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Aero Mechanical Conveyor From Spiroflow Assures a Dependable and Consistent Flow of Acrylic Powder to Improve Quality

Flexible screw conveyors feeding the aero mechanical conveyors

A Spiroflow aero mechanical conveyor, provided by Spiroflow Systems Inc., a partner company, plays a key role in ensuring a smooth and lump-free transfer of fine acrylic powder into a substantial cylindrical mixer. This process is crucial in the manufacture of Fluorex™ thermoplastic paint at Soliant LLC, located in Lancaster, South Carolina, USA.

Introduction to Fluorex™ and Soliant

Fluorex™ offers a superior option compared to conventional paint and plating methods, standing out for its enhanced durability, affordability, and eco-friendliness. Soliant’s range of thermoplastic decorative films and coatings, available in a spectrum of more than 140 colors, finds application across diverse sectors such as automotive, marine, architecture, signage, home appliances, electronics, telecommunications, and more. Specifically in the automotive realm, Soliant’s film is applied to 20 distinct models of cars and trucks.

Challenges Before the Spiroflow System

Prior to acquiring the Spiroflow conveyor technologies in the early 2000s, Soliant’s workforce engaged in physically moving 125 kg drums loaded with acrylic resin powder to a weighing scale for incorporation into the mix. After determining the weight, employees would manually transfer approximately 700 grams of the powder from these drums into the mixing vessel, initiating the Fluorex™ production process. The scale’s role was critical in ensuring the precise quantity of powder needed for each specific paint mix was added. Within the vessel, this powder was then blended to achieve a consistency similar to mayonnaise.

Additionally, before this transfer, it was necessary for the staff to manually examine each drum’s contents, breaking apart any clumps or adhesive powder. This manual approach resulted in varying speeds and consistencies across different applications.

Need for Improved Quality Control

On average, each procedure took about 25 minutes per worker, amounting to nearly an hour of labor for each task. Mark Beard, a Staff Product Development Engineer at Soliant, pointed out, “The manual process was laborious and lacked the necessary quality control.” He added, “A reliable, automated system was essential to guarantee consistent quality across batches and to ensure uniformity in speed and flow of materials.”

Aero mechanical conveyor inside a factory

Discovery and Selection of Spiroflow

After conducting his research, Beard proposed the use of the portable Spiroflow aero mechanical conveyor, a decision influenced by an advertisement he came across in a trade publication. Beard remarked, “Initially, we were unaware of Spiroflow’s expertise despite their proximity to us.” He further added, “Our visit to their plant was eye-opening. Seeing their knowledge and skill firsthand, especially after they demonstrated their equipment using our specific powder, assured us of their suitability for our needs.”

Spiroflow System Description

Tailored specifically for Soliant’s requirements, our team crafted a stainless steel Conveyor and Distribution system. This system features a 2.25-meter-long inclined aero mechanical conveyor in a straight line, complete with a sack tip hopper at its starting point. Each part of these Spiroflow industrial conveyor systems is mounted on a movable frame, equipped with two stationary and two rotating casters. These casters facilitate effortless maneuverability and are equipped with locking brakes to ensure optimal safety.

Bulk bag unloader, flexible screw conveyor, and aero mechanical conveyor

Integration into Soliant’s Process

When it’s time to integrate materials into the mixer, the mobile conveyor is accurately placed on a 1.25-meter square weighing platform, which is recessed into the ground to align with the level of the factory floor. Upon positioning the conveyor on this platform, its weight is zeroed out, allowing for the accurate loading of the required amount of acrylic powder into the conveyor’s feed hopper. The powder is then poured into the hopper, passing through a plastic strip curtain located at the front of the overhead dust hood.

This dust hood is connected to a dust extraction system, ensuring a clean, environmentally friendly, and dust-free operation. A grid placed atop the hopper helps break down any clumps of material, addressing a primary issue encountered with the earlier method. The flow of material from the hopper to the conveyor is regulated by a rotary valve. Additionally, six air-driven vibration pads are thoughtfully arranged around the hopper, promoting a steady and uninterrupted flow of powder into the rotary valve at the hopper’s exit, thereby preventing any blockages.

Technical Aspects of the Conveyor System

The conveyor belt solutions have tubes with a diameter of 80 mm and are set at a 45-degree angle for operation. An air motor, a standard in hazardous environments, powers both the conveyor and the rotary valve. For maintenance purposes, an interlocking access panel is installed for easy cleaning of the conveyor’s internal components, and a transparent panel in one of the tubes allows operators to assess when cleaning is necessary.

These conveyor belt systems consist of several polyurethane discs, evenly spaced and attached to a wire rope, moving within parallel steel tubes in a continuous, high-speed loop. At each end, the rope loops around custom-designed sprockets. One sprocket drives the rope and discs, while the other maintains the rope’s tension. By maintaining a constant high speed of the rope and disc assembly, the conveyor belts generate an airflow that fluidizes and conveys the product efficiently to the mixing vessel, where the powder is then centrifugally discharged. This method of conveyance is energy-efficient, reduces production wear and tear, and allows for variable production rates, from high to low.

Impact and Benefits

Beard states that the issue of clumpy, adhesive powder has been effectively resolved, resulting in a virtually stress-free operation. He expressed his satisfaction, saying, “This equipment is a reliable, high-quality asset for us.” He further remarked, “The transfer into the vessel is uniform, and the system’s reliability is remarkable. What previously took over an hour of manual labor now is completed in less than 20 minutes, thanks to full automation, and it demands minimal to no oversight.”

Maintenance and Support for the Aero Mechanical Conveyor

Beard mentioned that the system requires almost no maintenance. He noted that in the five-plus years since its installation, the only regular upkeep has involved adjusting the rope tension and performing cleaning tasks. He also praised the Spiroflow after-sales team for their exceptional support.If you’re seeking a dependable and low-maintenance conveyor belt system, consider Spiroflow for your needs. Our expert team is ready to provide top-notch solutions and ongoing support. Contact Spiroflow today to enhance your operations with our innovative conveyor solutions.