Category Archive: News and Information
The production process involves several interconnected steps. Any problems in one stage often create a domino effect, causing more delays and incurring more costs. Control Concepts, Inc. offers proven bulk product handling technology that improves plant efficiency and productivity that can be used individually or integrated to reduce downtime, material waste, and safety hazards.
AirSweep for on-demand material flow
Poor material flow can lead to several problems that can affect a plant’s productivity and a company’s bottom line.
- Lower productivity. When the flow stops, so does the entire production line.
- Smaller vessel capacity. Stagnant material can reduce the amount of material that can flow in and out of the vessel.
- Material spoilage and waste. Inconsistent material flow can lead to stagnant and spoiled material or inconsistent batches that need to be thrown away.
- Worker safety hazards. Workers have to manually clear material from vessels and may be unnecessarily exposed to hazardous materials.
Prevent these problems with AirSweep. It releases powerful air pulses that push material into the flow stream, leading to steady, on-demand flow.
AirSweep is proven effective for materials with challenging flow properties, such as powders that tend to clump or moist and sticky mixes that stick to vessel walls.
Many customers say that AirSweep was the only flow aid that worked for them—they tried fluidizers, vibrators, and air cannons, but still had to manually clear material. But once they installed AirSweep, they never had to worry about material blocks again.
DAZIC for preventing material pile-up
Many processes involve moving tons of material at a time. If any of the equipment malfunctions, that could mean massive spillage—and a mountain of problems.
- Days of downtime. Equipment must be turned off until the material pile-up is cleared. Workers have to manually clear the material, or sit around and wait until production resumes.
- Material waste. In some cases, the material is too contaminated to reuse and must be thrown away.
- Safety hazards. Workers may be exposed to toxic or hazardous materials.
DAZIC zero speed switches can help prevent material pileups and detect machine failure. They are attached to rotating shafts and send an alarm when there is an abnormal change in rotation speed.
DAZIC speed switches are affordable, efficient, and durable. Many clients are still using the switches they installed over a decade ago, and have never had any incidents of material pile-ups.
The speed switches can be installed on any equipment with a rotating shaft, such as rotary valves, bucket elevators, belt and screw conveyors, saw blades, and drive motors.
AcoustiClean for clearing powder build-up
Powder build-up can clog pipes and affect equipment efficiency, and even create potentially flammable environments. Manual cleaning takes too long, and may even be impractical or impossible for some plant set-ups.
AcoustiClean sonic horns can clear powder build-up quickly and easily—and will never damage even fragile equipment. It releases sound vibrations that can disperse particles even in blind spots that mechanical blowers and rapping systems miss.
Integrated solutions for maximum plant efficiency
AirSweep, DAZIC, and AcoustiClean can work together to control material flow, clean residue, and prevent build-up—as seen in this diagram of a co-gen plant.
Find the right bulk product handling system for your needs
Control Concepts, Inc. can customize a bulk product handling system for your particular material, vessel, and process. Contact us so we can discuss your needs and provide you with a customized diagram.
In the manufacturing process, production speed and product quality heavily depend on reliable material flow. That means materials flow smoothly, in a first in/first out pattern. However, bulk materials have a tendency to clump together, cling to vessel walls, or form large material blocks that restrict the discharge outlets. Flow can slow down, or even stop completely. Here are the most common types of material blocks, and the only flow aid you need to prevent them.
Bridging / arching
As the name implies, materials form a large bridge or arch right above the vessel outlet. This happens when the particles interlock and bond together, and need an external force to break it up and restore the flow.
There are two types of bridging or arching:
- Interlocking arch. The particles mechanically interlock, like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.
- Cohesive arch. The particles are bonded together because of moisture, temperature, or the concentration of fines.
The strength of the bridge or the arch depends on the material’s inherent cohesive strength and the internal friction of the particles. For example, very fine powders like flour may respond to gentle aeration. However, cocoa powder or titanium dioxide—which has a tendency to clump and aggregate—will need more powerful, concentrated air pulses.
Ratholing occurs when materials accumulate along the vessel walls, leaving only a small flow channel right above the outlet. This creates two problems: the flow slows down, and stagnant material stays in the vessel. Without first in/first out flow, manufacturers run the risk of spoilage and contamination.
Furthermore, if the material has cohesive properties, it will cake and agglomerate instead of flowing out of the vessel. Eventually, the channel closes up and the flow completely stops.
Granular materials can segregate because of differences in size, shape, and density. This can occur during crushing and grinding, transportation, storage, and mixing.
Segregation is especially critical in the chemical, pharmaceutical, and food industries when materials must be mixed in exact proportions to protect product integrity. For example, a supplement needs a precise balance of vitamins and minerals that is declared on the nutrition label—otherwise, the company could be slapped with a fine and be forced to recall entire batches that don’t meet the specs.
The “perfect” material flow
The gold standard of material flow is mass flow, which has the following characteristics:
- Steady, uniform flow with a consistent bulk density
- First in / first out – no stagnant material
- Controlled discharge rates with no issues of stopping or flooding
AirSweep: achieve reliable material flow
AirSweep is a pneumatic flow aid. It uses powerful, 360-degree air pulses to break apart material blocks and sweep material back into the flow stream.
And when material flows, so do productivity and profits.
- Reduce downtime from manually clearing material blocks or flushing vessels between product batches
- Improve product consistency and quality by preventing stagnant material and segregation
- Avoid material waste from throwing away contaminated material or inconsistent batches
AirSweep also lowers maintenance costs, because it uses less energy and does not damage vessels like other flow aids such as vibrators and fluidizers.
Get a customized proposal for your process
There is no “one size fits all” setup to prevent material blocks. We can customize an AirSweep system where nozzles are positioned at the right place, and release the right sequence of pulses, to move material efficiently.
Contact us to find out more about how AirSweep works, and how it can help improve your process.
Mined materials are one of the most critical components of the manufacturing industry. They are used to make thousands of commodities, from automobiles to electronics, and even medicines and household cleaning products. The mobile phone alone uses 42 different minerals—not including what is used for its packaging (paper and plastic need minerals, too!)
You can mine it… but can’t you move it?
However, mined materials have poor flow properties that can pose challenges during storage, processing, and packaging.
For example, hydrated lime—one of the most common components of cement production—is sluggish and has a tendency to pack, bridge, or rathole.
Wet materials such as damp sand or Diatomaceous earth can cling to vessel walls and plug the outlets.
Minerals with irregular particles can also segregate if they have a different hardness, grade, or size. Even after they are carefully screened and processed to a more consistent form, the particles can still interlock.
The best flow aid for mined materials
It’s important to choose a flow aid that can handle mined materials’ unique characteristics. Fluidizers can only activate powders that respond to light aeration. Vibrators can cause some minerals to become more compact. Air cannons still leave residue on vessel walls, and the air tends to “channel” through holes in the material, greatly diminishing effectiveness.
That’s why many companies switched to AirSweep. The powerful air pulses can improve the flow of any mined material—from fine powders to heavy rocks.
AirSweep increases productivity
A leading processor of industrial minerals handles more than 120,000 tons of material every year. However, their biggest challenge was transferring the processed material. It took over an hour to fill one supersack, and workers still had to hammer the vessels.
AirSweep cut that filling time from one hour to two minutes—a 3000% increase in productivity. Production volume increased to the point that an additional forklift driver was hired to keep up with the output.
AirSweep saves money
A cement company had issues with shale clogging the silos. They tried air knockers and vibrators, but workers still had to manually clear the vessels—losing $12,000 per hour of downtime.
AirSweep was the only flow aid that cleared all material build-up, and it used half the energy of air knockers. Since the cost per KWH was very high in their country, the electricity savings alone brought a great return on investment.
The proof is in the flow
AirSweep is used in thousands of plants around the world and has been proven effective for even the most problematic mined materials. Watch this material flow test on powdered hydrated lime.
AirSweep in the mined materials industry
Visit this page to find more case studies and videos on how AirSweep is being used to activate mined materials or contact us for more information and a customized quote.
Bulk material handling is an essential part of any industrial or manufacturing process. Raw materials must be delivered to a factory, unloaded into storage facilities, and then poured into silos, hoppers, and other vessels for processing. Automated bulk material handling can make these processes more efficient. Here are some of the latest technology that can help move material in a faster, safer, and even cheaper way.
Automated guided vehicles (AGVs)
AGVs are self-propelled vehicles that can move large volumes of material along a defined pathway, like receiving to the warehouse or straight to the production lines. They can replace manually-operated forklifts and carts, or be used in areas that can’t be reached by conveyor systems.
The AGVs are guided by software and sensors. They can be programmed to run at specific times or stages during the production cycle so that materials are delivered whenever they are needed, without interruption.
There are many different kinds of AGVS: forklifts, carts, towing vehicles, and unit load handlers for small items.
Automated Storage & Retrieval System (AS/RS)
AS/RS systems handle, store, and retrieve materials in warehouses and other storage facilities. This can include automated carousels, vertical lifts, shuttles, and other machines that can lift heavy loads.
AS/RS can maximize storage space, reduce damage to products, and improve inventory control. Since fewer people are required to move items, companies can also tighten security and limit who can access the warehouse and other storage areas.
Warehouses need to follow a first in/first out system so that materials don’t spoil. However, new shipments are usually placed on top of the stack, so it’s hard to track where the oldest materials are.
Smart warehouse technology systems use coordinated routing, tracking, and control systems to show employees which box or bag must be used next. This includes a consolidated Warehouse Management System (WMS), automated picking tools, and automated inventory control platforms.
Aside from preventing spoilage, these new bulk material handling technologies reduce the cost of manpower and improve demand forecasting.
Machine monitoring prevents shutdowns caused by machine failure.
Sensors alert operators of any problems in mixers, grinders, or conveyors. For example, the material got wet and stuck to the machine, or the scales malfunctioned and overloaded the vessel.
Sensors can also detect vibrations, unbalanced loads, and temperatures of the bearings. While it won’t be able to diagnose the problem, automated monitoring allows operators to troubleshoot and do preventive maintenance.
The sensors are actually required in industries that work with fine powders or other flammable materials that could be ignited by excessive friction in machine parts.
Some sensors have been around for more than a decade, and are proven effective in preventing plant accidents. DAZIC zero speed switches can be attached to conveyors, bucket elevators, and other equipment in a material conveyor system. It detects abnormal changes in speed that could lead to material pileup.
Material flow aids
Poor or irregular material flow slows down production and compromises batch consistency. Stagnant material can also lower the storage capacity of silos and hoppers and may deteriorate and spoil.
Traditionally, workers would have to manually clear material with hammers and pick-axes. However, modern material flow aids like AirSweep can prevent material blocks from occurring.
AirSweep releases powerful air pulses that move stagnant material back into the flow stream. It can be used during processing to ensure first-in / first-out flow, or after processing to flush the vessels clean before the next batch.
Here’s how the AirSweep system allows automated bulk material handling:
Contact us to find out more about AirSweep and other products that can improve your bulk material handling.
Material bridging in a hopper can slow down production and reduce bulk storage space. The stagnant material can spoil or become contaminated, and workers have to clear the vessel and throw out compromised batches.
What is material bridging?
Bridging is the material block that forms above the discharge outlet of a hopper, silo, or any bulk material handling equipment.
The bridge is caused by friction on the vessel walls which slows down the flow of material. Eventually, the material particles start to bind and interlock, until it partially or completely blocks the discharge outlet.
The bridge is so strong that it can support the weight of material above it. New material can condense the trapped material further and strengthen the bonds.
Types of material bridging
- Mechanical bridging. Particles mechanically interlock, like jigsaw puzzles. This usually happens for particles that are larger than 3mm.
- Cohesive bridging. Particles compress until they bind together. This usually happens for smaller particles, especially those that attract moisture.
What causes material bridging in the hopper?
Material bridging can be caused by the hopper design, the material’s flow properties, and the conditions in the plant.
Ideally, the hopper design should reduce friction and encourage flow. However, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Solids and liquids behave differently, and materials have unique properties that can also vary in different conditions. These factors have to be considered while choosing the hopper’s angle, and the outlet’s shape and diameter.
Some materials are simply more prone to bridging and arching. This includes:
- Moist and sticky materials
- Materials that tend to settle during storage
- Materials with a high cohesive strength
- Hygroscopic powders that attract moisture
- Pellets that soften and form soft clumps
- Fibers that can entangle
- Irregular particles that can interlock
- Heavy materials that can push down on stagnant material and cause it to compress
Fluctuating temperatures can affect the stress on the hopper walls and the material flow properties. Moisture in the air can cause materials to expand and compress. Gas in the air can also permeate through powders and fill empty spaces.
The best solution for material bridging in the hopper
Flow aids solve bridging and other material blocks by breaking up the cohesive bonds in the material. However, not all flow aids can do this safely or effectively.
Manual cleaning—where workers hammer the vessel or enter the hopper to clear the build-up with axes and shovels—is slow and dangerous. Some materials release flammable or toxic gases during storage. Workers are also at risk for falls, sprains, health problems from direct exposure to the material, or being hit by falling material.
Vibrators can damage the vessel and can cause some materials to become more compact. Fluidizers can only activate light powders; air cannons are expensive and still leave material residue on walls.
AirSweep is the most cost-effective solution for material bridging in hoppers. It releases powerful air pulses that break up bridging and sweep stagnant material back into the flow stream.
AirSweep engineers customize the system so the units are installed at key areas on the hopper to stimulate first-in/first-out flow. They select the right model for the material and the vessel size. The AirSweep USDA-accepted model is also specially designed for sanitary applications like food, beverage, and pharmaceuticals.
The AirSweep system is energy-efficient. It uses less air than air cannons, and the units pulse in sequence instead of running continuously like vibrators and fluidizers. The units also have a large area of activation and move more material with every pulse.
Find more information about AirSweep, or get a customized quote.
Every industry uses dry bulk materials—whether it be chemical powders, pellets, flakes, mined minerals, raw materials, food, additives, stabilizers, or preservatives.
Each of these materials has its own properties that can affect how they behave while being stored, transported, or processed. And when you’re dealing with tons of materials, the stakes become higher. Any problems will incur huge delays and costs.
Bulk material handling (BMH) equipment can help prevent dry bulk materials handling issues, and improve production efficiency. The right equipment can even help lower costs, and increase plant safety.
Control Concepts, Inc.: Your Partner in Bulk Material Handling
Since 1951, we have helped companies resolve dry bulk materials handling issues. The patented technologies are used in every industry: mining, cement, food, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, mined minerals, and more.
We offer three products for bulk material handling: AirSweep pneumatic flow aids, DAZIC zero speed switches, and AcoustiClean sonic horns. Each of them addresses particular dry bulk materials handling issues to prevent delays, unnecessary costs, and safety risks.
AirSweep for on-demand material flow
Poor material flow is one of the most common dry bulk materials handling issues—and the most problematic. Sluggish flow (or even no flow) can:
- Slow down production
- Compromise batch consistency
- Cause contamination and spoilage
- Lower vessel capacity
- Increase material waste
- Create flammable environments
AirSweep uses powerful air pulses that break up material blocks and sweep stagnant material back into the flow stream. Unlike other flow aids like vibrators and air cannons (or the old-fashioned method of hitting the vessel with a hammer), it does not cause metal fatigue.
AirSweep has been proven effective for all types of dry bulk materials, including damp powders, plastic flakes, fibers like tobacco, pellets, and irregular particles like mined materials. It also has lower energy and maintenance costs than other flow aids, and can easily be removed from the vessel for cleaning with simple tools.
DAZIC zero speed switch to prevent material pileup
If a conveyor belt or bucket elevator fails, tons of material can spill over and pile up. Workers will need days to clean it up, and companies will need to face production losses and additional manpower costs.
Spilled material can also create safety risks, especially if it is heavy, flammable, or classified as a toxic chemical. That is why OSHA and other safety organizations require plants to take precautionary measures for machine failure and spills.
DAZIC zero speed switches are very affordable but can prevent very expensive and dangerous material pileups. They are attached to equipment to detect any abnormal change in rotation speed. If the equipment speeds up, slows down, or stops completely, DAZIC sends a signal to the operator to shut it down.
DAZIC can be attached to any bulk material handling equipment with a rotating shaft, such as
- Rotary valves
- Bucket elevators
- Belt, drag, and screw conveyors
- Saw blades
- Drive motors
- Rolling mills
AcoustiClean Sonic Horns to clear light material buildup
Light powders can accumulate on surfaces and hard-to-reach areas. This can cause contamination issues, affect the efficiency of the vessel, or create potentially flammable environments.
AcoustiClean Sonic Horns produce high-energy, low-frequency sound vibrations that disperse dry material. Compressed air is applied to a sound generator, which vibrates a titanium diaphragm. The sound waves clear the material, to clean your material handling equipment.
AcoustiClean can be integrated into the system to automatically clean the surface between production runs. It reduces plant shutdowns, prevents cross-contamination during production, replaces dangerous and expensive manual cleaning, and improves energy/heat transfer efficiency and lifespan of machines.
Bulk Material Handling Solutions
AirSweep, DAZIC, and AcoustiClean can prevent many dry bulk materials handling issues. For more information, or to get a customized quote contact us.
Reliable material flow is critical for efficient bulk material processing. Material blocks slow down production and waste time and money. Stagnant material can also be contaminated or affect batch consistency.
So, the biggest challenge of bulk material processing is to achieve on-demand, first-in/first-out material flow. Unfortunately, that is easier said than done.
Why is it hard to achieve reliable material flow?
There is no single, simple formula for achieving good material flow. You have to consider many factors, some of which cannot be controlled or changed.
- Some materials have problematic flow patterns, because of their chemical or molecular structure, weight, and how they react to moisture.
- Cohesive and adhesive force, which cause particles to stick together and block the discharge
- Cohesive strength and internal friction affect how strong the material block is
- Bulk density, which affects how easily it flows because of gravity
- Particle size and shape
- Tendency to absorb moisture
- Angle of repose, which is directly related to the flow rate
- Flow patterns are difficult to predict. Product formulas will include a variety of materials, which all have their own particle characteristics and densities. If a company decides to change its formula it can encounter a material flow problem.
- Some vessels are not designed for efficient material flow. The slope or angle of the vessel and the size and shape of the discharge outlet can affect the rate of flow. Unfortunately, not all equipment is customized for the flow properties of the materials.
- Plant humidity and moisture can affect materials. This is especially true for countries with high humidity or materials that are hygroscopic or have a tendency to attract moisture.
- Material flow problems can occur at any stage of bulk material processing. Some materials can settle and become compact during storage, while others will flow well until it is mixed with other materials.
What are the most common material flow problems?
The most common bulk material processing problems are bridging, ratholing, and segregation.
Bridging occurs when material forms a large arch above the vessel discharge and stops the material flow. It can be caused by large particles interlocking, or smaller particles bonding together because of the moisture, temperature, particle shape, or concentration of fines.
Ratholing occurs when stagnant material builds up on the vessel walls and thus restricting the passage of materials. Aside from slowing down the flow, it also causes material waste and possible contamination.
Segregation is the uneven distribution of components of bulk material because of differences in their physical or chemical properties. This can lead to inconsistent formulas, which can affect product quality and safety.
What can improve material for bulk material processing?
AirSweep eliminates bridging, ratholing, material segregation, and other flow problems. It guarantees on-demand, first in/first out flow, and has lower energy and maintenance costs than other flow aids.
AirSweep is used in thousands of bulk material processing plants worldwide. It is proven effective for even moist, sticky, and heavy materials, and has helped many customers increase production, lower costs, and protect product quality.
Contact us for more information about AirSweep, and how it can benefit your plant operations.
AcoustiClean Sonic Horns provide several material flow benefits that plant managers need. AcoustiClean Sonic Horns produce high-energy, low-frequency sound vibrations that disperse dry material. It can help clean vessels and equipment like silos, hoppers, heaters, and fans to minimize downtime and material build-up.
Sonic horns are often used in industries like cement, petrochemical, and power generation. However, it can benefit any process where material build-up can occur.
AcoustiClean reaches blind spots
Manual cleaning can be tedious, time-consuming, or even impossible in inaccessible areas. AcoustiClean’s powerful sound vibrations can clear out material in seconds, even in equipment that is hard to clean (i.e, pipes or baghouses) or are in hard-to-reach locations. It can also reach blind spots that mechanical soot blowers and rapping systems often miss.
No equipment damage
Unlike other cleaning systems that use pressurized air, sound vibrations don’t damage sensitive equipment like tubes.
Customizable for different environments
AcoustiClean can be made of either stainless steel or cast iron. Stainless steel can be sanitized easily and is suitable for food and sanitary applications. Cast iron can withstand temperatures up to 2000ºF.
A manufacturer of building materials sends waste materials like wood flakes and wet bark to a boiler furnace. However, the soot build-up affected the boiler’s heat transfer efficiency and clogged the equipment.
They tried installing soot blowers, but these melted in the furnace’s high temperatures. The pressurized air also damaged the tubes, further adding to their equipment costs.
The manufacturer replaced soot blowers with AcoustiClean Sonic Horns and saw instant results. With the soot removed, the furnace temperatures remained steady and allowed optimum production time.
AcoustiClean is Versatile
AcoustiClean Sonic Horns can be mounted and hung on practically any kind of equipment.
- Baghouse Filters
- Super Heaters
- Air Heaters
- ID Fans
The AcoustiClean system is designed to be efficient and very easy to maintain. The only parts that need to be replaced are the sound generators (every few years) and the titanium diaphragm (the only moving part, which is replaced yearly).
Contact us for more information about AcoustiClean Sonic horns, and how they can benefit your plant operations.
If you already have a material flow aid, are you happy with it? Our ebook, The Top 5 Bulk Material Flow Aids: Pros, Cons, and Calculating ROI, is a must-read if you are struggling with your current flow aid and need to find a solution that works for you.
This ebook covers:
- Pros and cons of different flow aids
- Hidden costs of energy consumption, maintenance, and manpower hours
- How companies have saved thousands of dollars after using AirSweep
- And more
You can download the ebook here. If you have any questions about AirSweep and other material flow aids, please contact us.
Fluidizers are one of the most common material flow aids. They are cheap, easy to find, and often come pre-installed in vessels. But are they really effective? Turns out they are not. In this article, we cover why AirSweep is better than a fluidizer.
Fluidizers activate material with a combination of gentle aeration and vibration. The rubber discs are installed inside the hopper, bolted into place, and attached to air piping. The air causes the discs to flap and vibrate, causing air to radiate out. However, fluidizers aren’t the best flow aid to use for a variety of reasons.
Fluidizers don’t work for most powders and solids
Fluidizers work for very light powders like flour. However, they will not work on powders that are hygroscopic (or have a tendency to attract moisture) or powders with high fat or moisture content.
For example, R.M. Palmer—a candy manufacturer in Reading, Pennsylvania—had issues with cocoa powder packing and bridging in the hoppers. Cocoa powder has a 12% oil content.
Despite installing fluidizers, bin aerators, and vibrators, the company’s workers still had to scrape material off the vessel walls every three or four days. It was costing them time and money.
After trying so many different flow aids, the plant manager had grown skeptical. “A lot of manufacturers say their product will work but they don’t back it up,” Wieland said.
Fluidizers are expensive to use
While the initial cost of fluidizers may be low, the operating costs and losses from downtime are very high.
Since it has a small effective radius, you need to continuously operate several units to activate the material. This can lead to high energy consumption, which is very significant for countries where electricity is expensive.
Fluidizers are difficult to clean and maintain
The rubber discs, which are installed inside the vessels, can also trap material. They are difficult to clean, and can’t be exposed to some kinds of cleaning chemicals. This can create hygiene and sanitation issues—a big problem for industries like food and beverage, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and personal care.
How AirSweep is better than a fluidizer
That doesn’t mean that pneumatic flow aids can’t activate material. You just have to choose the right one.
AirSweep uses powerful air pulses that break up material blocks. It is effective for all materials—even moist powders, sticky compounds, or heavy bulk solids.
In fact, it was the only flow aid that solved R. M. Palmer’s material flow problem. After installing two AirSweep VA-06 units on the hoppers, the company has had “no breakdowns, replacements, or any problems whatsoever.” They were even able to add two production shifts per month, increasing output.
Wieland saw for himself how AirSweep was different from all other flow aids he had tried.
“AirSweep has a stronger air pulse than the bin aerators or fluidizers we previously installed. The air moves the powder down in a very large column so the powder doesn’t stick to the walls,” said Wieland.
Get the most powerful and cost-effective flow aid
AirSweep activates more material while using less energy. It is also easy to maintain and comes with the longest warranty in the business.
Contact us to find out more about how AirSweep can help improve your plant’s productivity while lowering your costs.