By Chris Brennan, Senior Application Engineer, Spiroflow Ltd.
Selecting the best mechanical conveyor for an application is crucial to processing success and for business profits. Spiroflow has a comprehensive range of conveyors that processers can choose from and our main objective is to provide our customers with the safest, most efficient, and most reliable conveying solution for their application.
We have worked with our customers for many years to make sure they get the exact conveyor for their needs and this is a service that we promise to continue.
This article breaks down what processors should keep in mind when working with a conveyor manufacturer, along with a useful reference chart that provides a very high-level indication of conveyor performance for a variety of metrics.
Mechanical Conveyor Selection
The type of product you plan on conveying is one of the biggest determining factors when considering which conveyor to choose. How would you describe your material’s characteristics? Engineers will need to know the bulk density, particle size, moisture content, temperature, and abrasiveness of your product. Is it hygroscopic or likely to segregate? Is the product cohesive? Are there other properties that affect how it can be conveyed?
Functional Requirements and Performance
What are your desired conveying rates and capacities? What are your layout requirements and constraints? What materials of construction do you require? Will your conveyor require multiple inlets or outlets? Must it elevate material or move it through multiple planes? Do you need the conveyor to provide a variable conveying rate? How will you feed your material into the conveyor? Will it need to provide gentle handling? Does the conveyor need to be enclosed to contain dust or prevent material contamination? Do you require a dust collection system? Do you need a weight measurement for the delivered ingredients?
Can the conveyor handle your required conveying distance? Can it handle your current and future conveying volumes? Does the conveyor have high installation costs or high operating costs? Can it be installed in your existing operation? Will it operate in a sanitary environment? Do you require an integral bag/sack dump hopper? Do you require a mobile conveyor? Does the environment require explosion proof equipment?
What is the projected work life of the operation this conveyor will serve? Some conveyors are light-duty units suitable for intermittent or short-term operation, while others are heavy-duty machines designed for continuous long-term operation. Consider what service life your conveyor must provide to ensure that it can handle your application.
Long Term Energy Requirements
Consider how the conveyor’s energy use will affect its operating costs over the long term.
When selecting a conveyor, we recommend that you work with a supplier who offers several conveyor types. This is because they will have a broad range of experience to satisfy your conveying performance needs and to ensure that the conveyor selected will withstand your process’s service level throughout the life of the process. The supplier should also offer advice based on which unit can successfully handle your material as well as provide the best combination of low purchase price, low operating cost, and high efficiency.
Testing the Material
Ideally, the supplier will also have a test lab with conveyors of various types to help determine which one can best handle your material and operating conditions. Ask the supplier for references to check whether previous customers with applications like yours are satisfied with the conveyors they have purchased.
Make sure that your supplier guarantees that the conveyor will successfully transfer your material and perform reliably and cost-effectively for the long run. At Spiroflow we ensure all equipment solutions have been tested in our laboratories.
The mechanical conveyor comparison chart shows how flexible screw conveyors, tubular drag conveyors, aero mechanical conveyors and pneumatic conveyors compare on all the criteria listed above.
Flexible Screw Conveyors
These go by many names and are often referred to as auger screws, screw augers, flexible augers, screw conveyors, flex conveyors, helix or helical conveyors, flexible spiral conveyors, or spiral screw conveyors. They are dust-free, low energy, low maintenance, and economical. They provide gentle handling and constant remixing. They are also easy to install.
Aero Mechanical Conveyors
Aero mechanical conveyors offer high conveying capacities and total batch transfer. The cable and disc assembly is driven through a totally enclosed tubular system that fluidises material at high speeds through a circuit. Aero mechanical conveyors provide a reliable means of transporting material between processes with low energy consumption.
Tubular Drag Conveyors
Tubular drag conveyors utilise a cable and disc assembly or a chain and disc assembly. These conveyors are made of a series of straight and curved tubes or structural pipe to provide a totally enclosed system that gently pulls material between the discs through the conveying path. Drag conveyors allow for complex circuits with multiple inlets and outlets. They provide total batch transfers but sacrifice conveying rate due to the lower operating speed than flex screw or aero mechanical conveyors. Operating speed is determined by the setup of the circuit and distance travelled.
Spiroflow has been in the bulk material handling industry for more than four decades. If you encounter a problem, we most probably have a solution. Please contact us for further information on what we do, or visit our website at www.spiroflow.com to see our full line of products and services, including control systems integration.