Engineering services

FEED and Value Engineering

With front-end engineering design (FEED), our design-build team can quickly provide preliminary plans with a +/-25 percent estimate that lets customers determine at the outset if a project’s scope fits within budget. We determine costs by being as specific as possible in the early stages of engineering, yielding relatively accurate numbers from the get-go.

Part of our foresight is made possible by value engineering. Whether you’re a farmer in Nebraska, USA, moving grain onto railcars post-harvest or a business owner storing coal in China, our engineers analyze your projects and come up with innovative ways to accomplish tasks with less money.

Even when the stored material is the same, every project is unique and deserves individual attention. Our team meets with customers, either on the phone or in person, to nail down the details for a dome’s proposed function. Need to fill and empty a dome once a year? Once a month? Once a week? Dome will conceive a plan for those operations, but not just any plan—the optimal plan for a custom dome and material-handling systems within and around it.

To save on costs, engineers rely on years of experience to craft the ideal plan, and they try innovative ideas too. That might mean conveyor supports sharing a foundation with the dome, yielding greater stability and support—plus substantial construction savings. Or it might mean building a ramp that will work for today’s dome but is also designed to function with adjacent dome likely to be built years later. By seeing the potential, our team incorporates future growth into today’s design.

Geotechnical Analysis

Making your selected site work best for you— it’s one of the first considerations for a project’s success, and it’s accomplished thanks to geotechnical analysis.

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 function determines the support beneath it.

With 35-plus years of experience, Dome Technology understands the loading of domes and is able to provide options in addition to the common approach of driving piles. With geotechnical analysis, engineers bore a hole into the earth to determine soil constitution and conduct testing on soil quality. From there, experts consider the risk tolerance and sediment tolerance, determining how much settling is likely and what kind of foundation can prevent it.

With a Dome Technology project, geotechnical analysis is addressed in one of two ways:

  1. The customer has already hired a third party to complete geotechnical exploration, and a report has been finished. Our design-build team uses the findings to begin running models, posing questions to the report writers as needed.
  2. The customer hires Dome Technology for the entire project, including the geotechnical analysis. Our project managers work with geotechnical engineers to determine what kind of support system is needed for the structure. Because Dome oversees and completes the project start to finish, there’s less work for customers and less risk too because one company is handling the entire scope—if a problem arises, the customer knows whom to call.

Material-Handling Systems Engineering

The way your dome system works depends on your product, and whether you need bucket elevators, traditional conveyors, drag-chain conveyors, or pipes that transport product pneumatically, Dome engineers use their material-handling know-how to customize a system for your business. Our design-build team creates both 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 you receive your product from origin, how you transport it from Point A to Point B, and how your equipment ought to be monitored all inform the mechanics of your dome. 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 your systems.

Engineers work closely with customers to design material-handling systems and get them installed correctly. To get things done right, our team relies on customers’ expertise and can offer efficient suggestions too.

Structural Engineering

The dome’s double curvature and structural engineering render it stronger than traditional structures, even when spanning 350 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 form also means no need for interior beams or columns since the structure is self-supporting.

Mechanical engineering

Need an aeration system to keep grain dry and at a stable temperature? Require temperature cables in a sugar dome to prevent walls from getting too cold, thus forming a candy coating on the inside? Our team collaborates with customers to understand the specific properties and handling of their stored material.

Dome Technology works with material testing labs for testing and determining storage needs, then conducts research and additional testing. During the planning process, customers can expect extensive questioning to identify needs, and throughout the process, they are involved as much as possible, signing off on stages of the plan and communicating regularly so construction and installation of systems can be completed as timely as possible with few corrections.

Electrical Engineering

Dome’s electrical engineers can design any type of electrical system needed on a project site—monitoring equipment, reclaiming equipment, lighting for the site, lighting for the walkways, conveyors, dust-handing systems, and more. As experts in the field, we know what size of electrical panel to install and create the logic to start and run it.

To get a project started, a local power provider brings electricity from power lines to a transformer, and from that point, one of our engineers brings power into an electrical room or similar sort of distribution center. Meanwhile, plans are drafted in-office for electrical systems that’ll control and monitor lighting and machines housed inside and outside the structure. Upon installation, an on-site operator—someone from the customer’s company—is trained on how the systems work.

More and more often, our 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—no waiting for a human being to tell it to shut down.

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