Category Archive: News and Information

Webinar Sponsorship: Key Considerations to Develop a Basis of Design for an Effective Bulk Material Storage System

AirSweep and Powder Bulk Solids will be holding a free webinar on selecting a silo design for effective material flow on December 7, 2021.

Poor silo design can affect material flow, and cause storage and discharge upsets. The webinar “Key Considerations to Develop a Basis of Design for an Effective Bulk Material Storage System” will help participants understand the key factors for operational success, and how to develop a design document that they can share with equipment vendors.

corn in a silo

The webinar will be held on December 7 at 2pm Eastern Standard Time. Topics will include different types of storage systems, common flow problems, and the key parameters for a design document. Speakers include Eric Maynard, Vice President of Jenike & Johansen.

Click on this link to register for the event.

Shorten Your Cleaning Cycles with Clean In Place and AirSweep

A Clean in Place (CIP) system automatically cleans and sterilizes process equipment and transfer lines. Workers do not need to dismantle equipment for manual vessel cleaning, which takes a lot of time and can still have a high risk of error. A vessel can “look” clean but still have bacteria or residue in hard-to-reach crevices.


Food and dairy industries use Clean in Place for vessel cleaning to avoid bacteria growth Photo credit: Unsplash

Why should I get a Clean in Place system?

CIP is critical for industries which have to comply with industry regulations such as the Food Safety Modernization Act and the ANSI/ISA-88. Under FDA CFR21 (Federal Regulations Code 21), pharmaceuticals even have to document their vessel cleaning procedures.

The industries that use Clean in Place systems to meet hygiene and sanitation standards are:

  • Food/Dairy. Milk and dairy products are particularly vulnerable to spoilage and the rapid growth of bacteria. Ingredients with high sugar content are prone to caramelization, while sticky powders can cling to vessel walls.
  • Breweries. Large-capacity vessels may require multiple spray devices to be properly cleaned. A phosphoric acid wash may be required in some cases to remove beerstone build-up.
  • Beverage. CIP is used to clean water and syrup product lines to remove scale, bacteria and other foreign bodies to prevent flavor carryover and bacteria build-up, and improve shelf life.
  • Cosmetics. Like the food industry, cosmetics manufacturers need to prevent bacteria growth, particularly in products that do not use preservatives like parabens. However, the ingredients are very sticky, oily and water resistant. The design of the vessels may have baffles, mixers or other parts that cause shadowing or areas where the vessel cleaning solution can’t reach).
  • Pharmaceuticals. Usually have the highest level of Clean in Place technology, particularly due to increased potency of active ingredients, which increases standards for operator protection.

Benefits of Clean in Place Systems

However, many processing companies are using stricter vessel cleaning processes simply because it makes business sense. Benefits include:

  • Increased production. Spend less time cleaning, and more time making products.
  • Lower costs. You can control the amount of water and energy used, and recover some of the vessel cleansing solutions for re-use.
  • Employee safety. Workers are not directly exposed to cleaning agents.
  • Improved product quality, consistency and safety. Contamination can lead to product recalls and loss of brand confidence. CIPs help you keep a “clean” reputation.

According to Transparency Market Research, with its increasing industry penetration, “Processors who don’t use Clean in Place systems may be at a competitive disadvantage.”

Clean in Place systems clean internal surfaces, while Clean Out of Place systems like AirSweep clean the external surfaces that CIP can’t reach.

Photo credit: Unsplash

How does a Clean in Place (CIP) System work?

CIPs will typically pump a vessel cleaning solution through the same piping path as the product, so it can remove scale or material residue, and kill bacteria like yeast spores or e. coli.

Cleaning is done at the end of a production run, or to prepare a process line before changing from one product to another.

What’s the difference between CIP and COP?

Both Clean in Place and Clean Out of Place (COP) sanitize vessels — the difference is basically “inside and outside.”

A CIP system cleans the internal surfaces such as pipes, mixing tanks, pumps, valves, storage vessels, and other equipment. The production line is connected to a flushing system so the equipment doesn’t have to be dismantled.

A COP system like AirSweep cleans the outside surfaces of external parts such as fittings, hoses, clamps, conveyor belts and other components that the CIP can’t reach. AirSweep’s high pressure nozzles blast away the dirt, much more efficiently than using plain elbow grease.

Typical Clean in Place cycle

The CIP cycle will have these steps, though the sequence and duration can vary according to the process and material.

  • Pre-rinse. The lines and tanks are wet to remove or soften residue, and dissolve sugars. It typically uses plant water, de-ionized water, or the final rinse solution from the previous CIP sequence.
  • Caustic wash. A high-concentration vessel cleaning solution softens fats and sticky, stubborn residue. Caustic wash can be returned to the tank and reused, to reduce water and energy costs.
  • Intermediate and/or final rinse. This flushes out any residual detergents. The solution can be recovered for the next CIP pre-rinse cycle. It has trace chemicals which can make it more effective than plant water.
  • Sanitizing rinse. This uses either hypochlorite solutions or peracetic acid to kill microorganisms.

Some industries may need additional steps, like a push-out cycle that recovers material before pre-rinsing, or an acid wash to remove mineral scale residues. An air-blow cycle can also remove moisture after the sanitizing rinse, which can help processes with powder or hygroscopic material.

Common vessel cleaning solutions

Clean in Place systems can either use high-pressure cleaning that forcibly flushes down any stubborn residue, or low-pressure cleaning that rely purely on chemical action. Common vessel cleaning agents include:

  • Caustic soda. Ideal for breaking down fats and oils, but not as effective for removing scale.
  • Nitric and phosphoric acids. Used to break down scale, but must be handled carefully because it can break down the valve seals. Dairies can use this solution once a week to remove milk scale.
  • Sodium hypochlorite. Inexpensive, but the least effective. It must be rinsed out well. If it mixes with any other acid, it can form poisonous chlorine gas. Do not use stainless steel vessels, since it will corrode the finish and the seals.
  • Peracetic acid (PAA). At concentrations of 75 mg/liter, it can kill 100% of yeast or bacteria in 30 seconds, even at low temperatures. Unlike bleach-based solutions, it does not corrode stainless steel, and is more eco-friendly. However, it should only be used in well-ventilated areas.

How can I optimize my Clean in Place system?

  • Check fluid velocity. Laminar flow below 1.5 m/s won’t clean effectively. Increase it to 1.5 to 2.1 m/s.
  • Watch out for CIP return / backup. This causes all sorts of problems: longer cleaning times, wasted heat and cleaning materials, high discharge, and poor cleaning of the lower part of the vessel. A good scavenge pump can carry away the solution and even recover it for later use.
  • Adjust parameters. Find the ideal temperature, concentration and contact time for your cleansing solution, and the volume and velocity of the rinses. CIPs allow you to monitor and document results, so check your data and tweak your process accordingly.
  • Start with a clean surface. Incorporate AirSweep into your CIP system to achieve a powder-free surface before you clean. It increases duration between cleans, and shortens the actual cleaning process—for a smarter CIP.

Every hour of downtime is dollars lost. AirSweep can help prevent material build up that forces a clean, and can be incorporated into your Clean in Place system to shorten your cleaning cycles. Contact us to find out more about how to use AirSweep in your vessel cleaning process.

3 Reasons Why Willy Wonka Needs an AirSweep



It’s been 50 years since the release of the classic film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, the story of five kids who get a chance to win the world’s biggest candy plant and realize all the possible things that can go wrong inside it.

Because we all know it takes a lot of work to make all that candy, and anything can go wrong in each stage of production.



To celebrate the film’s 50th anniversary, Powder&Bulk Solids wrote a brilliant article on 5 Things Manufacturers Can Learn from Willy Wonka’s Factory. It’s funny, but also painfully true. For example, Violet Beauregard is a berry good example of the importance of product safety.



Dear Mr. Wonka – can we interest you in an AirSweep?

AirSweep can’t really do much about exploding blueberries, but there are ways we can help you with potential problems in production.

Does your material flow look anything like this? AirSweep can resolve bridging, arching, and other problems to get it moving out of the vessel.



Are your workers still manually cleaning your vessels? You can use the AirSweep to automate your cleanouts, just like how it’s used by one of the world’s biggest infant formula manufacturers.



And AirSweep is also ATEX-certified for potentially hazardous and explosive environments.



So, if you know how we can get in touch with Mr. Wonka, please let us know. We can help him manage the little problems that affect his production and spoil the fun.

And we can help you, too.

When you’re not worrying about material flow, you can focus on things that really matter. And for all the Willy Wonkas running a factory where things (and occasionally, giant blueberries) can blow up any time, that’s the best happy ending.


5 Challenges of Bulk Material Handling

Bulk material handling equipment is designed to quickly move and process tons of material a day—and theoretically, requires minimal manual intervention.

In reality, many plant managers are plagued with material flow problems that slow down the entire process. Silos and hoppers get clogged, and workers have to stop everything they’re doing to hit them with a hammer. Material residue clings to ribbon blenders or mixers, and have to be flushed out with flour.

It’s tedious, time-consuming and can significantly affect productivity and costs. A cement company that had issues of shale hanging on the silo wall estimated that they lost $12,000 for every hour of downtime.

Even state-of-the-art equipment will run less efficiently if material isn’t flowing properly from one stage of the process to another. Here are some of the most common material handling problems, and how companies were able to solve them to get production back on track.

No flow/Poor flow

Flow problems can happen in practically any bulk handling equipment, but there are three issues that are really common among silos and hoppers.

Material can form a stable arch over the outlet (bridging and arching), which can block material flow completely, or, it forms a stable open channel, but leaves stagnant material at the side (ratholing). According to Processing Magazine, “Ratholing can lead to erratic flow and reduce the bin’s live capacity by 90%.”

A material’s property can affect its tendency to form very cohesive arches, and how it responds to flow aids. Damp, moist and sticky materials will not respond to gentle aeration, and can even become more compact when vibrated or agitated.

AirSweep uses powerful air pulses which can lift even the most problematic materials.

Material segregation

Differences in particle size, density and chemistry can lead to material segregation. This becomes a problem in downstream processes, when the bulk solids need to have a uniform composition. If segregation isn’t addressed, it can affect the integrity of the formula, batch uniformity, package weights, and flowability.


Bulk powders that have poor flow properties such as fine-grained titanium dioxide—one of the commonly used nano-materials—have a tendency to segregate. A paint company used it in their new product formulation; the material would not completely empty out during the batch cycle, and it took 50 minutes to transport it a distance of 325 feet. Installing AirSweep VA-12 units effectively reduced batch time to 15 minutes.

Bulk material contamination

If equipment is not efficiently cleaned, stagnated material can contaminate any new materials that are loaded into it. This can affect the product quality—size, color, texture—and even its safety.

Material contamination can be a nightmare for food companies that have to recall products if there is any suspicion that their formula has been compromised. “The average cost of a recall to a food company is $10M in direct costs, in addition to brand damage and lost sales,” said Food&Safety Magazine, citing a joint industry study by the Food Marketing Institute and the Grocery Manufacturers Association.

A manufacturer of spices and flavorings used ribbon blenders to custom-blend ingredients. Their method of manually flushing with flour was labor-intensive and expensive, so they replaced them with AirSweep VA-12 Tri-Tri units. These not only completely cleaned the equipment, but could be conveniently removed without tools for frequent sanitizing.

Machine damage (and worker stress)

Hammering a vessel leaves dents and cracks, but even the strain of the material build up can cause structural stress.

The small cracks in the vessel can worsen over time, and even be aggravated by some kinds of flow aids like agitators, vibrators, or air cannons. Eventually, the vessel will need to be repaired or even replaced.

Don’t discount the damage that these flow aids can do to your workers, too. Bunge, an agribusiness and food ingredient company in the US, had issues of rice bran clumping in their hoppers and silos. “Workers had to hammer the vessels, which was ineffective and stressful for everyone in the factory. It was like fingernails on the chalkboard. You wanted to get away from it,” said John Pappenheim, Bunge’s Maintenance Manager.

AirSweep proved to be a more effective—and incredibly quiet—alternative. The air pulses lifted the rice bran back into the flow stream, and its faint hiss was further muffled by material in the vessel. Everyone in the plant could work in peace.

Material pile-up

Barnes Concrete supplies ready-mix concrete to the Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey tri-state area. The feeder loads up to 250 tons of gravel per hour. Any equipment malfunction or failure in the production line could lead to an avalanche of material.

“It would be a train wreck [to be] buried with that amount of gravel,” said plant supervisor Joe Kruzewski. He estimates that it would take three people at least three hours to shovel one ton of gravel. “We would have to shovel for days!”

Material pile-ups can happen to any plant and any industry, and can be avoided with a very small and relatively inexpensive part: a DAZIC zero speed switch. It can be attached to the rotating shaft of any equipment to detect abnormal changes in speed. So if equipment is running too fast or too slow, it sends out an alarm so you can switch off the process before a pile up occurs.


What issues do you have with bulk material handing, and how can we help? Contact us and we’ll be happy to customize a proposal for you.

Material flow: How to improve it in silos and hoppers

Promoting material flow

Engineers and plant managers are often tasked to design or recommend the right container for storing and handling bulk solids. They have to weigh several factors — capacity, storage duration, installation cost, and how well it protects the material from moisture and pests.

But there’s another factor that greatly affects productivity and can lead to expensive hidden costs: the material flow. Some containers are more prone to bridging and arching, particularly above the discharge. This can affect productivity, product quality, and profit.

Let’s look at the two most common containers – silos and hoppers – and how to promote reliable material flow in them.

Overview: Material flow: How to improve it in silos and hoppers

Silos and hoppers are prone to different material flow issues. In the following slide presentation, you’ll learn the difference between the two and how material flow can help improve their performance.

What’s the difference between a silo and a hopper?

Silos are the oldest storage vessel used by man.

Silos are the oldest storage vessel used by man. Credit: Michael Trolove / Grain Silos at Manor Farm

Silos are used for bulk storage. While the earliest silos were primarily used to store extra grain, modern silos can hold any kind of material: cement, black carbon, plastic resins, wood chips, and more.

Common types include tower silos, bunker silos, and bag silos.

Hoppers are used for temporary storage or measured feeding systems. They come in different shapes: cones, wedges, pyramids, or a combination of these.




Common material flow problems

Ideally, any material in silos and hoppers can be discharged quickly and consistently to prevent production delays or accumulation of stagnant material that can spoil or contaminate the next batch. However, many plant managers are plagued with material blocks in their production line.


Material builds up on the vessel walls, restricting the flow and the vessel’s full storage capacity. When the flow channel empties and material flow ceases, it can form a stable rathole that may collapse and block the opening.

Bridging or arching

Materials interlock or bond together to form an arch above the outlet, blocking any flow. The strength of this arch depends on the cohesive strength and internal friction of the particles. Hammering or blasting with an air cannon can break the arch, but this can overload and damage the vessel.


If the vessel is filled with different particle sizes, it’s natural for finer particles to collect at the center of the bin, while coarser particles stick to the slope. The variable, inconsistent material discharge can affect product uniformity.

Factors that affect material flow in silos and hoppers

An example of a hopper.

A hopper shows hammer marks from workers who tried to clear material blocks.

Material properties

Some materials are more prone to arching, bridging or segregation. Fine powders, small particles and sticky materials have a higher cohesive strength and tend to bridge or compress along the vessel walls.  

Other factors include bulk material density, the pressure applied by its weight in storage, permeability, and tendency to retain moisture. Ideally, these material flow properties are considered while choosing the silo or hopper design. 

Vessel angle

If the hopper walls are not steep or smooth enough, the material won’t flow down the vessel walls. It will cake and build up, or if it has enough cohesive strength, it can bridge over the outlet or form a rathole as it empties out.

The hopper angle depends on the friction between the powder and the walls, the friction between powder particles, and the shape of the vessel.

Vessel shape

Generally, square feed hoppers work better for bulk materials with uniform pellets. However, when there is a large variation of particle size — like when virgin material is combined with plastic regrind — circular hoppers allow for a more gradual compression.

Outlet and feeder

The size of the outlet, the discharge rate, and the interface of the feeder can all affect material flow at the bottom of the vessel. This is particularly problematic for materials that have greater cohesive strength and bulk density, or have a tendency to segregate or spoil.

Steep cones or wedge-shaped hoppers may be able to promote mass flow. Flow aids can also break any bridging or arching above the discharge.

How to improve poor material flow in silos and hoppers

AirSweep Material Flow Aid

Material flow aids can help break through bridging and arching and promote on-demand flow. These can include:

  • Mechanical flow aids like vibrators or agitators
  • Pneumatic flow aids like fluidizers and AirSweep
  • Chemical flow aids like fumed silica

Each flow aid will have its pros and cons. Some are better suited for certain types of bulk solids. For example, vibrators can actually compact moist or dense solids like flax or whey protein, while fluidizers are only effective for light powders like flour. (Get a competitive analysis for different kinds of flow aids.)

Flow aids can be retrofitted into silos and hoppers. This can be more cost-effective than replacing the bins or having them custom-made. Some of them, like the AirSweep, barely require any modification of the silo or the hopper since they are installed on the wall with a mounting bracket.

Finding the “right” flow aid also depends on the type of material, or the size of the silo or hopper. We can provide a customized proposal based on your process. 

Contact us to find an affordable and reliable solution to arching, bridging and other material blocks. 

Control Concepts and AirSweep partner with Kansas State University Bulk Solids Innovation Center

Control Concepts Inc. announced it will provide AirSweep® units to the Kansas State University Bulk Solids Innovation Center (K-State BSIC), as part of a partnership to train students and professionals on how to handle bulk materials. Through this donation, AirSweep – a material flow leader – aims to provide professionals with hands-on experience and tested solutions to material blocks.

Students observe the role of pneumatic flow aids on material flow at the Kansas State University Bulk Solids Innovation Center.

Designed for on-demand material flow

An AirSweep unit will allow instructors to demonstrate efficient handling of bulk solids and other materials with pneumatic flow aids.

AirSweep technology is particularly effective for materials that can’t be handled by fluidizers and other pneumatic flow aids. Each powerful pulse of the AirSweep nozzle directs a high-pressure, high-volume, 360-degree burst of compressed air or gas, which lifts material back into the flow stream.

AirSweep’s ability to work with many types of bulk solids — from powders, pebbles, to dense or moist compounds — will be particularly useful for observing material flow of different materials. Through proper positioning and timed release, it can create on-demand, first-in/first-out flow to prevent stagnation, spoilage, and other issues that affect product quality and production speed.

Empowering the next generation of plant managers and productivity experts 

The AirSweeps will be used by Kansas State University Bulk Solids Innovation Center to demonstrate material flow.

K-State BSIC is the only university-based, unbiased entity in North America dedicated to improving bulk solids handling.

Aside from the classroom unit, AirSweeps will also be installed at the Center’s 13,000 square-foot lab. This facility is where bulk test materials flow is tested for clients who come from various industries in the US and around the world.

Todd Smith, business and strategy manager for K-State BSIC, welcomes the partnership between the Center and Control Concepts’ AirSweeps.

“We look forward to adding the AirSweeps to our full-scale bins as well as a cut-away unit for use in demos and short-course education. Our Center has the most state-of-the-art facility for bulk solids research and education, and the Airsweep system is an excellent addition for controlling flow of challenging materials.”

Control Concepts Director of Sales Paul Rose sees the partnership as a strategic move for both institutions. “AirSweep is a unique material flow aid that stands in its own category. There’s nothing else on the market that can handle wet, sticky and difficult bulk material flow challenges. The addition of AirSweeps allow the BSIC to round out the solutions they have on offer, so that their clients can make the best-informed decisions for their needs.”

About Control Concepts Inc.

Since 1951, Control Concepts Inc. has helped solve material flow issues in plants around the world. We have tens of thousands of systems installed worldwide, and clients that include both S&P companies and SMEs.            Our patented technologies are used in every industry because they are reliable, cost-effective, and have an amazing track record. We also have the longest warranties in the industry.

When you install a Control Concepts product, you can walk away and focus on other parts of the plant. Our AirSweep® bulk material activation system ensures on-demand material flow, AcoustiClean® Sonic Horns replace manual material clearing, and DAZIC® and RotoGuard® Speed Switches prevent expensive equipment pileup.

For more information:

About K-State Bulk Solids Innovation Center

Kansas State Univerity Builk Solids Innovation Centre Logo

The mission of the K-State Bulk Solids Innovation Center is to support industry by improving technology and knowledge related to powder and bulk solids handling. Services to industry include material properties testing, education classes, product and equipment testing, research, and consulting projects.

Media Contact:

Elena Verlee
For Control Concepts, Inc.

AirSweep Material Flow Aid receives ATEX certification for explosive environments

The AirSweep family of products are ATEX certified.

Control Concepts, Inc. announced that all AirSweep® pneumatic flow aids have been awarded an ATEX certification, based on the assessment of the FTZU Physical-Technical Testing Institute in the Czech Republic.

ATEX (which stands for ATmosphères EXplosibles) is required for all products that are used in explosive environments in the European Union.

An explosive atmosphere can be caused by a variety of substances and chemicals in the air, such as flammable gases, mists or vapours, or fine organic dusts like grain flour or wood. This includes petrochemical industries, underground mining and food production.

“AirSweep is used heavily in these kinds of environments,” says Henry Tiffany, president of Control Concepts, Inc. “It will also help our EU distributors sell our products, because many of their customers require it for their specific applications.” 

The ATEX certification assures customers that AirSweep – the most effective material flow aid for powders, bulk solids, granular materials, moist or sticky materials and more –  has been fully tested and approved to be safe to use in hazardous environments. 

About Control Concepts, Inc.

Since 1951, Control Concepts, Inc. has helped solve material flow issues in plants around the world. We have tens of thousands of systems installed worldwide, and clients that include both S&P companies and SMEs. Our patented technologies are used in every industry because they are reliable, cost-effective, and have an amazing track record and return on investment. We also have the longest warranties in the industry.

When you install a ControI Concepts product, you can walk away and focus on other parts of the plant. Our AirSweep® material activation system ensures on-demand material flow, AcoustiClean® Sonic Horns replaces manual material clearing, and DAZIC® and RotoGuard® Speed Switches prevent expensive equipment pileup.