Brainard, Nebraska (August 2010) – EAD Control Systems, Inc., in partnership with RC Hydraulic Systems, Lowe Construction, Inc. and Brock have erected the world’s largest free standing grain bin. Using innovative technology and building practices this bin has a 156 foot diameter, holds 1.3 million bushels and stands without a center structured support.
EAD Control Systems and RC Hydraulic Systems utilized three years of research, design and continual testing of hydraulic jacks to devise this system. The objective of this research was to produce a self-contained system, decreasing the cords and cables used during the lifting process. The purpose is to speed up construction while ensuring the safety of the crew and grain bin.
“As the design was continuously improving, so were the paybacks of the jacks. By constantly monitoring the height and ensuring even weight distribution, the jack’s stability would prove to be rock solid,” said Jesse Richardson, Panel Shop Manager for EAD Control Systems.
Combining the innovations in controls and hydraulics into a system of jacks that could communicate wirelessly, the building of grain bins has taken a giant step forward.
EAD Controls and RC Hydraulic Systems Industries designed the system of hydraulic jacks, which are manufactured locally. All of the control panels, wireless and hardwired, function off of a main operator panel system that monitors every jack’s status. This includes weight load and height to ensure proper functionality. The weight on each jack is evenly distributed while the height stays within the targeted parameters.
The common 90 foot diameter grain bin typically requires 50 jacks during construction; the self-contained system of hydraulic jacks require less than 20, saving on space and materials. For the 156 foot diameter bin, 30 hydraulic jacks were used and were able to support over 905,000 pounds. During testing a single jack held 48,000 pounds.
The building process begins with a concrete foundation that has 276 concrete columns with a depth 70 feet to ensure proper stability. Lowe Construction, with materials provided by Brock, constructed the 300,000 pound roof which is built on the foundation. Jacks are then set in place on the interior of the roof as close to the wall as possible and bolted to the concrete floor of the bin.
Once everything is in place, the jacks are bolted to the first ring of the grain bin, which is attached to the roof. A computer automatically sets the jack heights then raises the entire bin to an exact predetermined height. Lowe Construction then bolts another ring to the first ring. Once the second ring is completed, the jacks are unbolted from the first ring, lowered automatically by the computer, then bolted to the second ring, ready to lift the bin again. The process is then repeated until the structure reaches the desired height.
It takes only four to five minutes for the hydraulic jack system to go full stroke or complete a full lift. Grain bins are susceptible to strong winds during construction; the fast stroke time is beneficial by reducing the risk of the bin tipping over, therefore, making it safer for the workers.
This lift system has been a collaboration of all the companies represented. Lowe Construction is the only company erecting grain bins of this magnitude and Brock is the only company manufacturing free standing bins. EAD Control Systems and RC Hydraulic Systems are the only companies manufacturing this jack system.