Mined industrial materials are used to make thousands of commodities: building materials, electronics, detergents, medications, plastics, ceramics, paper, glass, and many more. Some minerals are used in processes — such as bentonite for gas and oil extraction, and kaolin for fracking operations.
Many production facilities will process tons of mined materials a day. For example, Barnes Concrete Co. is a manufacturer of ready-mix concrete based in the Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey tri-state area. In just one hour, up to 250 tons of gravel are loaded into their feeders. Imagine the kind of volume in much larger companies that have more products and wider distribution.
Problems and Risks
Working with high volumes of heavy materials can cause several problems in production that can cost millions of dollars if it is not properly managed. Any failure in equipment can lead to tons of materials being spilled—causing delay and possibly injury.
If companies do not manage this risk by incorporating safety devices, they are vulnerable to serious and long-term financial and legal problems.
Regulatory bodies such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) require employers to keep the workplace—whether it is the mining or the processing facility—free of serious recognized hazards.
If a plant inspection reveals negligence or failure to comply, the company can be slapped with large fines and a suspension of its business license.
Barnes Concrete Co.’s plant supervisor Joe Kruzewski estimates that if there were any material spills, it would take three people at least three hours to shovel one ton of gravel.
Since the feeder loads 250 tons of gravel per hour, or about four tons a minute, even a 10-minute delay in response time after a machine fails could result in 30 hours of downtime. “We would have to shovel for days!”
Manually shoveling heavy material also creates another problem: worker safety. Any work that is outside of what a worker is trained and hired to do increases the risk of injury. Other minerals can also be dangerous if they are spilled, because of the weight, creation of flammable or other hazardous environments, or health problems caused by exposure to either the mineral or the chemical compounds combined with it.
Any worker accident can incur both direct and indirect costs. Direct costs include regulatory fines, hospital and litigation costs, and insurance penalties. Indirect costs can be even larger, because of loss of business contracts and long-term damage to reputation.
Manage Risks with a DAZIC® Zero Speed Switch
Barnes Concrete Co. has never had any incidents of material spills because of a simple safety device: the DAZIC Zero Speed Switch.
DAZIC Zero Speed Switches are interlocked into a conveyor system so that operations stop if any equipment runs outside of pre-set speed limits. It prevents material pile-up and all of its disastrous consequences.
They installed the DAZIC Zero Speed Switches on all of their 12 conveyors several years ago. The oldest one is 18 years old, and it is still working.
At that time, Barnes Concrete Co. was still a smaller company with a limited budget for equipment investment. However, the DAZIC Zero Speed Switches cost less than $900 each—a very affordable investment that has paid off.
“It’s really a safety issue,” said Kruzewski. “Any equipment malfunction or failure in the production line could lead to an avalanche of material. It would be a trainwreck [to be] buried with that amount of gravel.”
The speed switches have also proven to be very durable and reliable. “They have never quit. The mounting eventually fails from wear and tear, but that’s more of maintenance on our part, not from the unit failing,” says Kruzewski.
How a DAZIC works
DAZIC Zero Speed Switches are used by both small, local businesses and industry leaders that operate all across the globe.
To find more information on how DAZIC works, visit the product page, which has a simple video explaining its operations, and the different models that can meet your process needs.
You can also contact us for consultation, where we can answer your questions and customize a proposal.
Plants can manage tons of bulk powders and solids every month. In order to manage production costs, it is important to efficiently store, move, and process the materials without waste or delays.
However, many materials have intrinsic properties that can affect how they react to the environment or flow in a vessel. Powders can settle in storage or draw moisture to form clumps. Particles can segregate, and moist or heavy materials can cling to equipment. Bridging and ratholing are also very common.
Improve material handling efficiency
AirSweep pneumatic flow aids can prevent many problems that can increase material handling costs. Its powerful air pulses promote on-demand, first in/first out flow. It is effective for tough materials and has been proven to be more effective than vibrators, fluidizers, and other kinds of flow aids.
Many companies have used AirSweep to reduce material handling costs. One client even said, “The AirSweep paid for itself in just two weeks!”
A food company that uses flax and cocoa powder had to throw away up to 40 pounds of mixture a day and even had to pay to have it hauled away.
When they tried using vibrators and fluidizers, they not only spent more on energy consumption, but also had to spend one hour each day manually clearing out residue with sticks and hammers. However, AirSweep was able to solve 90% of the material retention problem, which significantly increased production and reduced waste.
Increase production speed
Poor material flow can affect production efficiency and the overall output of the plant. One paint company had issues with titanium dioxide, a fine powder that has a tendency to segregate. Since it did not completely empty out during the batch cycle, it would take 50 minutes to transport it a distance of 325 feet.
However, with the AirSweep system, the paint company was able to shorten batch time to 15 minutes.
Stagnant material that is left in the vessel can spoil or affect product size, color, and texture. In order to protect quality and safety, and maintain a consistent formula, it is important for materials to achieve first in/first out flow.
One of the world’s largest manufacturers of infant formulas trusts AirSweep to flush material build-up between production runs of regular and lactose-free milk. The USDA-accepted model also meets sanitation requirements and is so effective that it reduced cleaning time from 40 hours to 10 hours.
Prevent equipment damage
To reduce material handling costs, plants need to choose a flow aid that will not cause structural stress on the vessels. Hammering leaves deep dents and cracks, and air cannons and vibrators cause metal fatigue. Eventually, the vessel will need to be repaired or even replaced.
In contrast, AirSweep does not damage vessels, and can even be used on vessels with very thin walls.
Use energy efficiently
Another key factor in reducing material handling costs is to use energy-efficient equipment.
Though it taps the same level of air pressure as fluidizers and air vibrators, the AirSweep system does not run continuously. It starts and stops with the discharge cycle, and runs in a sequence with one pulse at a time. So overall, it uses less plant air and electricity than flow aids that run continuously.
The energy savings can be very significant for plants located in countries that have a high cost of electricity—such as this cement company in the Philippines.
AirSweep: the most cost-effective flow aid
The AirSweep system can improve material flow and prevent material handling costs. Contact us to find out more about how you can use AirSweep in your process.
Product quality and safety are critical to the food industry. Product recalls can cause millions of dollars, permanently destroy brand reputation, and can even civil and criminal liabilities.
Unfortunately, the rate of food recalls is increasing, and can be one of the biggest threats to a food company’s profitability, says Food & Safety Magazine.
The cost of product recalls
According to the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) in the United States, food recalls cost companies an average of $10 million in direct costs, and even larger indirect costs from lost sales, insurance, lawsuits, and compliance penalties. The following are some indirect costs a company can experience:
- Stopping production
- Removing and destroying contaminated products
- Investigating and testing to identify the source of the problem—as well as other recall tasks that will require additional manpower and technology
- Lost sales from pulling both contaminated products and even the entire product range
- Insurance impacts, including increased annual fees and possible cancellation of the plan
- Legal fees, settlements, and damages
- Penalties from regulatory boards, including fines, shutting down of operations, suspension of registration
- Drop in the company’s stock value
Aside from this, a company will often suffer a media backlash, intense public scrutiny, and overall loss of brand confidence. Customers may decide to switch to another product, or even avoid all products by the manufacturer.
This can lead to a long-term sales depression that can take years to shake off, and only with an extensive marketing and public relations campaign.
Quality control requires material control
Poor material flow can have a huge impact on product quality and safety. Stagnant material can become spoiled and rancid, and develop mold, bacteria, and other microorganisms. Inconsistent flow can cause inconsistent flavor, texture, and nutritional value.
However, many food materials have inherently problematic flow properties. Powders can bind to form a cohesive arch. Flax, cocoa or other materials with a high fat content can cake or clog pipes or filters. Other materials can also settle during storage, and absorb moisture from the air to form hard clumps.
So to get their process going—and ensure that they get first in, first out flow—food companies need a reliable material flow aid like AirSweep.
AirSweep in the Food Industry
AirSweep’s powerful bursts of compressed air sweep stagnant material back into the flow stream, and flush the vessel completely clean. It improves productivity, saves time and money from manual hammering and cleaning, and protects product quality.
A commercial bakery had issues with flax oils caking in the discharge up to the filters. They had to throw away 40 pounds of mixture a day, and even had to pay to have it hauled away. Vibrators hardened the discharge—“practically turned the flax into concrete,” the maintenance head described. Fluidizers were too weak to activate the material. AirSweep was the only material flow aid that worked. “’it gets 10 out of 10!”
A spice manufacturer also uses AirSweep to clean its flush ribbon blenders between batch runs. The system has helped them save $200,000 from flushing material alone.
One of the world’s largest infant formula manufacturers uses the AirSweep USDA 135 and Straight Shooter models for both material activation and cleaning. The units are installed across their processing line—blenders, vacuum receivers, sifters, and packaging line vessels.
By pulsing the AirSweep units during and after the batch runs, they found that the powerful air pulses swept the vessel walls and inner surfaces of residual powder buildup. This made a significant, positive impact on blend uniformity and dramatically lessened the labor and time needed to clean after the batch runs were completed. This allowed them to add batch runs and increase production output.
Proven effective for the food industry
AirSweep is used in the factories of some of the biggest food manufacturers in Asia and North America, and has been proven for various bulk solids and powders, including:
- Animal feeds
- Brewers Grain
Designed for food safety
The AirSweep USDA-accepted models are specially designed to meet the highest standards of sanitation and hygiene. The air-tight nozzle prevents material retention and bacterial growth, and the modular construction is made for easy cleaning and inspection. For convenience, the tri-flange mount allows removal without tools.
Contact us for more information about the use of AirSweep in the food industry, and the best system for your needs.
AirSweep can solve even the most challenging material flow problems—and it’s so easy to install and maintain too. The system can be set up in just a few days and can be attached with simple tools on any kind of vessel.
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions that people ask about installing an AirSweep system and integrating it into their process.
Where is the AirSweep Installed?
AirSweep is attached outside of the vessel. Only the nozzle tip comes in direct contact with the material, and the nozzle closes after each short pulse to minimize material feedback. This makes the system more hygienic and prevents damage to the rest of the system.
How is the AirSweep Installed?
AirSweep can be installed in four simple steps.
- CUT holes where the couplings will be welded. It can also be retrofitted into existing holes in vessels that previously used other flow aids.
- WELD the couplings into place
- INSTALL the AirSweep by threading into coupling, and tightening the lock nut once the proper insertion depth is reached.
- CONNECT the pulse valve with a flex hose to a rigid header that connects to the air supply
The only tricky part is aligning the vessel, and making sure that the nozzle reaches the proper depth. This video demonstrates it clearly.
Is There an Option to Install AirSweep Without Welding It to the Vessel?
You can use the AirSweep outside-in mounting bracket. The kit has all the parts you need, and it can be installed with just a spanner wrench and a small 1-3/8″ diameter hole.
The brackets are available in three sizes, to accommodate the different models. This option is available for all AirSweep models: VA-06 for small vessels, VA-12 for medium to large vessels, and VA-51 for large vessels.
The bracket is recommended for people who want to:
- Minimize modifications to the vessel
- Easily remove the nozzle for cleaning
- Install the flow aid as quickly as possible
Can AirSweep Be Installed on Different Kinds of Vessels?
Yes. AirSweep can be installed in any vessel or area where material has a tendency to hang up. Aside from silos, hoppers, and other material storage containers, it can be placed in gravity chutes, fine grinding mills, extruders, pneumatic convey lines, cyclones, pipes (including elbows and bends), cyclones, and more.
AirSweep can also be installed on:
- Thin vessels that would normally be damaged by agitators, vibrators, or air cannons
- Concrete vessels
- Very small vessels—even as small as 300 millimeters
- Very large vessels
In short, AirSweep can work on any type, size, and material of vessel. We just adjust the system’s pressure and pulse frequency to accommodate any constraints.
How Do I Prepare the Vessel Before Installation?
You do not need to make any changes to the vessel before installing the AirSweep system. It does not require any vessel coating or lining to work. It has such powerful activation that it can move material even on a rough surface.
If your vessel has material, empty it out below the level of where you are installing the nozzle. It can prevent material from spilling while you are drilling the hole and welding on the couplings. However, if you are using aggregate material that won’t spill out, you can actually install the units on a full vessel—if you don’t mind the installation debris.
If sanitation or contamination is a concern, clean out the debris with water or flushing material. You can also use high-pressure cleaning since it won’t affect the AirSweep in any way. The air nozzles are tightly sealed and no water can get in them. In this video, we actually submerged the unit in water to demonstrate its dust-tight, waterproof design.
What Kind of Air Supply Do We Need?
AirSweep can work with any type of pressurized plant air. We recommend treating the air before it goes to the system to avoid introducing moisture into the product.
The key factor is not the type of air that is used but maintaining the correct air pressure and volume. This video explains why.
Where Should I Place the AirSweep Units?
It depends on your material and process. Our engineers will analyze your material flow problem, recommend the best solutions, and then provide a diagram that shows the proper placement, air pressure, and pulse frequency and intervals.
They can also answer any questions you may have about installation—and typically reply in one business day. You can also find the installation guides for your AirSweep model, or watch the installation videos.
Contact us if you have any questions about AirSweep and how it can be integrated into your process.
Have you ever shaken a ketchup bottle because the ketchup was stuck? Industrial vibrators work the same way. The movement breaks apart the material and loosens it from the vessel walls.
But as you’ve probably noticed, there will always be a little bit of ketchup left in the bottle. Vibration can never completely flush a vessel completely clean, especially if the material is damp or dense.
In some cases, industrial vibrators can actually make the material more compact, which is why it is sometimes used to compress materials before packaging. But as a material flow aid, it has limited capability and a lot of trade-offs—such as the need to manually clean material residue, or repair vessels because of metal fatigue.
That’s why many companies who tried industrial vibrators looked for a more effective solution, and found it in AirSweep.
To prevent spoilage, food manufacturers need to achieve first in/first out, on-demand flow. Any stagnant material can degrade and contaminate an entire batch.
The food industry also works with materials with problematic flow properties which don’t respond well to vibration.
Dense, Sticky Materials
Ingredients with a high-fat content will stick to vessel walls, and form a dense bridge or arch that cuts off the flow of material.
A cheese company had similar issues with protein concentrate (WPC). Vibrators only packed the sticky material and worsened the problem. Unfortunately, the stagnant material sparked a fire in their baghouses, creating an urgent safety concern.
They switched to the USDA-accepted AirSweep system. The powerful air pulses sliced through the blocks just like an “air knife”, leaving no residue that could compromise both plant safety and product quality. They now use AirSweep in all their plants in the United States.
A candy manufacturer processes hundreds of pounds of cocoa a day. However, production would stall because the fine powder would pack, bridge and rathole in the hoppers. They tried vibrators, fluidizers and bin aerators—all of which failed. Workers still had to scrape the vessels every 3 days.
But when they switched to AirSweep, success was sweet. “AirSweep works,” said the coatings manager. “We had no breakdowns, replacements or problems whatsoever.” AirSweep also used less plant air and had lower maintenance costs, leading to savings that recovered the system’s cost after two months.
High Moisture Content
A pet food company used a meat, vegetable and grain mixture with a high moisture content. They tried vibrators and pneumatic hammers, but workers still had to climb two stories of stairs to manually clear the bins.
With AirSweep, they were able to achieve on-demand flow. They even use the system to clear out kibble fines as part of the automated clean-outs.
Chemical compounds are used in many industries, such as the dyes and pigments in paints and ceramics, the anti-bacterials in household cleaners, the emulsifiers in food, or the catalyzing agents in pharmaceuticals, and the polymers and plastics in manufacturing.
However, chemicals can have challenging flow properties, and they can react to the environment or with other materials in the process.
An aviation company that deices gates, ramps and other airport equipment had issues of their formula forming rock-solid clumps. The company’s process engineer suggested vibrators. But after the maintenance supervisor saw its description of “gentle vibration,” he knew it wouldn’t work.
When they saw how AirSweep worked, they knew they had found the right flow aid. “AirSweep has made a 100% difference to our materials flowing,” he said.
A global manufacturer of carbon black additives suppliers over 2 million tons to paint, plastic, rubber, tire and ink industries every year. However, carbon blank has a tendency to form deposits on conveyors, cake while unloading, and bridge in the hoppers.
When vibrators proved ineffective, they switched to AirSweep. Installation took less than 48 hours, and since then, they never had to worry about process delays.
Cement uses some of the most challenging bulk materials, including fine or moist limestone, slag, clay and bauxite. The cohesive and adhesive properties that make them so ideal for construction also create issues like bridging, ratholing, and flooding.
AirSweep is used in the factories of some of the biggest cement manufacturers in Asia and North America.
A regional manufacturer of asphalt had been using electric vibrators for years. But over the weekend, the asphalt would settle, forcing workers to spend most of Monday clearing out thick layers of compact material.
Once they switched to AirSweep, they never had this problem again. “After four years, we finally have the right solution! We are very happy with the system,” said the plant manager.
AirSweep also helped a cement company in Asia dramatically improve production. Cement materials would solidify because of plant humidity, forcing long plant shutdowns and a loss of $12,000 per hour of downtime.
They had tried vibrators and air knockers, but only AirSweep was able to create on-demand flow—while using half as much energy as other flow aids.
AirSweep is More Effective than Vibrators
Flow tests and case studies have shown that AirSweep is more powerful and cost-efficient than vibrators and other flow aids that use agitation. For more comparisons of AirSweep vs Vibrators, check out these links:
- Video: AirSweep vs Vibrators – Performance, Costs, and ROI
- Competitive Analysis: Industrial Vibrators Pros and Cons
- Brochure: Vibrators vs AirSweep