Kazakhstan harvested more than 22 million tons of grain in 2017. Then, where does the “gold” stock from our fields go, how is it stored? We’ll learn all about it in a special report by NUR.KZ called “A day in the life of a chief engineer in a storage facility of Kazakhstan.
We have chosen the grain facility that “feeds” the city of Astana, located in the village Marinovka.
“Can you hear the noise? Right now we are transporting the grain for winter storage. This silo is full, the grain was brought in September – the temperature at that time, 8-10 degrees, is maintained inside. On a sunny frosty day, we turn on the fans and draw heat from the grain silo to equalise the temperature with the outside, otherwise, condensation will form inside and the grain will become damp, “says Sergey Krivosheev, chief engineer of Irchenko Elevator.
His principal responsibility is to ensure the grain is conserved in a perfect state.
Grain reception, quality assessment, drying, cleaning, storage, shipping… at the facility, he monitors every process and manages the work of the entire plant.
“I begin my working day with a meeting with engineers, mechanics and site managers. In the morning I plan the whole working day and what each team does. We have 53 workers. During the harvest, which is September-October-November, we work almost daily, in three shifts. Grain must be collected before it rains. I control all processes from the beginning to the end” says Sergey.
First, the grain goes through the laboratory. The truck with the valuable cargo stops near the building, where it is viewed through online cameras and the automated probe takes a handful of grain for analysis”.
The chief engineer comes here several times a day to make sure everything is going well. The head of the laboratory pours some grain into a special apparatus.
“This shows protein, humidity, starch and gluten. So we can determine the quality of the grain. We also find out whether it is dry or wet, whether it needs to be cleaned of debris and impurities.
Then the truck goes to the weigh station. The information about the truck, its brand and weight is transferred to the computer, so we can calculate the net weight of the grain “, – says Sergey.
One of the most controlled employees is the operator in charge of distributing the grain.
“Operator’s work is one of the most important. The truck is unloaded into one of the two reception pits. Each of them takes up to 100 tons per hour. The operator receives instructions from the laboratory about what to do with the grain”says the chief engineer.
Sergey gets the data on the grain received from the computer and goes to the operator’s desk to check whether he sent the valuable product correctly: for drying, cleaning or directly for storage in a silo.
“We have a license to accept wheat, barley and oil crops. Here we have indicator lights – we can see what discharge gate is open or what conveyor is working. All grain movement can be tracked from the computer. If something goes wrong, if you randomly mix different types of grain, it is a disaster”. Therefore, this process must be carefully controlled.
FROM ITALY, SPAIN AND ARGENTINA TO KAZAKHSTAN
Equipment on the “Irchenko Elevator” is considered to be one of the best in Kazakhstan.
“In 2014 Kazagrofinance JSC financed the purchase of equipment from Italy, Spain and Argentina – it is a very expensive facility. We bought 8 silos where you can store up to 40.000 tons of grain.
“Here we have an Argentine dryer. It works on gas – we don’t use diesel any more. The dryer volume ranges from 30 to 40 tons per hour. We have two dryers. They are fully automated – we only press the gas administration button. They have three degrees of protection against leakage”- says Sergey enthusiastically.
This is the third season the facility has been receiving grain and there have been no breakdowns. The engineer says that the equipment is very resistant and durable.
Another reason to be proud is a 6-meter tower for grain cleaning with “Petkus” machinery. It is able to clean up to 120-150 tons of grain per hour.
“The machines must be lubricated, the elevators tightened… All this is the engineer’s job. Before cleaning the grain, we place gratings on the machines – for barley, for wheat, for oil seeds”.
It’s time to ship – clean and dry grain, leaves on trucks or in wagons, loose or packed in sacks. The engineer leads us to the packaging department – it is automated.
“Here there are two operators – the truck is loaded in 2 hours. When the truck leaves, the computer substructs its weight and calculates how many bags left the building and its weight. The machinery is from Spain, it is expensive, you can not leave it in unexperienced hands.
Workers must be technically trained and constantly controlled. How they work, how they place the bags, how to improve their performance. Our second device is also fragile: it labels and sew the bags. I personally control the quality of the thread. The trucks can be stopped by a simple broken thread.”- says Sergey.
The chief engineer ends each working day with office work: he collects the data of each zone, evaluates the volumes, makes reports, notes failures and breaks.
And in the afternoon, he plans the next day to continue preserving the “gold” stocks of the Kazakhstan population.