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A: Don Mackrill, Spiroflow, says:

Selecting the ideal mechanical conveyor can be a daunting task — possibly even a nightmare — for those who may not be aware of the features and benefits of the various equipment types available. Here are some key considerations for choosing a mechanical conveyor for your process.

Material characteristics. Arguably the most critical aspect to consider is the material that you’re trying to mechanically convey. Issues such as material flowability, abrasiveness, and cohesiveness should always be taken into account, whereas material degradation or the need to maintain a blend may be key aspects to consider in some applications. Therefore, it’s vital to look for a conveyor supplier with a comprehensive material test database as well as a test laboratory equipped with a complete range of conveyors to enable adequate testing for your specific application prior to making an investment in new equipment.

Rate, layout, and safety. Understanding the material rate requirements, possible conveying routes, and identifying any potential hazards is important in conveyor selection and design. You’ll need to get answers to the following questions:

  • How far do you need to move the material and at what rate?
  • Does the conveyor need to pick up from or feed multiple locations or follow a complex route around other equipment or structures?
  • Are there any special safety considerations based on the installation location’s area classification, traffic, or other processes?

Hygienic and sanitary requirements. A crucial deciding factor in mechanical conveyor selection is the necessary hygiene specification. With food- and pharmaceutical-grade applications requiring some of the highest sanitation standards, a fully enclosed, clean, and dust-free conveyor is essential. In addition, choosing a conveyor that incorporates easy-to-clean or clean-in-place features will be another key consideration.

A tubular drag conveyor offers a fully enclosed system that minimizes dust emission and material contamination risks and can be fitted with a variety of clean-in-place solutions to speed up the sanitation process. Some tubular drag conveyors can also be supplied with FDA-compliant coated rope to eliminate material contact with the metal-stranded cable, thereby reducing possible harborage points and reducing the metallic contamination risk.

Many of the features for a tubular drag conveyor are also available on an aeromechanical conveyor. Because of its near-to-total material transfer capability, an aeromechanical conveyor can also help minimize the presence of any residual material in the conveyor system between batches.

Installation speed or mobile requirement. For applications that require versatility or rapid, flexible installation options, a mobile conveying solution might be the best option. Aeromechanical conveyors and flexible screw conveyors can readily be mounted on wheeled frames, complete with integral controls. This makes it possible to use one conveyor to serve several processes or to remove it to a remote washdown area for cleaning.

Spiroflow, Monroe, NC, supplies standard and custom powder handling equipment.