Silos in the form of cylindrical metal shells are usually supported on evenly spaced columns in applications where an access space is needed for the discharge of contained solids. In large silos a ring beam is used to distribute the column forces into the shell. The presence of discrete supports results in a circumferential non-uniformity of axial stresses in the shell. This non-uniformity leads to high local stresses that must be considered in assessing the possibility of shell buckling. Design standards provide recommendations for the buckling of shells under uniform axial compression, but are largely silent concerning stress peaks that may vary in width. Designers must resort either to onerous finite element analyses that include both geometric and material nonlinearities with imperfections (GMNIA) or trust to their own judgment. This paper presents a parametric study to develop resistance or capacity curves which can be used directly in design without the need for complicated analysis. The proposed design method uses only hand calculations apart from a simple linear finite element analysis to determine the degree of non-uniformity in the axial stresses. (C) 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.