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Coronavirus outbreak increases the importance of grain storage

13 May 202012 min reading

“In general, all states have a long-term policy of keeping grain stock in case of emergency. However, the stocks of many countries were finished, they were caught either with insufficient stocks or just nothing. Now, countries have stopped trading grain, and everyone is preoccupied with their own troubles. Therefore, in the future, all states will try to keep their stocks more abundant against the state of emergency. In this context, the importance of warehousing activities will increase.”

Sefa SAATÇİOĞLU General Manager MYSILO

During the coronavirus pandemic process, many major producer countries that are exporters of grain have stopped or restricted their foreign sales to guarantee their people's food safety. Countries dependent on imports, particularly Egypt, tried to make large purchases in panic. In this process where the food supply chain has come to a breaking point, it has been understood how vital grain storage capacities are.

As Miller Magazine, we had the chance to talk with Sefa Saatçioğlu, General Manager of Mysilo, one of the world's leading companies in grain storage, about the future of the industry and Turkey's general situation in this context. Below are Mr. Saatçioğlu's evaluations:

Mr. Saatçioğlu, can you please give us information about your company and its fields of activity? Our company was established in 2000 under the structure of SFA GROUP in Aksaray with a 40-year production experience to produce grain storage silos and handling equipment. Since our establishment, we have transformed into a young, innovative, continuously developing, expert and leading organization by carrying out more than 2500 projects in more than 80 countries across 5 continents. We put our consistent performance, demonstrating an example of sustainable growth in Turkey and we have taken our place among the world's most powerful and reputable companies on an industrial basis.

40 million tons of grain can be stored annually in all domestic and foreign facilities we have installed since our establishment. This is almost equal to the annual grain harvest of Turkey. It is an incredible source of pride for us.

One of the issues that distinguish our company from our biggest competitors is the importance we attach to R&D. We are the only Turkish company in our industry that has official R&D and we allocate a substantial annual budget.

Thanks to the value we attach to our R&D and employees, we have always brought together the countries we work in with the latest technology. We constantly add new products to our portfolio. These works continue without slowing down with a team of 25 expert engineers.

We manage our quality management systems with our professional corporate identity, and the process that starts with the demand from our customers with our special software that we have written within our organization ensures that everything is traceable from project to pricing, production, shipment, assembly, and after-sales services. This gave us the ability to make improvements by making very quick decisions. One of the biggest advantages of our silos is that we produce them with the steel sheets that have the narrowest corrugation on the world. The corrugated form of our silos on the wall sheets has a measure of 65mm pitch. We are the only company that can make production in these dimensions. This means that the strength of our silos is higher than our competitors.

Can you tell us about your product portfolio? Our product range is very extensive. We produce most of the equipment that may be needed in grain storage facilities in our own facility. We are not dependent on any company.

We can produce all the necessary equipment such as steel grain storage silos, the handling equipment we use in loading and unloading, temperature monitoring systems inside the silo, control automation systems of the facility, pre-cleaning machines, and dust collection systems.

In addition, we offer professional project design services with our 'Silopark' company and we stand by our turnkey business partners at every stage with our after-sales services.

We have 4 companies operating under the structure of SFA GROUP: • Siloport Grain Storage Systems Inc. Co., our production company, • Silopark Construction & Machine Industry Inc. Co., our company which manages domestic sales and marketing operations, • Mysilo Grain Storage Systems Inc. Co., our company which manages overseas sales and marketing operations, and

• Mysilo Agricultural Products Licensed Warehousing Co., our company for licensed warehousing activities.

How did you decide to enter this sector? Can you describe the factors that pushed you to invest in this area? There were not many silo manufacturers outside Europe and America at the time when we established our company. The advantages of storing grain in steel silos were not well known. Because there were few steel silo producers in the 2000s, the costs of imported products were very high. What I did was to identify the gap and need in the market.

So how would you describe Mysilo's current position in the grain storage and transportation systems industry? Mysilo is the firm that produces the largest capacity silos and transportation equipment in South America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. We can reach many points of the world with our exports, services, and dealer network.

With our whole team, we proceed to our 2025 targets with an incredible enthusiasm with our slogan, "What we have is not enough, are there any better". Our goal is to be number one not only in the continents I have mentioned but also on a global scale. If I may so, I do not want to express our targeted figure here. But I can explain it in 2025.

We take our place every year in Turkey's top 600 exporting companies and we are increasing our exports every day and moving to a higher rank. Mysilo is the top exporting company in the sector.

Can you give us information about your production capacity and the technologies you use? Our factory in Aksaray has steel silos and equipment production capacity of 3 million tons per year with 600 employees, of which around 150 are white collars, in an area of 100,000 m2. We produce completely with robotic systems and special CNC machines.

Our expert team consisting of engineers, technicians, mechanics, and experienced operators performs the production, sales, installation, and after-sales services of the silos and equipment in a professional and institutional way.

Production is made with raw materials procured by the best quality steel manufacturers of Europe and Turkey and with the world-class production norms. There are three well-accepted standards in the design of steel silos: ANSI, EUROCODE, and DIN norms. Mysilo is capable to design in accordance with these three norms.

Whether the place where the silos will be installed is an earthquake zone, their wind and snow loads and extra loads coming to the silos are carefully taken into consideration by our engineers who conduct the design work.

You have concluded a huge project in Sharjah, the third-largest emirate of the United Arab Emirates. You have established the largest pulses storage facility in the region, consisting of 12 silos. Can you give us some information about this project? This project was really special. Our customer was one of the largest pulses suppliers in the region. Our customer in that area does not only conduct storing but also meets the pulses with the customer with cleaning, processing, and packaging processes implemented to the imported pulses. In this facility, we coated our silos completely with sandwich panels. By this means, we protected it from the heat of the desert and sandstorms. Filling and discharging at the facility are performed entirely by belt conveyors. Our target is zero waste, zero breakage.

In which other countries is Mysilo currently conducting projects? It would be wrong to say “this and that area are dense”. We have a diversified market. In fact, this gives us an advantage. Every year, different markets can be active or passive.

We observe that the data monitoring and automation process is becoming increasingly important in grain storage, as in many areas. Could you share the solutions and works you provide on this matter with us? As Mysilo, we work hard on this issue. Every day more and more questions are coming from our customers on these issues. Thanks to the software and automation systems we produce in our R&D structure, we now have some practices other than classical methods. By monitoring the quality, temperature, and humidity of the stored products, we minimize operator errors to a minimum thanks to the automatic aeration system.

Along with fumigation systems, we offer our customers advanced smart systems and automation systems that allow tracking and reporting of level and volume data, storing the grain for a longer time without deterioration or loss of quality, from the moment it enters the facility until it exits the facility.

The coronavirus, which almost captured the world, hit international trade. International circulation has been restricted. At this point, I want to ask two questions. First, how did these restrictions affect your raw material supply? Second, how have your overseas projects been affected by these measures? We had no problems with the progress of production in accordance with our plans and in our raw material inventory management processes. First, we never closed our factory in this process. We continued production in the usual capacity and plan. Secondly, we have a strong raw material inventory. We stick by the deadlines and the plan. However, we have experienced short-term delays in shipments due to travel restrictions, particularly in highway transports.

I would also like to state that we have positively concluded the agreements of our numerous projects which we have been pursuing thanks to the trust we have provided to our customers in this critical period.

After the coronavirus pandemic broke out, we have seen that many countries, primarily North African countries, imported grains in panic to ensure the food security of their populations. The vital importance of grain storage capacities has been understood in this process. Can you share your thoughts on this matter with us? How will this pandemic affect the future of your industry? In general, all states have a long-term policy of keeping stock for emergency states. With this pandemic, the following is understood: Governments saw how realistic and indispensable this policy is. However, the stocks of many countries were finished, they were caught either with insufficient stocks or just nothing. Now, countries have stopped trading grain, and everyone is preoccupied with their own troubles. Therefore, in the future, all states will try to keep their stocks more abundant against the state of emergency. In this context, the importance of warehousing activities will increase.

Can you give us information about Turkey's grain storage capacity? Does Turkey have sufficient capacity? Well, we can talk about this very topic based on the data of the Turkish Grain Board (TMO). As far as I know, 34 million tons of grain is produced in Turkey on average and 70 percent of this is used to be placed on the market. We can store 18 million tons of grain in licensed warehouses. 13 million tons of this belongs to the private sector. Looking at these data, the storage deficit in Turkey can be seen clearly. The government provides incentives for both rural development and licensed warehousing in order to meet this deficit. This deficit will be met within a year or two.

Turkish Grain Board (TMO) attaches great importance to the development of a licensed warehousing system. Could you give information about the last point reached within the scope of this project? At what stage are we in the targets set for the establishment of grain silos? Together with TMO, the Ministry of Customs and Trade activated the licensed warehousing and commodity exchange in order to ensure supply-demand balance and healthy storage of products. As far as I know, 183 companies obtained licenses, and 91 companies are currently conducting storing. These 91 companies have a total capacity of 4.8 million tons. Currently, many companies are increasing their capacity and there are many newly built projects that will be ready for this season. As far as I know, the state aims to reach a total capacity of 10 million tons. Within the next 2 or 3 years, this capacity will reach a sufficient stage.

As MYSiLO LİDAŞ, we have a total storage capacity of approximately 300,000 tons in our Aksaray, Yozgat-Yerköy, Yozgat-Şefaatli, Eskişehir, and Kırklareli facilities. We are one of Turkey's largest licensed warehousing businesses. From now on, our investments will continue without slowing down.

“WE HAVE DECIDED TO INCREASE OUR PRODUCTION CAPACITY” It has been 20 years that Mysilo is in the industry. During this period, it succeeded in substantial things and became a prominent player in the industry. So, what are your goals for the forthcoming decades? For the nonce, our 2025 targets rank in priority. I have already mentioned: In 2025, of course, we will set new goals for this new decade. Believing in our industry and team, we aim for steady growth. We continue to make new investment decisions with my belief in our business, our brand, and most importantly, my team. As part of our continuous development strategy, we have decided to add a confined space of 30,000 m2 in addition to our factory for capacity increase.

We continue to achieve our goals without slowing down. I believe that we will be the largest silo and equipment manufacturer in the world with the exponential increase in our capacity. The projecting of our additional investments is at the last stage. We will have started our construction in a very short time.

Is there anything else you would like to add? As a last word, I would like to thank our customers who have supported and preferred us for many years. I would like to state that we will constantly make new announcements with our strategic collaborations and new products. Just keep following Mysilo… I wish everyone an easy, healthy, joyful, and fertile harvest.

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