CYCLONE Evan packed 270km/h winds as it battered Fiji but wasn’t strong enough to damage a million-dollar Walla silo.
A Kotzur Silos team is in Fiji overseeing the construction of the silo — 28 metres high and 23 metres in diameter — which was almost completed when the full force of the cyclone hit on Monday.
The cyclone uprooted trees, ripped roofs of buildings and caused a widespread loss of power.
But the Kotzur silo, capable of storing 7750 tonnes of grain, suffered no damage.
The silo is the largest built by Kotzur and is being installed for a Fiji company FMF Food Limited, a flour mill that also produces biscuits for export to Australia.
Kotzur secured the job because FMF had to replace its existing silos.
The job includes some conveying equipment — for filling and unloading silo — and has a value of about $1 million.
“The silo going in substantially bigger than any other silos they’ve got there,” said Kotzur draftsman Sam Wiesner, who has worked on the job.
Kotzur created an all-new design to suit FMF’s purposes.
“It’s the largest grain silo we’ve produced and it’s also specially designed to cope with cyclones,” he said.
Kotzur worked closely with a Melbourne-based engineer to achieve a design to withstand winds of more than 300km/h.
The silo was shipped in separate sections to be put together on site.
Two Kotzur employees have been supervising Fijian workers on the project, arriving on November 1, starting the build two weeks later.
The hope to complete the work this week.
“All last week there was quite a bit of wind around and we were hoping to get it finished,” Mr Weisner said.
“They actually got to a point where they were about a metre from finishing off the silo.
“Because of that, we can’t actually anchor it to the concrete as normal, which is why we had to run chains back and forth to anchor it back to the footing.
“The silo’s come through unscathed.”
Mr Wiesner said buildings immediately around the silo had largely protected it from the cyclone.
Yesterday, the crew was waiting for the wind to die down before lifting up the silo to install the last ring of metal underneath.