Conveying Cereal: Choose the Right Conveyor

Challenges When Conveying Cereal:

One of the biggest challenges faced when conveying cereal is the degradation of the final product. No matter the core ingredient cereal is often shaped into puffs or loops so ensuring they arrive undamaged into the packaging is of top concern. 

Conveying Cereal

Another challenge which must be overcome when choosing a conveyor system for cereal is cleanability. The conveyor system must be easy and quick to clean due to many productions changing batches in one production line. During production all time is valuable and any time spent disassembling and cleaning a conveyor is wasted time.

Finally, contamination can be another major challenge that must be overcome. Traditional bucket elevators and belt conveyors are not enclosed systems and dust or any other material could find its way into the cereal causing serious contamination issues. With the rising awareness of allergens, contained systems are becoming more and more important within the food industry.

Choose the Right Conveyor:

Flexible Screw Conveyors: They can convey in any direction from horizontal to vertical, routed around fixed obstacles and equipment, and from one room to another. They are ideal for lifting materials from bag dump stations or storage bins and conveying products at ceiling height to feed a line of processing or packaging machines – as multiple discharge points can be placed along horizontal sections. It is very quick and easy to clean because of the quick release flanges and drop out tray. The downside to the flexible screw conveyor is the turning metal screw can cause damage to the product so it is inadvisable for friable materials.

Pneumatic Conveyors: When moving powder and granules there is a great need for a solution that is hygienic, safe and prevents product damage. Spiroflow offers a complete range of vacuum conveyors to meet these requirements and at the same time provide high capacity with a small machine footprint. Our vacuum conveyors use air pressure levels to move the material and can handle granules up to 50 mm. The benefit to pneumatic conveyors is that they are very gentle on the materials with minimal dusting but it is the most expensive way to convey cereal.

Cereal Conveyor

Aeromechanical Conveyors: Our Aeroflow aeromechanical conveyor has a tubular design where a cable assembly, with evenly spaced polyurethane discs, move at high speed.  The cable assembly runs in specially designed sprockets at each corner and each end of the conveyor.  The action of the cable assembly traveling at high speed creates an air stream running at the same velocity.  As the material is fed into the airstream, it is fluidized and conveyed to the outlet where it is centrifugally ejected. This conveyor is a great choice as it can move large volumes of cereal very quickly.

Tubular Drag Cable or Chain Conveyor: Cableflow Tubular Cable Drag Conveyors are a further development of our best in class Aeroflow aeromechanical conveyors operating with reduced clearances and at reduced running speeds. Cableflow conveyors are designed for gentle material handling and for conveying in multiple planes. They can provide complete material batch transfer of bulk products from single or multiple in-feed points to single or multiple discharge points with little or no damage.

Conveyor Comparison Chart

View our full Conveyor Comparison Chart to view speed and capacity, cleanability, dust control, and price.

Get in Touch

If you’re looking to convey sugar or potentially update your current conveying system then get in touch with us today. You can contact us by filling in our Contact Us form here.

Aero mechanical Conveyors – Caring For Your Rope and Discs

In this blog, we will discuss maintaining an Aero mechanical conveyor rope and discs and how to care for them. The rope and disc is the essential part of the aero mechanical conveyor as it moves at high speed to create an air flow which fluidises product.

While we aim to provide advice for troubleshooting common problems it is not a substitute for expert technical advice which you can get from our service and support team.

Rope Tension

One of the first things to look at when you are servicing your aero mechanical conveyor is the rope tension. You should always check the tension when the conveyor is empty of product and make adjustments accordingly via the access to the feed housing. It is advisable not to adjust the tension from the discharge housing due to the weight of the rope assembly on longer conveyors which could appear to be tensioned correctly but in fact, are not placed in inlet sprocket. Checking this tension regularly is a key step in preventative maintenance as often it will not need to be adjusted. Remember that the longer the aero mechanical conveyor, the longer the rope and used on heavy product this will cause more significant stretching in the rope so we advise you to check these more regularly for signs of wear.

Under Tension

A slack rope will continue to loosen as the conveyor runs until eventually the discs will drag along the underside of the feed housing and will wear the rope and discs. An easy way to spot a loose rope is to pay attention to the sound of the conveyor. A slack rope will start to flap around in the tube which will get noisier as you run the conveyor.

Over Tension

Just like an overly slack rope can cause excess wear in a  rope so can over tension. The most common cause of an over tensioned rope is staff errors so training is essential to keeping the rope correctly tensioned. The most obvious sign of an over tensioned rope is that you cannot move the discs by hand in the notch.

DART – Dynamic Automatic Rope Tensioner

The DART Automatic Rope Tensioner offers the ultimate in reduced maintenance and peace of mind for users of Aero Mechanical Conveyors. Investing in an automatic rope tensioner will help extend the life of your aero mechanical rope with minimal manual input.

1. Basic Model
Clean dry air, from 0.35 to 4 bar/ 5 to 60psi, is used to maintain a constant force in the conveying rope and disc assembly via a regulator. The pneumatic circuit maintains the force in the event of interruption to the air supply. Alternatively, an optional pressure switch provides a signal which can shut down the conveyor until the air supply is restored.2. Air Purged Seals
This option is essential where there is a likelihood of product becoming trapped in the sliding seals and thus compromising the effectiveness of the tensioning apparatus.

3. Basic Control Panel
This model has the benefit of sensors on the pneumatic cylinder that tensions the rope. These sensors warn that the inspection of the rope is required and warn when maximum rope stretch has been reached and that a replacement is essential. This panel can be offered complete with a Motor Starter for the conveyor.

4. Control Panel & Tension Feedback System
This model uses a load cell system that actually checks the tension is at the correct force. This is determined by the diameter and length of the conveyor. It maintains it at a level by constantly adjusting air supply to accommodate changing conditions. This is especially desirable where the product or the ambient air is subjected to significant changes in temperature.

Help & Advice

If you are struggling with the tension in your aero mechanical conveyor and need some advice get in touch with our Service & Support team. We have over 45 years experience in the solids and bulk handling industry and there is no problem we can’t solve!

Service & Support Team 

Selecting the best mechanical conveyor for your application is crucial to your processing success and your bottom line. Here at Spiroflow, we have a comprehensive range of conveyors that processors can choose from. Our primary objective is to provide you with the safest, most efficient, and most reliable conveying solution for your application.

We work with our customers to make sure they get the exact conveyor for their needs. We’ve been doing it for decades and we’ll do it for you.

This article will break down what you should keep in mind when working with a conveyor manufacturer. You’ll also find a handy chart that provides a very high-level indication of conveyor performance for a variety of metrics.

Mechanical Conveyor Selection

Product Attributes

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?

Needed Function 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?

Operating Features

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?

Service Life

What is the projected duty 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.

The Manufacturer

When you’re selecting a conveyor, we recommend that you work with a supplier who offers several conveyor types.  Such a supplier has the experience to satisfy your conveying performance needs and to ensure that the conveyor you select will withstand your process’s duty level throughout the life of the process.  This supplier can offer advice based on which unit can successfully handle your material and also 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 you 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.

Performance Guarantee

Finally, make sure that your supplier provides assurances that the conveyor will successfully transfer your material and perform reliably and cost-effectively for the long run.  Spiroflow, of course, guarantees all equipment solutions that have been tested in our test lab.

Mechanical Conveyor Comparison Chart

The mechanical conveyor comparison chart below 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. They’re 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 fluidizes 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 utilize 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 because of a lower operating speed than flex screw or aero mechanical conveyors.

Operating speed is determined by the setup of the circuit and distance traveled.

Still Have Questions?

We appreciate that you’ve found and read this article. It’s understandable if you still have questions. If you do, let us know! We have been in the bulk material handling industry for more than 45 years. We’ll work with you to find the right conveyor for your process.

For more than 45 years, Spiroflow has been building flexible screw conveyors for processors around the world. In fact, the flexible screw conveyor is the product that launched the company! These conveyors are dust free, easy to clean, hygienic, gentle, and maintain mixtures.

One of the most common questions we get is, “how much does a flexible screw conveyor cost?” When comparing mechanical conveyors, a flexible screw conveyor is the most economical option out there. Determining the cost depends on several application-specific factors. This article will lay out all of the variables that can affect the final cost.

What conveying capacity do you require?

Flexible screw conveyors are offered in different diameters depending on the capacity you require. As a general rule, our largest screw conveyor can achieve capacities of up to 29 ft3/min (0.82m3/min). An experienced supplier can recommend the right sized conveyor for our needs.

What is your required conveying distance?

Flexible screw conveyors can be up to 40 ft long (12m) and multiple conveyors can be ‘daisy chained’ to achieve longer distances.

What type of spiral will most effectively convey your material?

No matter whether you call it a spiral or a screw, the type you need depends on the material you need to convey.

Round Spirals

The standard round spiral works for most applications. This style of screw forces solids outward, which reduces friction and lowers load.

Flat Spirals

Flat spirals are recommended for light, aerated, or very fine products. The flat spiral directs more force in the direction of flow and increases capacity slightly.

Beveled Spirals

Beveled spirals work well with difficult materials like iron oxide, chocolate, pigments, or any smearing or cohesive products. This setup is semi-rigid and bends are not recommended, but up to 45˚ conveying angles are possible.

Heavy-duty & Double Spirals

Heavy-duty spirals are also available for certain high density or aggressive materials. We sometimes recommend a double spiral for high-density products.

Polished Spirals

Polished spirals are always available for hygienic food applications.

Center Cores

Sometimes a spiral may not be enough. You might need a center core. This is a solid plastic rod that sits inside the spiral. It keeps material from falling back through the middle when working with light material and material that fluidizes easily. It’s also an option for conveyors that end up inclined more than 60˚.

 What type of conveying tube is best?

Your material and application requirements will determine the best materials of construction for the tube. There are plenty of choices.

Food Grade Ultra High Molecular Weight Polyethylene (UHMWPE) tubes work for the majority of applications.

Tubes made from antistatic polymers are an option for volatile environments.

Are you working with minerals or abrasive materials? If so, tubes made from abrasion resistant rubber are for you.

Tubes can also be made from carbon steel or 304/316 stainless steel. Steel tubes are needed for products that are abrasive and have high temperatures.

What are your layout requirements?

There are a vast number of possible layouts and site constraints within your plant must be accounted for.Here are some common ways processors use flex screw conveyors:

  • Are you conveying from a hopper to a process?
  • Do you need a horizontal outlet for restricted headroom?
  • Are you feeding or dosing from bulk bags?
  • Do you require more than one inlet or outlet?
  • Are you filling a silo or bulk bags?
  • Do you require a mobile conveyor?

And, by the way, did you know that these conveyors are easily installed through interior AND exterior plant walls?

What components will you need?

An electric motor for your screw conveyor can be designed to deliver as much voltage as you need. An experienced supplier can determine proper motor for you. Depending on your specifications, spiral speed can be fixed or variable.

Level probes are an option as well. They identify high and low solid levels in the hopper feeding the screw or the hopper the screw is delivering material to.

Optional interlocked, quick release connectors enhance rapid dismantling and reassembly for cleaning.

 Other Options Worth Considering

  • Access panels
  • Integral bag dump/sack dump stations
  • Feed hopper agitators
  • Mobile base
  • Control panel or purged control panel
  • Drive motor wash down
  • Sanitary seal standoff
  • Quick-release tube connections
  • USDA/3A Design
  • Right angle gear reducer
  • Flexible discharge hose
  • Static grounding
  • Explosion proof motor
  • NEMA 4 or 7/ATEX compliance

What are the maintenance costs?

We consider flexible screw conveyors to be low maintenance because they only have one moving part, the inner spiral. When installed correctly these conveyors are reliable and hassle-free. We recommend spirals that are heat treated and tempered for maximum working life. We also recommend that processors keep a spare spiral on hand. If by chance, your material changes or you incur any unexpected issue (see our article on Problems with Flexible Screw Conveyors), keeping a spare spiral on hand will minimize downtime.

How much will it cost?

Flexible screw conveyors are popular due to their relatively low cost but, as you can see, there are many variables that determine the price. You can expect the cost of a good quality flexible screw conveyor from a respected supplier to range from $4,000 (£1,800) at the low end and up to $20,000 (£18,000) at the high end.