The Art of Custom Bulk Storage Tanks & Silos

They stand like sentries along highways and back roads, in rail yards and shipyards, by factories and farmhouses, from coast to coast, from north to south, all across the country. For decades, they have been the silent partners and unsung heroes of industry and agricultural. They are so common that they are almost invisible. They are unmoving, but without them, much of commerce would grind to a halt.

They are steel fabricated bulk storage tanks and storage silos, holding everything from oil to grain, from coal to concrete, from steel pellets to biomass ash, from gravel to clay, and too much more to list.

To a passerby on a busy highway, they might seem simple things — just giant cylinders standing on the landscape, singly or in clusters — but those simple silhouettes are awfully deceptive. A world of planning, design, engineering and manufacturing goes into making every one of them.

Custom Storage Solutions for Bulk Materials

Every industrial application for a metal bulk storage tank or silo, whether for liquid or dry contents, has its own set of demands and specifications.

Among the first considerations is the type of metal to be used. The decision rests mainly on the material the tank or silo has to hold. The most frequently used metals are carbon steel, stainless steel and aluminum. If the material to be stored is known to react with carbon steel, the tank or silo may require stainless steel or aluminum. And the inside of storage tanks that hold abrasive materials, such as sand or ash, can require a bonded layer with an abrasive-resistant finish, commonly called an AR plate or AR liner.

The next specifications to be determined are overall finish size and the thickness of the metal skin. The overall size and the intended contents both play a role in gauging the needed thickness. The most common is 1/4-inch plate, although Southern Metal Fabricators has been called on to fabricate tanks with metal as thick as 3/4 inch.

Height and diameter are also a function of the material to be stored, the purpose of the storage, and location for installation. Southern Metal Fabricators can create a tank of almost any size or configuration, for almost any material. We’ve manufactured and shipped tanks as large as 14 feet across and 86 feet tall, fully shop-welded, but we also create larger tanks in pieces and ship those components individually for field bolting and welding.

Access & Specialty Features for Bulk Storage Tanks & Silos

There are two inescapable certainties for every storage tank and silo, no matter what its size or what its function: material has to get into it, and material has to get out of it. We meticulously engineer and manufacture any kind of required openings and discharges, including ports for interfacing with conveyors, chutes and hoppers.

Cone-bottom tanks commonly require a discharge mechanism that allows manual or automated operation to dispense material into trucks that drive under them, and some tanks require multiple discharges (sometimes referred to as “pant legs”).

Southern Metal Fabricators is regularly called on to manufacture specialty tank features. One memorable request was for a tank designed to hold maple syrup. It required an integrated system of piping to carry hot water. When hooked up to a hot water source, the heat from the pipes keeps the syrup warm and flowing.

We also draw on our 21 years of experience in industrial stairs, ladders and safety railings to offer unmatched access products for every type of tank or silo, including manways, caged ladders, spiral stairs, and circular guard rails for the perimeters of the tops of tanks, custom rolled for precision fitting and installation.

Supports & Mountings for Industrial Tanks

A tower tank has got to stand on its own. Southern Metal Fabricators has the know-how, experience and manufacturing capabilities to take on any type of mounting requirements. Our scope covers all types of standard mountings, including skirted bottoms and bolting chairs. For elevated tanks, we specialize in the construction of structural steel legs and bracing.

Problem Containment

We like nothing better than to say, “Yes, we can solve that” to any type of material handling or containment challenge involving custom bulk storage tanks and silos. Call us today at 1-800-989-1330. Tell us what kind of storage tank or silo you need — and ask about our integrated storage solutions, including custom hoppers.

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