper valves, generators fitted on board the unit and hydraulic drives allowing the machine to be self-propelled, hydraulic jacks and automated take-up systems make the BunkerStacker range fast, versatile, safe and an easy-to-use work centre. Equipment that is the first choice of operators and truck drivers that are serious about handling large volumes of agricultural product.

Cargill’s constant drive for continuous improvement matched one of KE’s key objectives of finding innovative solutions for its customers in its handling equipment and this collective purpose led to Cargill approaching KE to determine if a further enhancement could be made to legacy stacking equipment it owned.

As background, the Stacker is a standard method of conveying product from a truck receival system to a grain stockpile contained within the walls of the bunker storage. In its simplest form, a stacker is an inclined boom mounted belt conveyor with a hopper at the receival end and a chute at the discharge end with the chute typically able to be manoeuvred in and out longitudinally in line with the stacker boom. It is a very neat solution that loads the grain onto the pile at a rate of 400 to 600 tonnes per hour and provides the operator with the ability to direct the grain to the front and rear bunker walls so that the bunker can be filled to near capacity.

Cargill were satisfied with the truck unloading discharge rates which the on-site equipment was achieving however their team was looking for a capital light enhancement which would improve utilisation of their bunker storage by getting a more even spread of product as it was landing onto the stockpile. The intention was to maximise the volume of grain within the bunker stockpile and at the same time reduce the number of movements of the stacking machine along the bunker pad.

The solution for the KE team involved changing its original design of the proprietary multi-directional discharge chute that had been a standard part of KE equipment for many years. This standard involves a chute that uses hydraulic or electric actuators and a swivel and hinge system to mechanically manipulate the chute so that grain can be directed to all areas of the grain stack. The chute is large enough to allow the grain to flow at the maximum rate through the full extent of chute movements and with the chute movements ensuring the utilisation of bunker capacity is maximised. The KE standard solution had to be enhanced to deliver a broader discharge range, lightened up so that it could be swapped for the small existing single direction chutes on the Cargill equipment and electrically actuated in an intrinsically safe way to deliver a plug and play change over.

The engineering featured:

  • a lightweight design that ensured Cargill’s existing equipment would work as-is, rather than requiring any additional counterweighting.
  • electric actuators with explosion proof rating supplied by Linak to turn the chute through movements in each of four directions.
  • a new “long-throw” design which extends the range of product cover.
  • The creation of a “plug and play” solution, which allowed each new chute to be manufactured, mechanically and electrically tested in KE’s workshop, with KE’s principal electrical contractor, Tristar Electrical, installing and commissioning each of the new actuators to the chutes in situ.

Ultimately, the new design initiated by Cargill was an outstanding success for all parties. Cargill achieved their objective of optimising their bunker storage utilisation which they were able to quantify across their sites, with increases ranging from 3% to 15%. KE has subsequently been able to use this new design to enhance its KE BunkerStacker range of equipment, thus providing the opportunity to improve all its customers’ bunker operations across Australia.

To add to these achievements, KE was recently recognised for the collaboration effort in developing this new design by winning the Mercury Award for Excellence in the Application of Gears, Motors and Drives as part of the awards ceremony held during the Bulk 2022 Conference and expo in Melbourne in August 2022.

KE and Cargill Australia’s operations team continue to work together to identify further enhancements, primarily focused on automation, to improve productivity within the GrainFlow bunker handling operations to the benefit of their customers.

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