Why we recommend having a replacement parts strategy

Replacement Chains

Why we recommend having a replacement parts strategy:

Do you have a replacement parts strategy in place? At Spiroflow we understand that any machine downtime is costly and can affect the bottom line which is why we believe having a plan in place for replacement parts is essential.

We cannot eliminate unplanned downtime completely but by following our simple step by step guide we can help you to reduce the risk which will ultimately save you time and money.

Step 1:

Have a Recommended Spares List

Having a list to hand of your recommended spares from your equipment supplier will show which replacement parts are essential for your machine and their lead times. Any part which has high usage can be a big downtime risk, especially if it is a critical operating part. Keeping a list of these parts close to hand will mean you can order a replacement quickly and plan in future maintenance for the parts with longer lead times.

Step 2:

Keep Crucial Parts in Stock

By crucial parts we mean any spare part that is essential to the operation of the equipment in a reliable, effective and safe manner. This could be a motor, spiral, tube or cable and discs, anything that the machine cannot operate without should be kept in stock. Crucial parts can also be anything that has a longer lead time which will be outlined in you recommended spares list. By keeping these parts in stock it will help to minimise the downtime of the machine because you won’t be waiting for a part to be delivered.

Step 3:

Choose a Reliable Supplier

We recognise that keeping spare parts in stock isn’t always possible so choosing a supplier that can offer a quick turnaround on replacement parts is essential. When looking for a supplier also look for a reliable on-time delivery record, every day is a delay in getting your production back up and running and is costing you money. So knowing your supplier is not only fast but more importantly reliable will take a weight off your mind.

Step 4:

Buy Quality Replacement Parts

Many suppliers offer cheap replacement parts but how cheap are they if they cause more problems due to poor quality? Spirals can bend out of shape, discs can shatter and contaminate production and certain parts may not be food grade. When downtime occurs you want to get up and running quickly, but compromising on the quality of the part for the price may be what causes your next breakdown.

Step 5:

Analyse Your Breakdown

When breakdowns occur note down the time, day and type of breakdown and keep this in a database. Over time you will begin to see patterns and trends which you can use to assess which parts need replacing most often. You can react accordingly by keeping these parts in stock or planning maintenance in advance.

This step is also useful if you are looking for a maintenance contract as they will get a full history of your machine breakdowns and they will be able to see if anything is out of the ordinary.

Step 6:

Preventative Maintenance is Key

Preventative maintenance is the frequent inspections of your equipment which will help to identify problems before they happen. Machine operators should be trained to look out for issues such as worn out parts and make inspections monthly, weekly or even daily. Catching these issues early coupled with analysing your breakdown data will help you to further understand your breakdowns and how to prevent them.

Step 7:

Get Technical Support

When choosing a supplier ask if they can offer you the technical support. Whether it is advice over the phone, training or on-site maintenance, often the best way to care for your machine is to get your supplier to do it.

Choose Spiroflow

At Spiroflow, we believe that after-sales support and service form a vital part of every bulk material handling solution that we provide. We have many systems that have been working for decades and that means that they are not only well made but well maintained. Original Spiroflow spare parts are manufactured from premium-quality materials which are precisely tailored to the operational demands of our equipment so don’t be tempted by poor quality replicas. Our service managers & technicians strive to provide the support you need when you need it. It may be installation, commissioning, a total maintenance contract or just the occasional troubleshooting call. Whatever your needs, our service team is here to offer technical advice & react quickly to breakdown calls.

For more information about anything discussed in this article get in touch with our Service & Support department: Contact Us


If you’re asking the question ‘What is Bulk Material Handling’ you are likely new to process manufacturing or looking to solve a current need in your production process.  Either way, we can help.  At Spiroflow we’ve been helping customers with their bulk material handling needs for over 45 years.  So we’d like to share a few insights with you.

The term ‘bulk material handling’ generally refers to the engineering involved in designing mechanical equipment to handle and process bulk materials.  Bulk powders, granules, flakes or pellets are supplied and delivered in a variety of different containers.  These are typically bulk bags (often called big bags, FIBCs or super sacks), boxes (often called octabins), and rigid bins.

Bulk material handling is an essential part of all industries that process dry bulk ingredients.  Process industries include the manufacture of food, beverage, confectionery, pet food, animal feed, tobacco, chemical, agricultural chemical, polymer, plastic, rubber, ceramic, cosmetic, environmental, electronics, consumer home products, mining, mineral, powdered metal, paint, pigment, coating, paper, textile, and recycling industries ALL utilize dry bulk materials.  Why?  For the same reasons, Americans flock to Costco to buy in bulk.  Buying in bulk saves money.  Quite literally thousands of materials are bought or sold in bulk. These vary from food ingredients, chemical powders, and pharmaceutical powders to plastic pellets or flakes.  The photo below shows bulk bags loaded and stacked in the hold of a ship.

Characteristics of Your Material

Bulk materials can be sourced from multiple suppliers all over the world. It is vitally important to understand that the flow characteristics of the same ingredient from different suppliers can be different. For example, milk powder from one processor may be more compacted from shipping or have a higher fat content than another producer.  It is crucial to understand the precise flow characteristics of your material including:

  • Bulk density
  • Particle size
  • Temperature
  • Material form (powder, flake, granule, pellet, fiber, crystal, lump, prill, curl or other)
  • Flowability defined by its angle of repose,
  • Hopper characteristics (does it bridge or “rat-hole”),
  • Material characteristics (interlocks or mats, light & fluffy, aerates, aerates & fluidizes, packs, packs under pressure or vibration, heat sensitive, cohesive, abrasive, fragile, smears, dusty, hazardous, toxic, corrosive, explosive, flammable)
  • Liquid content (% water, % fat, % oil, hygroscopic)

These material characteristics directly affect how you can successfully fill, discharge, convey or mix in your application using bulk material handling equipment.

What Comes in Bulk Bags Must Come Out

Processors must store their bulk materials, then transport and empty them where needed in their process. So you must have mechanical bulk material handling equipment designed to discharge material from bulk bags.  This is the realm of bulk bag discharging which is also called bulk bag unloading.

There are many options to consider. Understanding your application, your material characteristics, and your site conditions allow a specialist bulk material handling supplier to recommend the optimal bulk bag discharger design.

You might be surprised to find that many people contact us regularly needing a bulk bag discharger to fit in a processing site with very limited headroom.  We’ve even built bulk bag unloaders to fit in elevator mine shafts!  Here is a sample of a bulk bag discharger with an integral hoist for processors that don’t have a forklift truck available or are prohibited.

How You Move Your Bulk Material

You’ll need mechanical or pneumatic bulk material handling equipment designed to transport your dry bulk materials within your process. This is usually accomplished with some type of conveyor or feeder such as a belt conveyor, bucket elevator, pneumatic conveyor, cable or chain drag conveyor, rigid or flexible screw conveyor, aero mechanical conveyor, or a vibratory tray feeder.  Selection of the correct conveying technology is again dependent on your application, your material, and your site requirements.  Here is an example of two aero mechanical conveyors conveying material from two rigid silos to a hopper.

Supplying Your Bulk Materials in Bulk Containers

If you supply your material in bulk, you will need bulk filling equipment at the end of your process to fill bulk bags, boxes/octabins, drums or totes. Bulk material filling equipment is very beneficial to processors as they can be used to fill multiple types of bulk containers, minimize manual handling, and provide a safe, easy, controllable and dust-free method of filling. Filling stations can be customized to suit height and access requirements along with potential hazardous areas. Here at Spiroflow, our bulk bag fillers are designed to provide not only a dust-free and accurate method of weighing and filling but also a stable, upright bag for safe storage or transport.

Of course, there are many other types of bulk material handling equipment such as hoppers, bag or sack dump stations, storage silos, bin activators, screeners, bulk bag conditioners, control systems, and more.

At Spiroflow, we have solved bulk material handling solutions around the world.  So if you need some help or advice on the bulk material equipment configuration for your unique needs, contact us!