“Our founder Jean-Claude Poncet worked in the silo industry in Canada and Algeria back in the 1980s and was confronted with the problem of silos not emptying properly. A small residue always remained. To obviate this inconvenience, he developed a solution for the automatic and complete emptying of silos that is also applicable to warehouses, hoppers, railcars and even ships. The technology is duly patented,” General Director Jean-Patrick Corso says, who joined Vibrafloor one year ago after having worked for a large French group of companies.
The early years were commercially difficult since there was no substantial demand, but around 1990 Vibrafloor made its first breakthrough in the international market. “We experienced a real boost from 2010 to 2012 with our turnover rising from one million to five to six million EUR due to the emerging biomass market, which has served as a kind of catalyst for our success and has turned out to become the defining industry to date,” says Mr. Corso. “The biomass markets currently account for 60% of our turnover.”
Vibrafloor’s reclaim system is integrated and installed in silos. Its modular components of approximately 2 by 3 m are installed on the silo floor with a slight incline of at least 8%. Unlike many traditional reclaim systems, which always leave a small residue, it operates multiple low-power modules which collaborate to guarantee a complete emptying of bulk storage of any size or form.
“The system utilizes a vibration created by an engine triggered by sensors that immediately send a signal when the motors need to operate. The system is delivered with an electric panel which controls the entire process,” explains Mr. Corso. “It is the vibrating wave that moves the material inside the silo. Due to assisted gravity from the incline of the floor, the residue is removed without human intervention, thus sparing the hazards of having personnel working inside the silo.”
Our concept guarantees complete emptying of the silo. Jean-Patrick CorsoGeneral Director
The system is mainly used for newly built silos with built-in slopes. “About 95% of our systems are found in new silos,” says Mr. Corso. “Even for non free-flowing materials like soya bean meals, for instance, easy operation is guaranteed. We provide various solutions for the most cohesive materials.”
With conventional emptying systems, large quantities of residue remain on the floor, resulting in huge costs of lost raw materials and cleaning expenses. Additional costs, clean-up time and safety aspects are factors that silo operators should consider.
“Our system does not degrade,” adds Mr. Corso. “The vibration system is often installed at locations such as ports, where high turnovers and reclaim rates are requested. Fast emptying results in time reductions and thus in overall profits, as less demurrage is a crucial issue in harbour operations.”
Today 95% of Vibrafloor’s systems are exported worldwide, with Europe remaining the main market. “Latin America offers brilliant prospects Brazil in particular. Vibrafloor offers its solutions in the biomass industry, the agro sector and industry in general. We foresee huge potential in this region,” says Mr. Corso.
All in all, Vibrafloor is active in several industrial sectors today: The biomass industry, such as wood pellets, wood chips, sawdust, bagasse and husks.
Vibrafloor reclaim systems are also currently used in the agro business. Vibrafloor customers are silo operators, production plants, and well logistics and marine operators. “Until now we have been unique in the market. There might be alternative technologies, but they do not offer such comparative advantages as vibrafloors do,” stresses Mr. Corso. “Our system does not require any specific maintenance, does not disperse vibrations to the structures, and it is able to fully reclaim any bulk material left on any floor.”
Another aspect not be underestimated is the low energy consumption of the system, especially at a time when energy costs are rising and have a great impact on overall production costs. Vibrafloors are not subject to significant wear and operate smoothly.
“Innovation and state-of-the-art technology are our driving forces. Our R&D department cooperates closely with universities and partners to improve and expand our product portfolio further, making it suitable for almost any bulk storage-related environment,” says Mr. Corso. “We are very optimistic that the demand for vibrafloors will keep growing worldwide.”