Do you work with a bulk material that tends to clump, settle, or stick to your vessel walls? Does the poor flow cause hours of downtime or affect the quality of your product? Have you tried other flow aids but still ended up manually clearing out the material blocks?
Learn how to improve material handling quickly and efficiently. AirSweep is a pneumatic flow aid that works on the toughest materials and uses less energy and plant air than other flow aids. It is used in all industries and is installed in thousands of plants around the world.
How does AirSweep work?
AirSweep releases high-pressure bursts of air that dislodges material and sweeps it back into the flow stream.
The AirSweep units are strategically positioned around the vessel and then programmed to release bursts of air in a controlled sequence. This sequence is precisely calibrated to match the characteristics of your material. You get better flow while using less air than flow aids that run continuously.
Unlike vibrators and other mechanical flow aids, AirSweep’s air pulses do not damage vessel walls. You don’t even have to deal with any hammering noises – AirSweep releases a quiet hiss that is further muffled by the material in the vessel. You won’t hear a thing!
But the biggest benefit of AirSweep is that you are guaranteed to get reliable, first-in / first-out flow. Watch these AirSweep videos to see it in action.
AirSweep vs. Liquid Cheese
If you’ve ever tried to grate mozzarella, you know how cheese can get sticky and difficult to handle.
Imagine trying to handle an entire hopper full of melted, gooey cheese.
Other flow aids clearly won’t work. Fluidizers can’t activate such a heavy solid, air cannons will leave cheese residue on the vessel walls, and vibrators will only make the cheese more compact.
Who moved the cheese? AirSweep. You can also read another success story of AirSweep in the cheese industry, and how it improved the material handling of whey protein concentrate.
AirSweep vs. Chopped Tobacco
Chips, fibers, flakes, and shavings are irregularly shaped and have a tendency to clump together. That’s why shredded paper makes great packing material – the individual strands form a nest that protects precious cargo. But it can be a headache if you’re trying to process these materials in your plant.
Once again, AirSweep proves that it’s the best way to improve material handling. It isn’t just used in the tobacco industry. Its particular effectiveness for fibers and flakes makes it a popular choice for the paper and construction industries, or any plant that uses recycled materials.
AirSweep vs. Damp, Compacted Fish Powder
Many processes involve mixing powders and liquids, resulting in a very dense solution that can become compact during handling or prolonged storage. Most flow aids won’t be able to move this sticky paste very efficiently – which is why most plants will need to shut down operations to get workers to clear out the vessels.
Skip the downtime, the hammering noises, and the hassle of having to clean your vessels by hand. AirSweep works even on damp, dense solids. Just turn it on, and walk away to focus on other parts of the plant.
AirSweep vs. Calcium Carbonate
Calcium carbonate is a sluggish powder that is prone to packing and sticking to vessel surfaces. It can clog hoppers, build up inside convey lines and filter bags, and cake in filter bags and cartridges.
There are many powders that exhibit similar properties, like carbon black, acetaminophen, and titanium dioxide just to name a few. But AirSweep helped companies move those materials, just like it moves the calcium carbonate in this video.
AirSweep vs. Cement Mix
While the standard AirSweep releases air pulses in 360-degrees (ideal for silos, hoppers, and other similarly-shaped vessels), the AirSweep straight shooter releases air in a vertical column (ideal for chutes, ducts or specific hard-to-reach areas like pipe elbows).
How to improve material handling of tough materials
At AirSweep, we like to say that ‘the proof is in the flow.” We are trusted by the world’s biggest companies because of our proven effectiveness for all types of materials. We also offer a money-back guarantee and the longest warranty in the industry – which shows our confidence in our technology, and our commitment to your satisfaction.
Contact us to find out more about AirSweep or get a customized proposal for your process.
Mined materials are used in almost all industries, from construction to consumer goods. However, these materials can be challenging to move and process because of their physical and chemical properties.
Let’s take a closer look at the common problems that can occur while processing mined materials, and how we can help.
Types of Mined Materials
Mined materials range from metallic ores like iron and copper to non-metallic minerals such as potash and gypsum. The World Mining Data names five different categories:
- Iron and Ferro-Alloy Metals: Iron, Chromium, Cobalt, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Niobium, Tantalum, Titanium, Tungsten, Vanadium
- Non-Ferrous Metals: Aluminium, Antimony, Arsenic, Bauxite, Beryllium, Bismuth, Cadmium, Copper, Gallium, Germanium, Indium, Lead, Lithium, Mercury, Rare Earth Minerals, Rhenium, Selenium, Tellurium, Tin, Zinc
- Precious Metals: Gold, Platinum-Group Metals (Palladium, Platinum, Rhodium), Silver
- Industrial Minerals: Asbestos, Baryte, Bentonite, Boron Minerals, Diamond (Gem/Industrial), Diatomite, Feldspar, Fluorspar, Graphite, Gypsum and Anhydrite, Kaolin (China-Clay), Magnesite, Perlite, Phosphate Rock (incl. Guano), Potash, Salt, Sulfur, Talc (incl. Steatite and Pyrophyllite), Vermiculite, Zircon
- Mineral Fuels: Steam Coal (including Anthracite and Sub-Bituminous Coal), Coking Coal, Lignite, Natural Gas, Petroleum (incl. Natural Gas Liquids), Oil Sands, Oil Shales, Uranium
Each of these has unique flow characteristics that present distinct challenges. For instance, metallic ores often possess high density, while non-metallic minerals may be prone to moisture retention.
Challenges in Material Flow
Material flow problems can lead to machine downtime and increased maintenance costs, which decreases profitability. The most common flow issues encountered while handling mined materials are:
- Bridging. The material forms an arch above the outlet of a hopper or silo. This slows or even completely stops the flow, causing production delays.
- Ratholing. The material accumulates along the vessel walls, forming a channel that restricts the flow. “Old” trapped material also remains in the vessel, instead of first in/first out flow.
- Segregation. The materials segregate based on size or density during flow, resulting in inconsistent quality and potential waste of valuable resources.
Dangers of overflow
While material blocks slow or stop the flow, there’s also a danger of overflow–when equipment breaks down, causing tons of material to suddenly spill to the ground.
The material spill can injure workers, release potentially flammable powders into the air, and take days to clean up.
A processing facility may have to completely shut down operations until a material spill is cleared. Workers will also have to manually clear the material, which can pose health and safety risks.
That’s why mining industry regulations require mines and mined materials facilities to have safety devices and protocols in case any equipment malfunctions.
Ensure safe and efficient flow of mined materials
Control Concepts, Inc. provides a complete solution for material flow problems. Our two superstar products, AirSweep and DAZIC, can work together for smooth and safe operations.
AirSweep is a material flow aid that guarantees on-demand, first-in/first out flow. It is used in the mining industry to resolve bridging, ratholing, and segregation–and save a lot of time and money in the process!
AirSweep’s patented nozzle delivers quick bursts of compressed air or gas along the container walls, breaking down bridges and ratholes without damaging the container or the material. It can activate even heavy, wet, or sticky mined materials. (Read more about AirSweep in the mined material industry.)
DAZIC zero speed switches prevent material spills. It monitors the operational speed of rotating, reciprocating, or conveying equipment. It then triggers an alarm or shuts down a system if the equipment is operating at an unsafe or inefficient speed.
DAZIC can be installed on any equipment that has a rotating part, including conveyor belts, bucket elevators, motors, and more. It is inexpensive, durable, and reliable–and used by both global manufacturing firms and small, local businesses.
For many of those companies, DAZIC is an important part of plant efficiency and safety compliance. (Read more about how a zero speed switch helps you meet safety regulations.)
AirSweep and DAZIC have helped mined materials facilities prevent the toughest material flow problems.
- A mineral processing plant took an hour to fill one supersack with mined materials. AirSweep reduced filling time to just two minutes, for a 1200% increase in productivity.
- One of the fastest growing mining companies in Africa were concerned about the safety issues and high energy consumption of air cannons – especially since workers still spent up to two hours a day clearing leftover material blocks. AirSweep completely solved the problem, prompting them to say, “You should be on billboards everywhere!”
- A global tire manufacturer that uses carbon black installed DAZIC zero speed switches to meet safety standards. A carbon black spill could cause flash fires and breathing problems, and complicated cleaning processes since the material doesn’t dissolve in water and solvents.
- A ready-mix concrete plant loads up to 250 tons of gravel an hour into its feeders. “It would be a nightmare if the DAZIC didn’t shut the conveyor belt down. I don’t even want to think about it,” said the plant supervisor. They installed DAZIC zero speed switches nearly 20 years ago–and they are still working! “They have never quit.”
Take charge of the material flow of mined materials
With AirSweep and DAZIC, you’re not just investing in a product – you’re investing in smoother operations, consistent product quality, and ultimately, a more robust bottom line. Contact us to find out more about how to improve material flow in your facility.
The Hidden Costs of Poor Material Handling–and How AirSweep Can Help
Bridging, ratholing and other material blocks can have a huge impact on your bottom line. When material doesn’t flow, production stalls and you spend time and money fixing the problem. You also compromise your product safety and quality–and even your business reputation.
That’s why poor material handling should be taken seriously. While it’s true that many materials have challenging flow properties, and it’s “natural” for these to settle during storage or cling to vessel walls, you need to get a reliable flow aid.
Don’t think of flow aids as an expense, but as insurance and investment that prevents bigger, more expensive problems. Here are the hidden costs of poor material handling.
Cost of downtime
Profitability depends on productivity. However, bridging and ratholing in any vessel causes bottlenecks and affects all downstream processes. You may even have to pull workers from other parts of the plant to help clear material blocks–or, equally expensive, pay them to sit around and wait for material to flow properly.
A cement company in Asia, which had to deal with shale clogging the silos, estimated that it lost $12,000 for every hour of downtime. For other companies in countries with higher costs of labor, this figure can be even higher.
Cost of spoiled material
When materials get trapped due to poor material handling, the time and conditions can lead to spoilage, particularly in the case of perishable goods. Compromised batches also need to be thrown away.
When this occurs, you don’t just lose the value of the wasted material itself but also the opportunity cost. Resources and time spent on producing, transporting, and storing these materials go down the drain.
A commercial bakery that had issues of flax bridging in the discharge had to throw away up to 40 bags of wasted material a day and even had to pay to have it hauled away. For a local business, this had a significant impact on their profit margins.
Risk of spoiled products and product recalls
Poor material handling is even more dangerous for the food and pharmaceutical industry, which follows strict regulations on product safety. If a product is spoiled, contaminated, or contains any ingredients that are not declared on the label, then there’s a big risk of product recall.
The worst-case scenario is a product recall. According to Food Safety Magazine, direct costs can reach $10 million, not including litigation costs and lost sales and stock value.
The financial aftershocks could last much longer. One U.S. grocery supplier survey showed that after a large peanut butter recall, 3 out of 4 consumers stopped buying the product for over a year–and it took massive marketing and PR efforts to rebuild public trust.
Risk of safety hazards
Caked whey protein caused a fire in a cheese company’s baghouse. This illustrates how poor material handling can become a safety concern–especially when working with materials that are potentially flammable.
There are other safety risks, too. If workers have to manually clear material blocks, they can inhale powders and dusts, or become injured while climbing into vessels and wielding heavy tools.
If they become injured, companies have to shoulder medical fees and potential fines for asking workers to take on responsibilities that they are not specifically hired or trained to do.
AirSweep: trusted solution for poor material handling
AirSweep is a tested and proven system that virtually eliminates issues like bridging and ratholing. The nozzles deliver quick, powerful bursts of air across the material’s surface, breaking up clumps and ensuring a smooth flow.
Here’s why it’s a game-changer:
- Higher productivity. Reduce flushing/cleaning time between product runs
- Better product quality. Improve batch uniformity
- Lower maintenance costs. Prevent vibration, stress, or wear to container walls
- Lower energy costs. Uses less plant air and electricity than fluidizers, vibrators, air cannon, and other flow aids
- No material feedback. The patented nozzle design immediately reseals after every pulse, eliminating feedback. This means less damage to the system and pipes, less cleaning, and no risk of cross-contamination
- No noise. AirSweep runs with a soft, hissing sound
- No safety risks. Workers no longer have to climb into vessels or lift heavy hammers to clear material blocks.
AirSweep is the most powerful, cost-efficient, and safe solution for poor material handling. Read more about how it is used in every industry, and helped thousands of companies increase productivity and lower costs.
You can also contact AirSweep for a personal consultation and custom proposal.