Four keys to securing the ideal dome

Providing customers with engineering and construction service together brings value to the project by delivering solution-oriented problem solving. But four additional means of analysis and engineering that work together now and into the future are listed below:

Geotechnical analysis

Making the selected site work best for a customer is one of the first considerations for a project’s success. Since every location around the world is unique, every dome needs to be supported in a unique way. And since each dome holds different materials in different quantities, the product and soil profile determine the necessary support beneath it. Geotechnical analysis considers the soil stratification and site history, and the findings identify risk tolerance and settlement tolerance. The most complementary foundation is then selected for the project.

Engineering for material-handling systems

The way a dome system works depends on the product. Whether companies need bucket elevators, traditional conveyors, drag-chain conveyors or pipes that transport product pneumatically, Dome Technology engineers use their material-handling know-how to customize a system. The design-build team creates systems working within the dome and those working outside to move stored products into and out of the structure and all the way to the train, boat or truck.

How companies receive product from origin, how they transport it from place to place and how equipment ought to be monitored determine the dome mechanics. Attention to the details of stored products — wood pellets requiring a certain moisture content or coal kept cool enough to safely store, for example — informs the process of selecting equipment for material handling.

Structural engineering

The dome’s double curvature and structural engineering render it stronger than traditional structures, even when spanning as much as 330 feet. The dome consists of an outer PVC membrane, polyurethane insulation and layers of steel-reinforced concrete. The construction process produces a super-strong structure, one that can support a head-house transfer tower that a comparative structure just couldn’t tolerate without tremendous extra support and cost. The self-supporting dome needs no interior beams or columns.

Electrical engineering

Dome Technology’s electrical engineers can design any type of electrical system — monitoring equipment, reclaim equipment, lighting for the site, lighting for the walkways, conveyors, dust-handing systems and more. Then the team identifies the size of electrical service and creates the logic to start and operate the facility.

More and more often, engineers design systems that run on a programmable logic control, a complex computer-and-sensor system that ensures operations run in the correct sequence — Conveyor A before Conveyor B, for instance — and detects when things go awry. If there’s an error, the system shuts down automatically until the operator resolves the problem and restarts the system.

This level of engineering eliminates much of the potential for human error and relieves the burden on site operators and customers alike.

The above is an excerpt of a Dome Technology article that ran in the June 2016 issue of Dry Cargo International.