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October 26, 2011 7:00 AM CDT

BMI’s silo system

The uses and benefits of a silo system


The BMI silo is a key component in an integrated product delivery system.

The BMI silo is a key component in an integrated product delivery system.
Imagine: no more enormous dust plumes and empty cement bags on your jobsite, and no more large piles of hardened material and empty pallets lying around. Dirty sand and wasted space are a thing of the past, and you can say goodbye to long set-up times, inconsistent product and unnecessary demands on your crew. These are benefits of a silo system, according to BMI, a company with regional offices in Chicago and San Francisco.

BMI dubs its Silo System as “The Clean Choice” and says it makes masonry practically a no-brainer for contractors. The system combines blending, delivery, storage, mixing and pumping into a single, seamless system.

How the process works

BMI says you order a silo (as many as you need) to your jobsite. A specially designed hydraulic truck delivers each silo filled with clean, pre-blended BMI product. The driver places the silo, which has an eight- x eight-foot footprint, wherever you want it. A compact, computer-controlled mixer comes attached to the bottom of the silo. You simply plug it into a power outlet, and connect it via garden hose to a potable water supply.

In 10 minutes, you’re ready to make high-quality, highly consistent mortar or grout, with the push of a single-push button. While this all may sound ultramodern and revolutionary to some, a variation of the BMI system actually has been around for nearly 50 years.

“The silo system was developed in Europe in the late-1960s,” says Arnold Germann, president of BMI Products. “The goal was to improve efficiency on the construction site, while keeping the site cleaner, with less dust.”

Germann says BMI Products introduced a variation of this European system to North America in 1988. Eventually, this would become the company’s signature silo system.

“We’ve been using BMI almost exclusively for at least 10 years now,” says Al Esche, partner at Esche & Lee, the commercial contractor responsible for masonry work in Chicago’s Wrigley Field, the Great Lakes Naval Base, Chicago’s McCormick Place and the Loyola University campus. “In 10 years, I’ve never had a mortar complaint.”

While he attributes that fact to the factory-blended quality and consistency of the BMI product, he also cites the cost efficiency of the system itself as a primary benefit to Esche & Lee.

“The largest percent of our job cost,” Esche says, “is labor, not material.”

With the BMI system, Esche says, his crew is free from hauling enormous bags of material, or what he likes to call “80-pound back breakers.” That means he reduces his crew hours and pays fewer workers comp claims. He only needs one worker versus three, and the company doesn’t have to purchase any $4,000 mixers. Esche says the BMI Silo System pays for itself.

How the silo works

So what makes this system so simple, powerful and efficient? An ordinary silo is nothing more than a storage container for product. The BMI silo, on the other hand, is a key component in an integrated product delivery system. It can hold up to 36 tons of material, and it’s fully enclosed and self-contained, so the product won’t be contaminated by dirt or moisture. The silo keeps the material perfectly dry until it’s mixed with water. That makes working in subzero temperatures no problem, since dry product doesn’t freeze.

BMI says it delivers the silo to the jobsite pre-filled with as much as 11 tons of high-quality, scientifically engineered product. An additional 25 tons can be blown into it as needed, as often as needed. When your supplies run low, you simply call BMI, and a pneumatic bulk truck filled with fresh product will be dispatched to the jobsite within 24 hours.

There’s never a charge for delivery. You only pay for BMI’s product. It’s priced by the ton, and, since it remains pristine in the silo while on the jobsite, you only pay for what you use.

Weighed and pre-blended in a factory by a computerized system to insure a consistent mix, BMI’s mortar and grout incorporate ingredients that include crushed, cleaned and graded sand. Mortar is produced to specification, and can be adjusted to the masonry or brick unit, resulting in a better bond, better workability and better water retention.

“I know that I’ll get a consistent product,” says Esche. “I know that it’s automatically going to be in compliance with masonry specifications.”

In addition, custom colors and computerized color matching are available, and uniform color throughout the job is guaranteed.

Esche recalls the time he had six of BMI’s silos on a single jobsite. Each contained a different colored mortar, and each produced a consistent color throughout the job. “If you’re hand-mixing that,” Esche laughs, “good luck!”

The compact-but-powerful mixer  delivers a uniform mix.
The compact-but-powerful mixer delivers a uniform mix.

The mixer

Another essential component in the BMI Silo System is the compact-but-powerful mixer that comes attached to the bottom of the silo. A reliable electric motor drives a continuous, high-capacity screw that blends the dry product with water to deliver a uniform mix. A computerized control panel monitors the mixer motor to ensure consistency. Operated continuously, the system can produce as much as three to four cubic yards per hour. Mixing is automatic and consistent, every time.

When your silo is delivered, a BMI technician will explain to your crew how to operate the system and the control panel. Should problems arise later, call BMI, and a field-service representative can help. If your problem can’t be solved over the phone, the company will dispatch immediately a technician to your jobsite, to help minimize expensive downtime for you.

BMI produces a variety of materials, from masonry mortars and adhesives, to plasters, stuccos, self-leveling floor products and more, and all are compatible with all of the equipment in the BMI Silo System.

For more information, call 888-745-6649, or visit

Originally published in Masonry magazine.

About the Author

Masonry, the official publication of the Mason Contractors Association of America, covers every aspect of the mason contractor profession - equipment and techniques, building codes and standards, business planning, promoting your business, legal issues and more. Read or subscribe to Masonry magazine at


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