AGRANA Sugar Plant – Refined Sugar Bulk Storage – Hungary
Teamwork key to completing Hungarian sugar dome ahead of deadline
Even though Dome Technology acted as general contractor for a 60,000-ton sugar dome in Kaposvar, Hungary, completing the project was a true team effort and sprint to the finish that included players from both American and European companies.
Built for Magyar Cukor, a subsidiary of Agrana, the dome was planned to increase the storage capacity of Hungary’s only remaining operational sugar factory and was chosen for its ability to store more product while using less real estate. That potential storage capacity could equal bigger business for the company.
“Sugar’s like any commodity; if you can store it and sell it when the commodity is high, then obviously you’re going to do better,” Dome Technology project manager Daren Wheeler said.
But the catch was that this project had to be done quickly due to the upcoming fall sugar campaign. The requested timeline was enough to make Wheeler worry, but selecting quality subcontractors made it possible not only to finish days before deadline but to produce a dome recognized as a key element of the largest project in Hungary in 2013; even the prime minister turned out for the opening ceremony.
“It was an important project both economically and a boost for national pride for the Hungarian people,” Wheeler said.
The dome required aeration floor systems to remove excess moisture and maintain optimal temperature—musts for keeping sugar in premium condition. The floor incorporates a hopper system in the bottom, and a reclaim screw sweeps around to gather product that doesn’t fall into the hoppers. A single tunnel with unique waterproofing beneath the dome wrapped up the reclaim conveying system.
The dome structure and its equipment required additional attention to ensure proper food-handling practices. Since sugar storage and handling requires a smoother finish on surfaces, the team applied a coating to the stem wall to smooth the shotcrete before applying a food-grade coating—“anywhere the sugar touches an adjacent surface, you have to have food-grade finish or coating,” Wheeler said. The coating also needed some elastomeric properties to span small cracks that may develop in the concrete shell.
Because of the aggressive schedule and array of design demands, Dome Technology looked to expand its team by reaching out to companies like IKB in Germany, which designed the reclaim system, and M Engineering, a Hungarian engineering firm instrumental in the design of deep foundations, tunnel, and headhouse.
Strabag, the leading provider of construction services in Europe, was selected as prime subcontractor, and its contribution was especially important to the project and was borne out of competition. Strabag had also bid on the entire project, but when Dome Technology was selected as general contractor, company leadership turned around and hired Strabag to help with elements like site work, demolition, deep foundations, tunnel work, the headhouse, and conveyor bridges.
“We just had a great, great relationship,” Wheeler said. “They were instrumental in getting this project done. It was probably one of the best collaborative projects I’ve worked on.”
Site work began January 10, 2013, and the new storage facility was handed over to the client for commissioning Oct. 10, 2013.