In many processing facilities, the grinding or milling of products is a key element in the process. However, transportation and conveying are often an afterthought to the design and implementation of the production process. Many times, conveying is added or altered due to increased production capacity, or changes in the production process. Whatever the reason, often the planning of conveyor selection and design doesn’t receive the consideration it deserves, thereby making it a ripe target for many of the problems that a processing facility with a focus on milling can face.
Just in January of 2013, society saw a focus on controlling the risk of explosions within hammer mills, with much of the risk associated with these dangerous dust explosions being placed directly on the shoulders of the process that creates the dust in the first place: bucket elevators and pneumatic conveying systems.
A balancing game
These systems produce dust as a result of their daily operation, thus, when using bucket elevators or pneumatic systems, decreasing the risk of dust explosions now requires additional technology and sensors, as well as safety personnel and dedicated cleanup staff. These advances in technology and the increase in regulations, codes and standards have increased the safety in plants and have reduced the occurrence of dust explosions; but one big problem still exists: they do not address the underlying issue of dust. These means of conveying inherently generate dust, and without first addressing this issue, preventing the risk of dust explosions will always be played as a game of ‘catch-up’.
Dust control plays a critical part in the conveying puzzle. If a transport system is not specifically designed to prevent the proliferation of explosive dust, the processing facility must play a dangerous balancing game between funding additional technology and adding labor force. Cutting corners on either, and you will risk dangerous explosions that can damage machinery and, most importantly, your workforce. System explosions pose a huge problem to the milling industry. Over the years, solutions have been sought in varying conveying systems such as bucket, screw, and drag, dilute and dense-phase pneumatic. While each system has its strengths and weaknesses, none control nor reduce the generation of dust.
The superior solution
To address the problem of dust generation, Modern Process Equipment (MPE) of Chicago, IL, USA has developed the Chain-Vey, a tubular drag chain system that utilizes molded on, food-grade discs pulled by a 316 stainless steel chain through a stainless steel tube. The result? A fully enclosed conveying design that contains dust and reduces product degradation through gentle and energy-efficient conveying. As a point of reference, the Chain-Vey acts similarly to a bucket elevator, gently carrying segments of product from one location to another. More specifically, the Chain-Vey offers a multitude of additional advantages including:
- Completely enclosed design
- Flexible design configurations
- Long conveying distance capability
- Multiple inlets and discharge points
- Few moving parts and low maintenance
- Energy efficiency
[This post is an excerpt from the article “The Missing Link” written by MPE’s Product Line Manager John Eiting originally published in Grain & Feed in April 2013]