The team at Spiroflow talks to hundreds of processors around the world every year, and one of the first things they ask us is, “What are the benefits of flexible screw conveyors?” This is a great question to ensure you choose the right conveyor technologies that you can depend on to meet your requirements safely and reliably. This article will explain all the benefits and help you decide if this is the right conveyor for your application.
Explore the Key Benefits of Flexible Screw Conveyors
A flexible screw conveyor (FSC) offers the versatility to transport materials in various directions, ranging from horizontal to vertical, and even maneuver around stationary obstacles. Its capability to handle substantial loads, whether measured in pounds or kilograms, makes it a valuable tool for transferring materials from one location (point A) to another (point B).
However, the effectiveness of this conveyor system is contingent upon the specific requirements of your application. Like any other equipment, FSCs come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages. In the following list, we’ll provide a detailed overview of the situations in which a flexible screw conveyor can be most beneficial for your needs.
Here are some of the most important benefits and considerations to have in mind:
- Easy cleaning and maintenance – Cleaning and maintenance are straightforward with FSCs. They can be quickly stripped down, and optional quick-release and hygienic fittings aid in clean-down efforts. USDA/3A designs are available for sanitary applications.
- Installation – The FSC has a low installation cost.
- Dust control – This type of conveyor is mechanically dust-tight. No external filters are required for operation.
- Residual material – The FSC is not 100% self-emptying. However, running in reverse can easily empty it.
- Running empty – The conveyor can’t be run empty for extended periods without excessive noise and wear.
- Starting and stopping – FSCs can be started and stopped under load.
Best Materials to Convey Using a Flexible Screw Conveyor
Conveyor belt solutions such as flexible screw conveyors (FSCs) excel at transporting a wide spectrum of materials and mixtures, spanning from fine powders to sizable pellets. Our experienced engineers, well-versed in conveyor performance, draw upon a comprehensive testing database to offer tailored advice for your specific application. Consider the following insights:
- Minimal material degradation – These conveyor solutions exhibit notably lower material degradation when compared to other mechanical conveyance methods. This results from a moderate shear stress generated by the screw against the tube. While most granular products, such as sugar, remain unaffected, we recommend material testing for delicate materials.
- Specialized testing for specific materials – For fragile, hygroscopic, and cohesive materials prone to smearing, we advocate conducting material tests within our well-equipped testing laboratories.
- Blending precision – The successful blending of materials hinges on their densities and inherent characteristics.
- Material suitability – Notably, moist materials, sludge, and slurries are not ideal candidates for FSCs.
- Adaptability to temperature – These conveyors are capable of handling materials across a wide temperature spectrum, from hot to cold. Standard UHMWPE tubes with a steel spiral can accommodate materials at temperatures up to 180˚F (82˚C). For higher-temperature applications, up to 300˚F (149˚C), a steel tube is recommended.
- Handling fine particles – Materials with very fine particles that easily fluidize may necessitate the use of a flat spiral. In some instances, the inclusion of a center core may also be advantageous.
Cost of a Flexible Screw Conveyor
Belt conveyor manufacturers recognize that a flexible screw conveyor offers the unique capability to transport materials seamlessly. While it excels in effortlessly transferring substantial loads, its efficacy hinges on the specific demands of your application.
The flexible screw conveyor is almost always the least expensive option when compared to other mechanical conveying systems. Pricing is specifically based on the type of tubing and spiral, the length of the conveyor, the motor size, and the options selected.
Speed and Handling Capacity of Flexible Screw Conveyors
The performance of a FSC is intricately linked to the nature of the materials it transports. It can achieve variable speeds, reaching up to 1,150 RPM, contingent upon the conveyor’s size, depending on factors such as:
- The flow characteristics of the product,
- The bulk density of the materials,
- The overall layout.
Spiroflow is one of the conveyor systems manufacturers with the largest FSC. These typically boast a capacity of up to 29 ft³/min (0.82m³/min). Various models are available, each directly correlating size with capacity. In North America, Spiroflow offers six models based on tube diameter, ranging from 2¼” to 8¾”. In Europe, our FSCs are available in metric sizes, determined by the interior diameter of the tube, which spans from 37mm to 196mm.
Should you require higher conveying capacities exceeding 29 ft³/min (0.82m³/min), you may want to explore an aero mechanical conveyor capable of achieving capacities of up to 36 ft³/min (1m³/min). Alternatively, tubular drag conveyors tend to operate at lower rates and capacities.
It’s important to note that all our screw conveyors are designed to operate at variable conveying rates, offering adaptability to suit your specific needs.
Conveyor Belts Layout Constraints
As with other conveyor belt systems, these solutions have their advantages and limitations. That’s how flexible screw conveyors can be approximately 40 ft (12m) at a 45˚ angle, but they can be significantly longer in a different configuration. Multiple conveyors can be linked to span greater distances. FSCs can only have a single bend. If you need a conveyor with multiple bends, consider an aero-mechanical or tubular drag conveyor.
Standard Materials of Construction and Components
The selection of appropriate tubes, spirals, and components is critical when tailoring industrial conveyor systems to your specific application, whether it involves food-grade materials, abrasive substances, or materials with specialized requirements. With this in mind, let’s go over the following components.
Flexible screw conveyor spirals are versatile, crafted from materials like carbon steel or stainless steel. They come in various shapes to suit specific needs: standard round spirals for most applications, flat section spirals for lightweight materials, and beveled Proscrew spirals for challenging substances.
A center core is used for very light materials and steep inclines. All spirals are heat-treated for durability, with heavy-duty options for demanding materials. Polished spirals are available for food-grade applications. Our expert engineers will recommend the best spiral and tube for your specific needs.
Inlets and Outlets
FSCs can have multiple inlets and outlets and can be run with a full head of material. Vibration, air fluidizers, or agitators can be fitted to assist with poor-flowing products. These conveyors are designed to be run fully charged. Inlets can be fitted with lids, hoppers, agitators, and more. Custom designs are always available.
Our flexible screw belt conveyor system can be designed with options such as a flexible discharge hose, right angle gear reducer, wash down, mobile base, integral bag dump hoppers, and controls.
Hygienic options include food-grade tubing and polished stainless steel spirals, a drop-out inlet for quick cleaning, a sanitary seal standoff, and quick-release tube connections.
Explosion-proof options include anti-static tubing, static grounding (earthing), an explosion-proof motor, anti-static tubing, purged control panels, and 7/9 (ATEX) components.
Make Spiroflow Your Material Handling Solution Partner
The benefits of FSCs extend across a wide spectrum of applications, delivering cost-effective and efficient solutions for material handling. Whether you refer to them as auger screws, screw augers, or by any other name, these conveyors offer reliability and versatility, complementing your conveyor belt system seamlessly. At Spiroflow, we have the expertise to assist you with your conveying needs, bridging the gap between conveyor systems and enhancing their performance. Feel free to contact us for guidance and support.