How Do You Convey a Difficult Product?

by James Podevyn

How Do You Convey a Difficult Product?

If your product has certain characteristics that make it difficult to handle you may be asking yourself – how do you convey a difficult product? The right conveyor for your application is based on a number of factors including – material characteristics, layout, and application and at Spiroflow we help you choose the right conveyor to achieve your process goals. Many products will present a challenge to conveyors but in our 45 years experience the best conveyor for handling difficult product is the aeromechanical conveyor. In this blog, we will discuss what makes a product difficult to handle and how the aeromechanical conveyor is best suited to handle it.

Properties of Difficult Product

Your product may seem like an easy material to convey but it could be explosive, corrosive, hygroscopic or abrasive and all of these factors will have a significant impact on how it is conveyed. Factors such as these may be a challenge when conveying your material.

Flow Characteristics: Is your material sluggish or free-flowing? How the material behaves when it has been conveyed or unloaded is a primary concern when we design your equipment. If your product is sluggish as it is conveyed or it bridges then additional flow aides may be necessary. When we do a materials test we can understand the particular flow characteristics of your product which will help us to recommend the best equipment for your process.

Abrasion: Is your material abrasive? If it is then understanding how abrasive it is will influence what material your conveyor will be made from. When designing your equipment we want to ensure it has a maximum lifespan which we will do by reducing contact points.

Temperature: Temperature can apply to a variety of things such as material temperature, temperature while conveying & the ambient temperature in your facility will all affect how your material behaves as it is processed. This will all have an impact on how the equipment is designed for your process.

Testing the Product

If your product is characterized as ‘difficult to handle’. If it is friable, sticky, hygroscopic or tends to cake or pack, this can be difficult to handle. – In cases where you have a difficult to handle product, lab tests are essential to help us understand how your product behaves. After lab tests, machine trials will give you a full understanding of the product as it is being conveyed to avoid any potential future issues.

At Spiroflow we test for the following:

  • Blending & Mixing – Segregation of blends and mixes can be a problem in conveying so our testing will assess how or if your product will segregate. This will help affect which conveyor you ultimately choose.
  • Rate of Flow – Powders can vary greatly in their flow characteristics; some powders will pack or cake whereas others tend to fluidize when moved. We help to determine the flow of your powder in our machine tests to help develop the design of the equipment and inform your purchasing choice.
  • Particle properties – Bulk solid materials and powders can vary greatly in their particle composition and size, shape and density so understanding the characteristics of your product is a key component of equipment design and choice

View a full list of our product database to find out specific information about your product here: Product Database

The Aero-mechanical Conveyor

Principle of Operation

Our Aeroflow aero mechanical conveyors are of a tubular design in which a continuous wire rope assembly with accurately spaced polyurethane discs move at high speed. At each end of the conveyor, the rope assembly runs around specially designed sprockets, one of which drives the rope assembly and the other tensions it. The drive assembly can be located at either the inlet or outlet of the conveyor depending on its length or to suit plant requirements.

The action of the rope and disc assembly traveling at high speed sets up an airstream 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. High capacities are possible with low energy requirements and with minimal product degradation and separation. Because the aeromechanical conveyor is so successful at moving product it is one of the few effective methods of handling titanium dioxide – a notoriously difficult product to convey.

Controlled Feeding

When operating an aeromechanical conveyor with the difficult product inside it is important to use controlled feeding. This the method of ensuring the material is loaded into the conveyor consistently. If a product is particularly difficult to move it may pack or cake in the hopper and not enter the conveyor regularly and therefore will not convey accurately. In this case, discharge aids may be installed to help the material flow.

Typical Throughputs

This table demonstrates the typical throughputs achieved when conveying through an aeromechanical conveyor.

ProductModel PC3 Tons/Hr (Tonnes/hr)Model PC4 Tons/Hr (Tonnes/hr)Model PC5 Tons/Hr (Tonnes/hr)
BarleyModel PC3 Tons/Hr (Tonnes/hr)16Model PC4 Tons/Hr (Tonnes/hr)33Model PC5 Tons/Hr (Tonnes/hr)66
Carbon BlackModel PC3 Tons/Hr (Tonnes/hr)6Model PC4 Tons/Hr (Tonnes/hr)12Model PC5 Tons/Hr (Tonnes/hr)24
Coffee BeansModel PC3 Tons/Hr (Tonnes/hr)6Model PC4 Tons/Hr (Tonnes/hr)12Model PC5 Tons/Hr (Tonnes/hr)24
Desiccated CoconutModel PC3 Tons/Hr (Tonnes/hr)3Model PC4 Tons/Hr (Tonnes/hr)6Model PC5 Tons/Hr (Tonnes/hr)12
FiberglassModel PC3 Tons/Hr (Tonnes/hr)7Model PC4 Tons/Hr (Tonnes/hr)14Model PC5 Tons/Hr (Tonnes/hr)28
FlourModel PC3 Tons/Hr (Tonnes/hr)6Model PC4 Tons/Hr (Tonnes/hr)12Model PC5 Tons/Hr (Tonnes/hr)24
GypsumModel PC3 Tons/Hr (Tonnes/hr)15Model PC4 Tons/Hr (Tonnes/hr)30Model PC5 Tons/Hr (Tonnes/hr)60
Iron PowderModel PC3 Tons/Hr (Tonnes/hr)10Model PC4 Tons/Hr (Tonnes/hr)20Model PC5 Tons/Hr (Tonnes/hr)40
Hydrated LimeModel PC3 Tons/Hr (Tonnes/hr)5Model PC4 Tons/Hr (Tonnes/hr)10Model PC5 Tons/Hr (Tonnes/hr)20
Milk PowderModel PC3 Tons/Hr (Tonnes/hr)5Model PC4 Tons/Hr (Tonnes/hr)10Model PC5 Tons/Hr (Tonnes/hr)20
OatsModel PC3 Tons/Hr (Tonnes/hr)10Model PC4 Tons/Hr (Tonnes/hr)20Model PC5 Tons/Hr (Tonnes/hr)40
PolyethyleneModel PC3 Tons/Hr (Tonnes/hr)12Model PC4 Tons/Hr (Tonnes/hr)24Model PC5 Tons/Hr (Tonnes/hr)48
PVC PelletsModel PC3 Tons/Hr (Tonnes/hr)10Model PC4 Tons/Hr (Tonnes/hr)20Model PC5 Tons/Hr (Tonnes/hr)40
PVC PowderModel PC3 Tons/Hr (Tonnes/hr)13Model PC4 Tons/Hr (Tonnes/hr)26Model PC5 Tons/Hr (Tonnes/hr)52
SandModel PC3 Tons/Hr (Tonnes/hr)24Model PC4 Tons/Hr (Tonnes/hr)48Model PC5 Tons/Hr (Tonnes/hr)96
Sodium CarbonateModel PC3 Tons/Hr (Tonnes/hr)9Model PC4 Tons/Hr (Tonnes/hr)18Model PC5 Tons/Hr (Tonnes/hr)36
Granulated SugarModel PC3 Tons/Hr (Tonnes/hr)20Model PC4 Tons/Hr (Tonnes/hr)40Model PC5 Tons/Hr (Tonnes/hr)80
TeaModel PC3 Tons/Hr (Tonnes/hr)6Model PC4 Tons/Hr (Tonnes/hr)12Model PC5 Tons/Hr (Tonnes/hr)24
Titanium DioxideModel PC3 Tons/Hr (Tonnes/hr)5Model PC4 Tons/Hr (Tonnes/hr)10Model PC5 Tons/Hr (Tonnes/hr)20
WheatModel PC3 Tons/Hr (Tonnes/hr)33Model PC4 Tons/Hr (Tonnes/hr)66Model PC5 Tons/Hr (Tonnes/hr)132
Zinc OxideModel PC3 Tons/Hr (Tonnes/hr)6Model PC4 Tons/Hr (Tonnes/hr)12Model PC5 Tons/Hr (Tonnes/hr)24

Other Conveying Options

If an aeromechanical conveyor isn’t the right choice to convey your material, there are plenty of other options. Based on your application requirements those alternative solutions might include ultra-heavy-duty structural drag chain conveyorsheavy-duty tubular drag chain conveyors, tubular cable drag conveyors, or flexible screw conveyors.

Do You Have More Questions?

Thanks for reading this article. Feel free to share it if it was helpful. Spiroflow has been in the bulk material handling industry for more than four decades. If you encounter a problem, we probably have a solution. Let us know how we can help you.

If you’d like to see more of what we can do, check out our full line of products. We also do control systems integration; click here for more information on that aspect of our business.