Grain entrapment can happen in as little as 4-5 seconds

Grain bin dangers: From the time the auger starts, you have…2-3 seconds to react; 4-5 seconds until you’re trapped; 22 seconds until you’re completely covered.


It happens quickly. From the time the auger starts, you have…

  • 2-3 seconds to react
  • 4-5 seconds until you’re trapped
  • 22 seconds until you’re completely covered


  • Grain Entrapment: A person is partially submerged but cannot remove themselves
  • Grain Engulfment: A person is completely buried with grain

3 common ways that engulfment occurs:

  1. When you stand on moving or flowing grain it can act like quick sand, burying you in seconds.
  2. When you stand on a bridging grain condition, it can collapse  unexpectedly, burying you under the grain. Bridging occurs when grain clumps together, because of moisture or mold, creating an empty space beneath as grain is unloaded.
  3. Grain that as accumulated on the side of a bin can unexpectedly collapse.

Suffocation is a leading cause of death in grain storage bins.

Grain Entrapment cases by year


“If the demonstrations end up saving even one life, the thing is priceless.”

Students at Penn State build grain entrapment simulator

Photo by Penn State College of Engineering

Sudenga Industries is honored to be one of the equipment sponsors for a Penn State Grain Entrapment Simulator. The simulator was a senior design project for five Agricultural Engineering students at Pennsylvania State University. It was built in order to show the dangers of being in grain and to show the proper way to rescue someone who has been entrapped in the grain.

“The goal was to create a grain entrapment simulator that the Penn State Ag Safety Department can use for demonstrations to fire companies and farmers,” explained Ean Julius, a senior at Penn State and team leader of the project.

The apparatus consists of a hopper bin that is positioned on a trailer with a Sudenga vertical bin unload that is able to fill the bin from the truck as well as remove the grain from the bin back into the truck. As the grain is being removed it creates the situation that can lead to a person coming entrapped or engulfed in the grain. Once the person is trapped they are able to give training on the proper techniques to rescue that individual.

The hope is that this grain entrapment simulator can be used to help educate farmers as well as fire and rescue teams all around the northeast. We are truly grateful to be involved in this project. It is easy to think that something like this will never happen to you, but it is always better to be prepared.

Julius said it best when he said —  “If the demonstrations end up saving even one life, the thing is priceless.”

View more photos and read a story by Penn State News on the project here.

Credit goes to Sudenga territory rep Clair Vollmer helping to get us involved in this project. The dangers of grain bins are something he knows about first hand.

“I was particularly intrigued with this project because I have been involved with farming all my life and know the dangers. I was a volunteer fireman for 22 years and was on the department years ago when we were called out to a family friends farm where the dad had been entrapped in a grain bin and died.”