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What are the Best Materials for Drag Chain Conveyors?

Posted on 25th December 2016 by

Best Materials for Drag Chain Conveyor

What are the best materials for drag chain conveyors? Running the proper materials decreases down time and increases productivity, because the conveyor is operating at its full potential. We’ll talk more about that in this blog.

There are two types of drag chain conveyors out there – structural and non-structural. At Spiroflow we manufacture both. In order to keep things simple, we will only talk about heavy-duty non-structural drag chain conveyors such as our Chainflow conveyor. We talk about ultra-heavy duty structural drag conveyors in this post.

What Is A Tubular Drag Chain Conveyor?

A drag chain conveyor is a heavy-duty conveyor because it is designed to run 24/7/365. Tubes and discs are made of stainless steel with UHMWPE discs. Multiple inlets and outlets are possible for this machine. An automatic chain tensioner is always included. Other basic components of a drag chain conveyor include a 90˚ idler housing, chain vibrator, pneumatic inlet baffle, static grounding, sight glass, and controls.


Like most mechanical conveyors there are a variety of design features to choose from. A reputable manufacturer can make recommendations based on your application requirements and budget.

  • Sanitary finish
  • Inlet support base
  • Corner sprockets (90˚ Idler Housing)
  • Hinged access covers
  • Hinged inlet chute access covers
  • Inlet vibration – electric or pneumatic
  • Tube mounted inlets & outlets
  • Tube valve with chute (a pneumatically actuated inline discharge valve)
  • Extended capacity chute (dust hood, splash guard, lid)
  • Manual or pneumatic inlet baffle
  • Rotation sensor
  • Air purge
  • Chain vibrator
  • Level probes – NEMA 4 or 7
  • Mobile base (layout/length restrictions)
  • Controls (with or without VFD)
  • Sight glass
  • Static grounding
  • 90˚ & custom angle sweeps
  • Explosion & hygienic options (application dependent)

Material Matters

What you’re planning on conveying inside a drag chain conveyor is a prime factor in determining the suitability of this (or any) conveying method. We always recommend a test of your exact material in the conveyor.   That’s the best way to ensure the conveyor will perform to your expectations. Be advised that sometimes even a subtle change to the material can change how your conveyor operates.

What Should Go In

Drag chain conveyors are ideal for conveying dry, cold, hot (up to 180°F/82°C), powders, and granules. They are particularly suited for conveying fragile materials such as cereals, nuts, coffee beans, food ingredients, pet food, animal feed, a wide variety of chemicals and plastics.

Food Industry Materials: Non-cohesive dry powders & granules, Coffee, Pet Food, Nuts, Cereal, Hops, Grains, Recycled products, Barley, Cocoa, Beans, Coffee (ground & whole bean), Grains/Seeds, Hops, Oats (rolled), Pepper, Sodium Bicarbonate, Soybeans, Tea & Wheat

Other Food Industry Materials are application & layout dependent: Artificial sweetener, cashews, cereal, cheese powder, cookie crumbs, crackers, fish food, flour (reg/wheat), frozen vegetables, fruit (dried), hard candy, jelly beans, malt/meal/nuts, oil seeds, peanuts, pet food/animal feed, powdered vitamins, rice (dry & puffed), snack foods, soup mix, spices, sugar beet pellets, and more.

Plastic & Rubber Industry Materials: Latex, PET, plastics, recycled plastics, and more.

 Timber Industry Materials: Sawdust, wood chips, wood pellets, and more.

Recycling & Environmental Industry Materials: Recycled plastics and other re-processed materials subject to product testing.

Other Materials: Bottle caps, buttons, detergent, granules, litter, pellets, polyurethane foam, sintered dust, soluble corn fiber, talcum powder, tobacco, urea, wax flakes, and more.

What Should Stay Out

Sludges, slurries, moist, cohesive materials are not recommended in this type of conveyor. These materials are better conveyed in a structural ultra heavy-duty conveyor like our Dynaflow drag chain conveyor:

Metals, Mineral & Mining Industry Materials: Bentonite clay, brown coal, clay, coal, coke, dried Coal, graphite, limestone, etc.

Power Industry Materials: Bio-mass (torrefied), activated coal ash, ash, and other similar materials.

Drag Chain Cleanability

These conveyors have crevice free chain and disc assemblies. This stops material from getting stuck inside, as a result, makes the conveyor easier to clean.

Non-sanitary Applications

  • This conveyor can be cleaned by dry scouring (running an abrasive product) or air purging.
  • Scavenged dust is directed out through the discharge outlet(s).
  • The conveyor can also be wet washed (clean-in-place).
  • The chain and disc assembly can be removed for cleaning/drying remotely.

Sanitary Applications

  • Food products are common applications requiring a very low microbial count.
  • The chain can be removed for cleaning/drying remotely.

Other Conveying Options

When a non-structural drag chain conveyor isn’t the right choice to convey your material, there are other options. Based on your application requirements those alternative solutions might include ultra-heavy duty structural drag chain conveyors, tubular cable drag conveyors, aero mechanical conveyors, or flexible screw conveyors.

Test, Test, Test!

If you are considering a tubular drag chain conveyor, or really any conveyor, we always recommend material testing in one of our test labs. There are quite literally hundreds of materials that can successfully be conveyed in a tubular drag chain conveyor. Some suppliers will furnish a list of ‘can do’ materials but we always prefer to err on the side of caution. That is why we reference many materials as ‘application dependent.’ This ensures that you receive a conveying solution that meets all of your requirements. It also prevents problems down the road.

Want More Information?

Thanks for visiting our blog and reading this article. Give us a call if you have any questions! We have been in the bulk material handling industry for more than 45 years. We’ll do everything we can to help you determine the right bulk material handling solution for your process.

We don’t just make drag chain conveyors so feel free to check out our complete product line. We also offer complete control systems integration services. If you’re interested in that, click here for more information.

(1) 704-246-0900 | | +44 (0) 1200 422525

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Dave Hesketh

Director of Engineering & Product Development
Dave has been with Spiroflow for more than 25 years. He’s a Chartered Engineer, member of the Institute of Engineering Designers, and a member of American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Dave is a regular contributor to a variety of industry trade publications.