Multi-day Vacuuming Process Safely Removes Large Volume Of Grain From Food Product Silo


Separating the Wheat

A Wisconsin-based food ingredients supplier had inadvertently loaded white wheat into a malted wheat silo. To avoid product contamination, an even greater volume of wheat would need to be removed. Between the white wheat and the impacted malted wheat, about 10 vertical feet or approximately 200,000 pounds of material needed to be removed from the silo.

Removing the target materials from the 75-foot tall silo required an experienced team and the right equipment. Due to the dangers of engulfment and suffocation (, Great Lakes Power Vac needed to devise a solution to safely extract the materials without having personnel enter the silo.  It also needed to devise a way to safely construct a vacuum header that could reach  the elevated work area, which did not have an easy means of access.

Collaborative Solutions

Great Lakes Power Vac faced several challenges in this vacuum project. The only way to vacuum the materials was through a hole in the floor of the room above the silo. There was not a usable elevator or direct route of stairs to the room. Getting the equipment up the silo’s side and safely rigged, required an experienced crew.

Great Lakes Power Vac coordinated with the client to prep the silo ahead of the vacuuming process. The client removed a ventilation fan and shroud from the floor of the equipment room on top of the silo, which opened a path to the ground for the vacuum header to be run. While this created an opening for the vacuum pipe, it also created a new challenge.  A fire escape ladder ran the entire distance to the ground.  This impediment prevented GLPV’s crew from constructing the vacuum header on the ground and pulling it up as one 75-foot section with a material handling winch.  Instead, the crew had to pull up and connect the ten-foot pipe sections one at a time inside the fire escape ladder housing.  Using fall protection equipment, a GLPV crew member climbed and positioned himself on the fire escape ladder.  As another crew member pulled the pipe up by hand from the room above, the person on the ladder pieced together the header one pipe at a time.  Through this slow, arduous process, the crew was able to safely build a vacuum header from the room above the silo to the ground.

Installing the vacuum pipe piece by piece was the first challenge the crew overcame.  The next was to safely remove the potentially combustible material while working at a distance above it.  This creates a challenge in effectively controlling the vacuum hose.  The crew overcame this obstacle by using a combination of rubber static dissipating hose with a grounded metal stinger pipe on the end.  The hose and pipe together allowed the crew to safely reach the grain from above, while still maintaining a degree of control over the movement of the hose and pipe. 

GLPV’s crew safely and effectively removed the target level of grain from the silo in two fewer shifts than what was anticipated.   

Why Choose Great Lake Power Vac for Vacuum Truck Projects?

Whether the collected media is food grade grains or environmentally sensitive waste, GLPV is the one and only call to make. By leveraging Great Lakes Power Vac’s expertise in various types of industrial collection systems ensures that the project is done safely, cleanly, and efficiently. GLPV’s inventory of state-of-the-art equipment combined with experienced personnel means the project is done right the first time—every time.

For a planned maintenance project or unplanned urgent response, contact one of the experts at Great Lakes Power Vac at (262) 542-5542.


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