Selecting A Mechanical Conveyor
Selecting a mechanical conveyor for material handling solutions will depend on the specific requirements of the end user. Points to consider are: safety, energy consumption, prevention of contamination, dust containment and minimal degrading of the product. The budget and return on investment will determine the level of sophistication and the suitability of a particular conveyor to meet the application.
During the conveyor selection process a specification must be prepared to define the constraints the conveyor must achieve whatever the industry. This should include characteristics of the ingredients being handled, conveying capacity, material of construction, dimensional constraints (layout) and any hazards posed by the product or environment.
Specialist suppliers offering conveying equipment for material handling can supply several conveyor types and options suitable for the conveying of a variety of materials. It is advisable to test raw materials in the type of conveyor selected to verify conveying rate and suitability of the equipment for the purpose.
Look for a material handling supplier that has experience with the products you want to handle and has the technical expertise to apply their equipment to the specific requirements of the application. This normally requires an engineered solution, with layout drawings and any necessary custom designed parts to adapt the system to suit the application and location. Experienced suppliers are able to adapt their equipment for different situations and offer a range of modular components to provide a solution.
Consider a vendor who can supply equipment for moving products between processes with a range of conveyors and filling and discharge systems with high levels of containment. Consider a supplier that handles: silo/hopper unloading (bulk storage to process), process links (conveying between processes or from a process to a packaging machine), container filling (bulk bag, box or tote filling, 50 lb bags or drums), ingredient mixing, batch weighing and continuous weighing.
There are several types of mechanical conveyors to choose from and you should consider the value of each.
Flexible Screw Conveyors (FSCs) provide dust free, low energy, low maintenance and low cost conveying solutions. FSCs provide gentle handling and constant remixing of the conveyor contents. The constant mixing is an interesting advantage of this type of conveyor where a centerless auger rotates within a sealed tube and the speed and helical action of the screw encourages the product in the conveyor to rotate with the screw. This creates a constant tumbling effect that provides a homogeneous mix of particles in the conveyor and is essential when feeding pre-mixed ingredients to packaging or process machines. Selection of conveyor size, type of screw and speed are determined during testing.
Aero Mechanical Conveyors (AMCs) provide high conveying capacities and a total batch transfer. The totally enclosed tubular system provides a path for the driven rope and disc assembly to move around the circuit and the result is a gentle conveying action and a reliable means of transporting material between processes.
Tubular Drag Conveyors are made of a series of straight and curved tubes to provide a totally enclosed tubular system that provides gentle conveying action. These are more sophisticated than an Flexible Screw or Aero Mechanical Conveyor and allows for complex circuits with multiple inlet points and multiple discharge points. It does not use air as a conveying medium and relies on the equally pitched discs along the cable to form equal pockets within the conveying circuit. When the rope and disc assembly are in motion (driven by a sprocket) the material fed through an inlet port is contained within the travelling pockets and gently dragged around the circuit until it reaches a discharge outlet in the circuit. This conveyor provides total batch transfer but sacrifices conveying rate due to a lower operating speed than an AMC. The operating speed is determined by the complexity of the circuit and distance traveled.
Container Filling addresses the need to transfer material to an offsite location after processing. There are several low cost containers suitable for this including bulk bags, cardboard totes, drums or sacks. This can be achieved with a custom filling system. These are available with various levels of complexity to suit every budget. Generally the larger the budget the more automated the process and the greater efficiencies achieved.
For example, filling machines are designed with programmable controllers designed to increase filling accuracy and cycle speed.
Automatic gain in weight adjustment monitors and compensates for any weight variation within +/- 1%. This level of sophistication on fillers is ideal for companies seeking NTEP approval. There are also many custom features available to suit different containers and applications.