Providing Innovative Solutions in the Grain Storage Industry

Based in Fiske, Sask., Darmani engineering brings a new edge to the Canadian steel storage products. The company focuses primarily on Western Canadian and U.S. markets, but in the past few years has engaged with the global marketplace, and plans to deliver its innovative storage solutions to the world. Darmani focuses on building innovative solutions in the grain storage industry, and the company’s technical and agricultural know-how and intensive focus on product research and development are the key indigents to the company’s ongoing success.

Darmani started quite prosaically — by modifying and improving competitors’ products, and creating practical solutions for existing grain bins. Today, Darmani offers everything-grain-storage solutions, with products range suited for the smallest farmer and the largest corporate multinational, building grain bins, hopper bins, temporary storage, steel floors, and aeration and temperature monitoring equipment.

Darmani continues to offer products with unique features such as aeration systems, steel floors and Skylift elevators. Darmani aeration systems eliminate the need for the full floor aeration as well as unload tube in bins up to 20,000 bushels. The Darmani advantage is to mount the aeration fan to the bin door, then combining the two systems into one single cost-effective unit. The company’s steel floors represent a simple and unique innovation in the grain storage industry.

Unlike expensive concrete that can crack and is permanent, the advantage of the Darmani steel floor is that they sit on a gravel foundation and are anchored to the ground for wind protection, allowing the customer to be able to move the bins if they are to be either resold and/or moved to a new location. Darmani also developed its Skylift – a small, portable and safe elevator that easily mounts to new and existing grain bins and is more cost effective than many of the outdated systems used to get to the top of the bins (ladders, safety cages or spiral staircases).

Curtis Epp, Operations Manager of Darmani Grain Storage, and second generation behind the family business, sat down with The Canadian Business Journal to discuss the Darmani advantage, engineering, and the latest engineering business developments.

Since we last spoke with Epp, the company continued to invest in its engineering base and developing new solutions and new markets. “We continue to focus on growing our engineering capabilities and design. Many companies build a single product or a set of pre-set solutions. This forces the customer to make a decision based on a limited variety. Darmani is different. If you compare our products with competition, the competition will likely look all the same, while our product stands out.”

“Starting with the lids — we have done extensive element testing, wind especially,” he continues. “We have also increased the diameter of the entrance for easier access, which means more vulnerability, now we need reinforced cover, but increased diameter means more weight to lift and open, so we have installed this lid on spring mechanism, and we installed track so it opens easily and with control, while taking the elements – wind, but also water and moisture – out of the equation. We also build a vented lid, and the vents can be opened and closed with a single lever.”

Darmani has invested heavily in these systems, and accomplished this through research and development, and engineering. The company designs and field tests its products as well, testing the minimum and maximum weights under which the bins are still operational, and crash studies on the competitors’ products to cross-test competition and its own products — all done to get a leg up and stay ahead of the competition.

To maintain its edge, the company partnered with engineering companies to confirm the designs and design the production and construction process and technological requirements in order to make the product shippable and easy to assemble by any professional crew anywhere in the world.

“Quality engineering is necessary as the grain bins continue to increase in size and this represents a risk. Also, this kind of shippable product comes with liabilities, so we outsourced this design in order to get the best and safest design. If we were doing this internally, the engineer may focus on lowering the weight of the product for shipping purposes, while using outsourced engineering service means that the firm takes on the liabilities, so it’s paramount for them to create a design that’s safe and up to the code, so our engineering partners create and confirm the designs and make recommendations to meet the various international codes. We are very happy with the work of our engineering partners,” notes Epp.

While the company works mostly in Canada, the management team is well aware of the worldwide opportunities, and has built notable contacts in Australia, Russia and the U.S according to Epp. “We have met with people and had visitors to our facilities. Interestingly enough, there is a need for this type of product in Australia as the need for larger bins continues to increase, and one of our bigger hopper bins is close to their flat bottom bins. We opened these markets, we designed for export, and we plan to start shipping in the summer and fall to these markets. And we continue to pursue the opportunities in the growing grain bin market around the world.”