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Cement Powder Handling Problem Solved

A machine handling cement

Spiroflow Systems, a respected leader in the powder handling and conveying industries, is known for its innovative and effective design solutions. The company recently worked with Access Security Products Ltd. to resolve a powder handling problem with a proprietary cement mixture. Discover how the cement powder handling problem was solved.

Challenges and Strengths of Access Security Products Ltd.

Access Security Products Ltd. stands out as a prominent producer and distributor of safes and vaults that are resistant to both burglary and fire, along with other physical security solutions. They utilize a unique, costly cement blend in their safes and vaults, making them highly resistant to break-ins and fire damage.

This specialized cement boasts outstanding compressive strength, ensuring top-notch protection against burglaries. However, the material presents handling challenges. It’s a fine powder that is densely packed upon delivery, prone to clumping, and can easily bridge. Additionally, it’s abrasive and has a high tendency to absorb moisture.

Meeting the Monthly Cement Transfer Challenge

Once a month, a shipment containing 20 tons of cement is received from Europe at Access Security Products Ltd. This cement is transported in twenty single-use, lined bulk bags, each weighing 2,000 lbs. These bags need to be promptly transferred to a large outdoor storage silo to prevent moisture absorption. The objective set by the company is to unload each bulk bag in 30 minutes, aiming to empty all 20 bags within a span of 10 hours. To achieve this, the company requires a strong and dependable system for handling the powder efficiently.

Challenges and Resolution in Powder Handling at Access Security

Initially, Access Security acquired a $40,000 pneumatic conveying system from another manufacturer. However, conveyed cement material built up within the conveying tube, making the conveyor totally inoperable. Since prolonged cooperation with the vendor didn’t produce the desired result, Access Security’s only choice was to scrap the equipment and find an alternative conveying solution. The company was without a powder handling system for about a year and was emptying the bulk bags directly into the storage silo with a crane – an expensive and labor-intensive process.

Interior of a plant

Strategic Collaboration with Spiroflow Systems for Enhanced Powder Handling

President Peter Gauthier considered his options and turned to Spiroflow Systems. The requirements for a new system were:

  • Provide a completely closed robust system that could reliably convey their cement material without material build-up and excessive wear on equipment.
  • Accommodate bulk bag unloading inside the company’s warehouse but convey the product through the roof, outside the building, and into a large outdoor storage silo approximately 40’ away.
  • Operate reliably and consistently in temperature and weather extremes typical in the Ontario, Canada, region.
  • Provide a dust-free solution to minimize exposure to moisture in the environment and to provide a clean and safe work environment for employees.
  • Successfully unload the 2,000 lb single loop, lined, single trip bulk bags within 30 minutes or less.
  • Incorporate appropriate discharge aids (side massage, bottom massage, and agitation) to encourage material flow.
  • Minimize product loss.
  • Offer proof that the recommended solution will work before purchase.
  • Provide a solution guarantee!

Due to the characteristics of the particular cement mixture and the frustration the customer had previously experienced, Spiroflow Systems experts recommended that it be tested in the company’s test lab. President Peter Gauthier commented, “Having our cement powder thoroughly tested was a vital step in the process. It gave us confidence that Spiroflow’s recommended solution would work as specified.” Additionally, Spiroflow Systems has long guaranteed any powder-handling solution tested in their lab. “The company’s performance guarantee also gave us peace of mind,” added Gauthier.

Bulk bag discharger

Optimal Unloading Solution – The T4 Bulk Bag Unloader

Based on Access Security’s requirements, Spiroflow Systems recommended their T4 Single Trip bulk bag unloader, a combination of flexible screw and aero mechanical conveyors, and a control panel. The T4 bulk bag unloader features a pneumatic knife designed to slice open the bottom of each one-use bulk bag. It includes a dust control system with a rubber-sealed membrane inside the support dish, ensuring minimal dust escape.

This unloader is equipped with massage and vibration functions at its four corners, facilitating material flow. Furthermore, the pneumatic knife not only opens the bags but also helps in loosening compacted material at the bottom of the bags, aiding in smoother material discharge.

Efficient Conveyance with Flexible Screw Conveyors

Dual flexible screw conveyors, only three feet in length and positioned at a 45° angle, are fitted to the bottom of the bulk bag unloader. These conveyors utilize Proscrews to move the material out of the discharge hopper. Proscrews have a beveled profile ideal for conveying poor-flowing material, and their semi-rigid construction enables steep conveying angles without bends.

Vertical and Inclined Aero Mechanical Conveyors Integration

The dual flexible screw conveyors deliver the fine cement powder out of the bulk bag unloader into a vertical aero mechanical conveyor, which is four inches in diameter, 13’ long, and positioned vertically. A second aero mechanical conveyor, 38’ long and positioned at a 33° incline, moves the cement material from the vertical conveyor through the roof and outside the building into the outdoor storage silo.

Multi-container unloader

Advanced Control System for Optimized Operation

A NEMA 4 Certified Control Panel was provided and operates the entire system. Specific controls include:

  • VFDs for the flexible screw conveyors,
  • Motor starters for the agitators and aero mechanical conveyors,
  • A low-level probe in the hopper of the bulk bag unloader,
  • Four-corner massage,
  • Vibration.

Given the physical properties of the cement powder, Spiroflow engineers recommended that the company completely clean the equipment after each container of material is conveyed into the outdoor storage silo. This prevents any potential material build-up from interfering with equipment operation.

Successful Implementation and Enhanced Performance

Once installed and commissioned, operators at Access Security report that the new powder handling system works beautifully. The system is reliable, operates just as promised, and performs at twice the required rate – all without material build-up. The closed system keeps the cement powder dry and contained, resulting in minimal product waste and a clean, safe environment for employees. Peter Gauthier reported, “Spiroflow’s equipment handles our cement powder quite well and actually empties each bulk bag in only 15 minutes. Our goal was to empty each 20-ton container in 10 hours, and we have cut that time in half!”

A row of box unloaders

Cement Powder Handling Problem Solved With Our Expertise

For over four decades, Spiroflow Systems has been at the forefront of designing, engineering, and manufacturing a comprehensive range of powder handling and conveying solutions. Our portfolio caters to a diverse set of customers, offering both standard and customized options for small-scale and large-volume needs. Our product line includes bulk bag unloaders (also known as bulk bag dischargers) and fillers. We are also among the leading conveyor systems manufacturers offering a flexible screw conveyor, aero mechanical, tubular cable and chain drag, and pneumatic industrial conveyor systems, along with box, bag, and drum dump stations, robotic palletizing, and the “Pacepacker” series of automated packing and pick-and-place systems.

We Are Conveyor Manufacturers Serving a Wide Range of Industries

We serve a wide array of industries, including cement, chemicals, plastics, ceramics, bricks, glass, minerals, water treatment, environmental sectors, as well as waste and recycling. Additionally, our solutions are crucial in the food, dairy, snack food, confectionery, beverage, pet food, pharmaceutical industry, and packaging industries. For more details about Spiroflow Systems and our full range of conveyor technologies, contact us or simply call 704-246-0900 to address your specific needs.

For more information on Access Security Products visit their website at