A tubular drag chain conveyor can be an important part of a process. If they’re not running like they’re supposed to, or not at all, then they’re not doing anyone any good.
At Spiroflow, we’ve been in the dry bulk material handling industry for more than 45 years and we are proud of our work and our conveyors. We want our conveyors to run well, just like you do. That’s why we are writing about keeping your conveyors moving.
What is a Tubular Drag Chain Conveyor?
For the purpose of this article, when I mention drag chain, I’m referring to heavy-duty tubular drag chain conveyors. These conveyors have crevice-free stainless steel chain and UHMWPE disc assemblies and run inside a stainless steel tube. They’re totally enclosed, dust-free, accommodate multiple inlets/outlets, and can run at varying conveying rates.
Ultra-heavy structural tubular drag chain conveyors have chain and disc assemblies that can be made of steel or cast iron. These conveyors operate inside of a structural pipe. We discuss these types of conveyors in more detail in another post. But for now, let’s focus on tubular drag chain conveyors.
Problems with Drag Chain Conveyors
Any and all problems with tubular drag chain conveyors can be avoided. Issues sometimes arise when users expecting ultra-heavy-duty results from this heavy-duty conveyor. We believe tubular drag chain conveyors are effective pieces of machinery and it is our job to inform and advise processors of the right conveyor for their application.
Ultra-heavy-duty drag chain conveyors operate with the confines of a structural schedule 40 pipe. Tubular heavy-duty drag chains operate within a stainless steel tube that is not structural in nature. Like many conveyors, they must be properly supported and operated correctly to avoid damage from overloading or misuse. The conveyor circuit defined by the outer casing also has to be considered for strength and wear characteristics. The tube is not as strong as pipe.
The bottom line is that you can’t treat tubular drag chain conveyor as an alternative to a structural drag chain conveyor. Tubular conveyors will be cheaper, but the conveyors are designed for different applications.
Why Chains are Worth It
One of the biggest benefits of drag chain conveyors is their hygienic quality. Processors in the food industry lean towards these because food particles won’t get trapped in the chain and disc assembly. Both structural and tubular conveyors effectively maintain blends. They both work well with dry, fragile, and abrasive products.
- Drag chain conveyors can operate in three planes which allow complex circuits eliminating transfer points and using only a single drive.
- They have minimum horsepower and energy consumption when compared to pneumatic conveying systems with equivalent rates.
- They can be meter or flood fed.
- They have minimal noise levels.
- There’s no need to mechanically separate product from the conveying stream. Gravity works just fine!
- The gentle conveying action minimizes product degradation.
- They won’t separate blends.
- They may operate under pressure differential or inert purge.
The Value of a Test Lab
We know how important your application is to you. We work closely with our clients to ensure our recommended conveying solution meets or exceeds all of your requirements. That’s where our test labs come in. Our test labs in the US and the UK are designed to test your materials under actual operating conditions. Material testing is particularly important if your product is hygroscopic, moist, cohesive, hot (up to 180˚F/82˚C), a sludge, a slurry, or has fine particles.
Materials of Construction
What you want inside the conveyor determines what the conveyor’s contact surfaces should be made of. Based on your application needs our tubular drag chain conveyor can be supplied in 304 or 316 stainless steel.
Non-contact components materials of construction can be 304 or 316 stainless steel.
Keeping the Chain on Track
Tubular drag chain conveyors earn their moniker as heavy-duty conveyors. They require periodic, very low maintenance. They can run empty. They can also start empty or under load.
An auto-tensioning system is highly recommended so they are standard with our tubular drag chain conveyors. A proper auto tensioner will minimize operator maintenance and maximize chain life.
Spiroflow has been around for more than four decades and our experts are ready to answer any questions you have about these conveyors.