INNOVATION IN CATWALKS AND TOWERS, THE CHIEF WAY
by Christopher Riggleman, Chief, USA
From humble beginnings to a diverse corporation with a global presence, Chief Industries, Inc has not wasted a moment since it opened for business in 1954. With divisions and subsidiaries representing a diverse array of interests, and a skilled workforce of approximately 1,300, Chief is proud to have celebrated its 60th anniversary, and looks forward to a future of continued growth.
Established in 1961, Chief Agri has grown to offer a full line of grain and commodity storage, aeration and material handling products throughout the world. From our mission, to our products, and our brand, we have our finger on the pulse of agricultural in order to provide safe, solid and quality products. The key to creating trusted equipment is change.
Change and the increased need for safety
Changes in farming technology have increased crop yields dramatically. In order to produce quality yields, the size and speed of farm equipment, from harvest to storage, has challenged the agricultural business and technology side to meet the robust demands.
Even on the farm level, the change from filling bins with augers, to the use of bucket elevators, has come from the result of both size of the farms, to the ease of operation and safety standpoint of permanent installation of bucket elevators.
Along with the equipment, the demand for safety of personnel has increased. The need for easily accessible equipment for personnel is essential in today's agricultural workforce. Chief is not only aware of the demand for superior standards of safety, but we also work with installers and customers to design tower and catwalk systems that provide ease of installation and operator usage.
How Chief meets these demands via catwalks and towers
Because each customer operation base is unique, we provide a variety of support options. We work closely with our customers to provide a detailed designed system to fit any layout. With a full line of four-column and two-column towers, and a diversity of widths of catwalks, we can help design a system for any application. We offer many accessories and customisable options to meet any application.
Tower systems are used either independently to support equipment such as bucket elevators, cleaners' distributors or tied in with other structures, such as a catwalk to span equipment from one area of a facility to another. Towers are also used as a means of access for personnel to equipment on a grain facility.
They can be designed in a variety of widths, as either four-legged square or rectangle or two legs, that are supported off of a structure such as a grain bin wall. Towers can be equipped with items such as stairs and platforms and be connected to other structures, such as storage or load out tanks.
The goal for any project is improved access. This includes items such as unique styles of 'access bracing' to allow easier access into a tower, adjustable fully grated internal platforms within the tower; and the ability on any level to provide access for service and operation. Chief offers both wrap around and switchback stair options or a combination of both. Stair access can be limited to authorised personnel with enclosed access section at the base of the stairs.
Chief towers are fabricated specially for the design loads being placed on the tower to maximise cost effectiveness. With fully galvanised construction for long lasting quality over painted or powder coated finishes and use bolt together construction to reduce field welding, Chief towers are made to last.
Catwalks are used to support equipment such as conveyors and allow personnel access across areas of a facility. Catwalks are supported at either end by a structure such as a tower or a grain bin roof. Loads being placed on a grain bin roof need reviewed as not to over load the peak load.
When installing catwalks, several things should be considered. If the catwalk will be supported by the bin peak, can it support the load of catwalk and equipment? If this is an issue, look at using a catwalk to span over the peak so no load is being placed on the peak. Settlement on new silo installation should also be considered.
Bins may settle more than the tower, so adjustments will need to be built into the catwalk at the bin peak or catwalk should be spanned over the bin peak.
A cost comparison should be reviewed when spanning larger distances with catwalks, whether the use of an intermediate tower to reduce the span and allow the use of a lighter, more cost-efficient catwalk, versus spanning the entire distance with a heavier catwalk.
Future expansion should also be considered. For example, if a catwalk supporting a conveyor to fill a bin is being installed, consideration needs to be given, if a second bin will be installed in the future. Will the catwalk need to be elevated higher to allow future catwalk and conveyor to be placed under it? Good preparation for future expansion will save both time and money and help with a better-quality setup down the road.
Chief catwalk systems offer a variety of widths and span capability. Catwalks use a hot-dipped galvanised construction and bolt together construction. Catwalks come in multiple section lengths to meet any application. Chief catwalks have a variety of options to improve safety and ease of operation, such as end and mid-span walk-around systems to be used at the head of conveyors to access the motors and drives or access the catwalk system from areas such as a bin roof.
Catwalks come with either 24' (61cm) walkways or full width walkway surface across with of catwalks depending on individual application needs. With ever-changing agricultural advancements, Chief will continue to innovate in design to maintain their position as an industry leader in the manufacture of robust and cost-efficient towers and catwalks.