Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

How does a Macon Building Differ from a Grain Bin?

Grain bins, concrete silos, and steel buildings have long been the predominant grain storage solutions in the grain industry. However, the emergence of hoop buildings, such as the Macon Building, introduces a novel alternative to traditional storage methods. In the proceeding analysis, the unique characteristics and benefits associated with Macon Buildings are shown in comparison to grain bins.


Grain Conditioning


Grain bins have a variety of aeration options, all of which are at the bottom of the grain bin and push air through the grain column out the roof of the bin.  In a hoop building, since grain is stored flat and distributed more widely, aeration can often occur more effectively than in a grain bin.  Aeration in the bottom, top, and center of the Macon building creates a strategic balancing of air to eliminate excess moisture without causing shrinkage. 

In a Macon Building, aeration can be targeted to a specific area of the building.  Targeted sections of the grain can be redistributed using the underground reclaim conveyor throughout the building.  In a grain bin, it may be more difficult to pinpoint specific areas to aerate.  As a result, aeration may lead to more shrinkage since the entire grain mass must be aerated.



Managing grain quality and controlling spoilage are crucial aspects of grain storage. The Macon Building’s thick concrete walls and strategic aeration systems facilitate better moisture control and condensation management compared to grain bins, which have a thin sheet of steel separating the grain from the outside environment, causing rapid, continual temperature changes along with outside ambient temperatures.



Grain is largely not visible in grain bins, making it challenging to manage grain conditions over the expanse of the bin.  Macon’s catwalk system provides ease to see, smell, and control spoilage issues over a large grain surface area of the building.



Structural Integrity

Steel and Corrosion

Grain bin walls corrode and weaken over time due to condensation caused by rapid and continual temperature fluctuations. This has led to rapid, catastrophic bin failure in many instances. In contrast, Macon Buildings, with their insulating and protective concrete backbone, mitigate corrosion risks and ensure structural integrity with the grain never contacting any structural steel.


Loading and Unloading

Loading and unloading processes in grain bins can cause structural stress and potential failure, especially with off-center loading. In contrast, the Macon Building’s 16”-24” thick concrete walls are engineered to withstand repeated loading, ensuring long-term structural durability.


Differential Soil Settling

Differential soil settlement can seriously compromise grain bin integrity, in some cases leading to failure or rebuild. To mitigate this, oftentimes the geotechnical engineer recommends installing costly aggregate piers or fill replacement. Conversely, the Macon Building distributes the grain load over a large footprint, which minimizes the effects of differential settlement to maintain structural stability with little to no added cost, even in the poorest soils.


Inside Lighting

Managing grain quality and equipment

The tension fabric cover used in a Macon Building allows for natural lighting.  With a natural lit environment, workers are more easily able to see, smell, and control grain quality issues than a grain bin, which are dark environments.  Workers can examine and perform maintenance to the equipment in the flat storage building.



Safety is enhanced in the Macon building because the natural light allows easy mobility.  Any additional lighting for the nighttime in the Macon Building is right along the catwalk, making lighting changes easy and safe.


Versatility of Use

Ability to multi-purpose

The Macon Building is expert in storing a multitude of bulk commodities such as corn, soybeans, wheat, rice, DDGs, and fertilizer. However, its multifunctional capabilities include equipment storage for an elevator’s variety of field equipment. In addition, the Macon Building provides the flexible option to store various commodities at the same time, unlike grain bins that can store only one commodity at a time.



Risk of Entrapment

In a grain bin, a crust bridge may form above a hollow cavity when the grain is unloaded.  Workers may then improperly enter the bin to dislodge this grain and become caught or buried.   The Macon building can be loaded and unloaded without entry on top of the grain, which all but eliminates the entrapment possibility. Moisture levels are more easily managed to optimum levels due to the concrete backbone, targeted aeration methods, and catwalk for monitoring, which allows proper grain flow while reclaiming the grain.

Macon Buildings are entered at exterior ground level up to the catwalk inside the building to safely inspect the grain. In the event grain needs to be repositioned, the underground conveyor can remove only the concerning grain, which can then be repositioned into another area of the building via the fill conveyor. If there is no underground tunnel, a worker uses a payloader to pick up grain, where the worker stays protected.



For grain elevators requiring 1+ million bushels or storage, purchasing a Macon Building is a judicious economical decision.  The cost is typically approximately half the cost of a grain bin.  The more bushels that are needed, the greater the price difference, due in part to Macon’s patented Macon Maximizer.   This grain wall extension allows up to 30% more grain to be stored in the same footprint.  By choosing the appropriate storage solution based on specific needs, grain facilities can effectively manage storage requirements while optimizing costs.



Key distinctions exist between grain bins and Macon Buildings as grain storage options. While grain bins have their place in certain locations and contexts, value-conscious leaders in the commercial grain industry increasingly choose the features and benefits of Macon Buildings. Using the information presented, stakeholders can make informed decisions regarding their grain storage infrastructure investments.