Silos Córdoba was founded in 1975 by Juan López Liétor, with the goal of meeting the needs of Spain’s livestock sector by providing grazing and storage solutions.
Until the early 1990s, the Company was focusing solely on the domestic market. But in 1994, Liétor’s son, Juan López Regalón, decided that Silos Córdoba should expand to overseas markets as a way of strengthening its business.
As a result, the Company experienced significant growth and for the next few years, became an award-winning Company, which was recognised as “best export company” and “best entrepreneur in foreign markets”.
Silos Córdoba went on to establish its own T&D department, which led to various innovations that were developed, tested and implemented into its technologies. Among these is a new range of chain conveyors and bucket elevators as well as the SIWA remote plant monitoring system and WINGRAIN plant management system, said Pablo A. Fernández, global sales director of Silos Córdoba’s grain storage division.
Fernandez shares with eFeedLink about the current developments of Silos Córdoba as well as its extensive services and complete storage solutions.
Please state some key milestones of Silos Córdoba, which has products available in more than 45 countries on four continents.
Silos Córdoba has bought GER, which is focused on conditioning for poultry warehouses. Thanks to this acquisition, Silos Córdoba Group covers a wider range of products in its poultry division by manufacturing climate control systems for the livestock industry.
In 2016, Silos Córdoba bought MGN, an engineering and manufacturing Company for feed mill projects. Currently, the Group is made of six different companies, including Silos Córdoba (bulk storage division), Matra (handling equipment division), Gandaria (livestock division), GER (climate control systems for livestock), MGN (feed mill division) and Quinta Metálica (metal cladding).
Please tell us more about your silos and handling equipment business.
The world population is still growing and needs to be fed. So the best option to keep cereals and grains out of damage by fungus, moulds, fermentation, insects and rodents is using silo technologies. International institutions like the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) are recommending the solution worldwide.
Many people think silo or handling equipment are common since the designs are similar and almost all of them are made of steel. But the key factor that makes the difference is what every manufacturer does in terms of design, quality, steel strength, steel coating and calculation parameters, which lead to the success of grain preservation.
Therefore, Silos Córdoba has always been pioneering the implementation of new and improved materials. We have one of the biggest silos available. We offer the highest steel strength and highest steel coating not only in silos but also in handling equipment and their accessories. These, in combination with our designs, result in high-end solutions for the market.
So the Company policy is focused on quality turnkey solutions and service which allow us to expand our activity worldwide.
How has the global feed milling industry changed since Silos Córdoba was established?
The feed milling industry has changed a lot since Silos Córdoba was established. This happened because of the new needs of the market such as better products that are able to speed up anual growth; the quality of products along with safety protocols; new laws regarding quality and control of the feed; and the learning process inside the feed mill industry.
The feed mill industry has undergone huge improvements in term of designs, quality, materials use. Our customers are, in fact, demanding better equipment which uses more efficient technology. At the same time, governments are conscious about food safety and enact quality-related laws which encourage the feed mill industry to improve their technologies. Complementary products like additives, nutrients or proteins also help to develop better food products.
Silos Córdoba is confident that, by creating its own feed mill division, it allows us to not only offer our customers a bigger portfolio of products us also to fulfil existing needs which we could not meet previously.
What do you think are some of the biggest concerns of your customers?
Reliability; as, at the end of the day, the core business of our customers is grain, which is to be kept safe in order to have a good quality product to sell. A good example is to consider the value of the grain inside a storage plant. The average value of the grain can be four to six times the value of the investment of the Project. Investments in storage plants tend to be high so imagine if customers cannot store grain properly; the losses could be huge.
Reliability can be offered thanks to a combination of services, quality and Price. Also, with manufacturers consolidating their positions in the market through alliances, co-operations are helping to provide customer complete solutions.
Technology has been improving, with new equipment, new designs, and new ways of doing things being launched. However, feed millers do not always have the proper knowledge to use the technologies efficiently. As part of our quality policy, Silos Córdoba teaches customers how to use the technology. We train our customers so that they are able to utilise 100% of our equipment.
In market trend, more customers are looking for main contractors, which are able to cover all their needs – from plant conception to management to exploring design, engineering, and Project integration and management. Everything is handled by one single supplier.
How do solutions provided by Silos Córdoba address these concerns?
Unlike other companies, Silos Córdoba chooses to offer complete storage solutions. We are now able to design and supply everything related to storage process. Our comprehensive solutions are not only focused on silos but also on different stages of the grain storage including receiving, cleaning, drying, storing and dispatching. Since 2016, these apply to feed mills as well. All our solutions are of the highest quality, in order to deliver the reliability customers are looking for.
Additionally, we offer full engineering services for our storage solutions as well as after-sales service and training. We teach and train customers in every single step of the process. We familiarise them with the technology, on how to handle them to get the reliability they need.
How would you offer after-sales services in each country you operate? Could you provide some specific examples?
Part of our strategy is seeking local partners in every new country we penetrate. A strong, new partnership is the key to provide good after-sales service to the customers. For this reason, our partners worldwide are focused on the market experience. Companies with complementary products, which are in the same field and have the necessary tools and knowledge, are our target and our best asset overseas.
Thanks to these partnerships, we offer market proximity and immediate services, and in accordance with the respective native languages of our markets.
How do you differentiate yourself from your competitors, in terms of silos and handling equipment?
Silos Cordoba’s synergy is based on a group of companies working together. The poultry division, handling equipment division, bulk storage division and feed mill division are the main pillars of this strategy. Thanks to the strategy, we are able to cover every demand and requirement.
We also use the highest steel strength available in the market. For example, our minimum steel strength is S350 GD, which is also the maximum quality used by our competitors. This is important as what our competitors offer is just a starting point for us. Thus, we offer more resilient structures which can better endure high wind speed, seismic zones, and continuous loading and unloading processes.
For coating – which is the outer layer of steel that protects against corrosion – we use Z-600 (G-210) as a standard for all our products. For customers demanding a higher quality, we have Magnelis, which has ZM310 as its maximum quality.
Our engineering team is able to design silos according to different calculation standards like Eurocode, which is popular in Europe; ANSI, which we normally use in Asia, Africa and America; and DIN.
In addition, we update our designs which are a step different from our competitors. For example, our ANSI design is based on version “2011” whereas our competitors tend to use lower version such as “2007” or “2003”.
Our design also allows lower accumulation of dust, foreign particles or even grain inside the silo once you discharge it. Smoother corrugation pitch is recommended for intensive use since it reduces the friction between the grain and wall sheets.
Lastly, another important factor i sour accessories such as overflow system, rotation sensors, anti-wear on bottom and sides, support legs, temperature sensors, inlets and outlets hoppers.
How is the increasing emphasis on sustainable agriculture influencing the requirements for silos and handling equipment? How is Silos Córdoba meeting demands?
I completely agree with sustainability. However, the requirements demanded are more focused on grain production and not storage plants although we are already emphasising the same aim.
As per silo technology, we always recommend those systems that prevent grain damages. You just need to consider fumigation: this process involves adding chemicals to the grain in order to control and kill insects, bacteria or fungus. However, fumigation is done normally once you have the problem inside your silos. I consider it an ineffective option since it is a passive protection measure to protect the grain quality. Therefore, I recommend other options in the market such as grain cooling which avoid these problems without requiring any chemical use in the grain bulk.
Could you share with us about your current research and product development activities?
Since the last three years, Silos Córdoba is getting a good feedback from our R&D department, which has been focusing on handling equipment. Efficiency is the key point in our new designs.
The new design of our handling equipment will be adapted for industrial and heavy purposes. Conveyors capacities have been increased from 20 tonnes to 1,000 tonnes per hour capacity. There are also many new features including inspection windows, internal anti-wear HDPE sheets or reinforced steel, protector tensioning system, belt misalignment detectors, rotation sensors and temperature sensors.
There is also the new design of the intermediate slide gates in chain conveyors. This is a unique system which prevents grain accumulation inside the chain conveyors.
Our SIWA system is a unique solution for remote storage plant monitoring. Basically, customers can check what is happening at their storage plants and track activities such as running hours, power consumption, and loading and unloading rates.
The WINDGRAIN management software was developed to control an entire storage Project.
We understand that Silos Córdoba is working on sales activities in Central Asian countries such as Kazakhstan. Could you share with us some recent updates?
Central Asia is still the main market for us. We have also created a team in Bangalore, India, where we will monitor SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) markets from. From Bangalore, we offer commercial, technical and supervision services. Our idea is to give better service to the market while at the same time, expanding our market penetration.
Regarding Kazakhstan, we are satisfied with our market share despite its political tensions and currency devaluation.
Where are the other major markets in Asia for Silos Córdoba’s silos and handling equipment?
In Asia for now, India, Indonesia and Sri Lanka have been our most important markets.
That said, markets change from year to year. Government aids, in term of financing, can also significantly affect the market. Therefore, companies like Silos Córdoba have to continually deal with this dynamic situation, which is why diversification and global presence are important in our strategy.