Some powders and bulk solids can be more difficult to manage after storage or time at rest. The material tends to clump, agglomerate, or cake on the sides of the storage bin or vessel. The problems can be aggravated by plant conditions, and create problems during the production and packaging of the final product.
AirSweep can address some of the common material flow problems in a warehouse or production facility.
Powders can cake or clump when they are stored or packaged. Compressive forces release the air trapped between particles, and cause the material to settle and become more compact.
This was the problem faced by a regional asphalt manufacturer. “Over the weekend, when the plant was unstaffed, the materials would settle completely. When workers returned on Monday, they had to climb seven meters down into the dark silo, and clear thick layers of compacted material just to get the factory running again,” said Rolando Cavazos, Sales Manager of AirSweep distributor BMH Equipos.
After four years of hammering and trying ineffective flow aids like vibrators, the asphalt manufacturer installed the AirSweep system. The powerful air pulses broke the materials’ cohesive bonds, for instant and reliable flow.
Bridging and Ratholing
Many ingredients used in the food industry have a high oil content. Bridging and ratholing can occur when these are transferred from storage into hoppers and other vessels.
A chocolate manufacturer handles hundreds of pounds of cocoa every day. The fine powder would clog the vessels, and bin activators and fluidizers were ineffective. Every four days, it would pause production so workers could manually scrape off the powder. Aside from causing delays, this led to big spills that coated everyone in chocolate. “It turned you into a giant cocoa puff,” said the coatings manager.
Once the AirSweep system was installed, the plant went from downtime every 3 or 4 days to “no breakdowns, replacements, or any problems whatsoever.” They were even able to add two production shifts per month.
Stagnant material can spoil, decay, or compromise a product formula. This is common in a core flow or channel flow pattern, where powders at the side drop-down at a slower rate than the powder in the center.
AirSweep can help achieve mass flow, so all materials exit the vessel in a first-in/first-out flow pattern. We conducted a material flow test with fish powder, a material that has a tendency to clump and cake in humid environments. To demonstrate AirSweep’s effectiveness, water was even added to the fish powder to show on-demand material flow.
Plugging in the Outlet
When material blocks a vessel outlet, production can slow down or even stop completely. A mineral processing plant had issues with transferring material into supersacks. Despite the steep slopes of vessels, the fine powders and pebbles would still plug the vessel. It took an hour to fill each sack, and workers had to hit the bins with sledgehammers.
The AirSweep system eliminated all plugging of the outlets and cut the filling time of supersacks from one hour to two minutes. An additional forklift driver was even hired to keep up with the increase in production.
AirSweep is used in production and warehouse facilities around the world to improve material flow of even the most problematic materials. Contact us to get a customized proposal for your material and process.