Deep Dive Into Bulk Material Handling
Bulk material handling refers to the use of equipment to handle, process, and transport dry bulk materials, such as powders, granules, flakes, chips, and pellets. In processing facilities, bulk material handling systems move raw materials between the stations of the production line and transfer finished goods to the storage and shipping areas. The use of these systems—especially automated ones—is essential to operations in a wide range of processing industries, including chemical, cosmetics, electronics, food and beverage, mining, and textiles.
Components of Bulk Material Handling Systems
Bulk material handling systems consist of several different components, including:
- Hoppers and chutes. These components are typically positioned at the start of the bulk material handling and processing system. Hoppers store bulk material, while chutes feed it into the system.
- Conveying equipment. Conveying equipment transports bulk material through the processing facility and throughout the operation. This equipment can take several forms, including (most commonly) belt conveyors, pneumatic conveyors, chain conveyors, flexible screw conveyors, and bucket elevators.
- Tension or take-up units. Critical to the operation of belt conveyors, tension or take-up units ensure that the system maintains proper belt tension to keep in contact with the drive pulley, allowing for continuous belt movement. Take-up units for small conveyor belts are simple screw units. Medium size systems use a gravity take-up unit which is a counterweight connected to the drive unit. Large systems use a motor-assisted take-up unit.
- Trippers. Trippers are also specific to belt conveyors. These components divert the flow of material in the processing line by creating discharge—i.e., off-loading—points at various locations. Stationary trippers are used for discharging materials at a fixed spot, while mobile trippers are used for applications requiring large material stockpiles, or material distribution over a large area.
- Stackers and reclaimers. As their names suggest, stackers are used for accumulating and storing material in stacks, and reclaimers are used for retrieving material as needed. Traditionally, the two components were employed as individual units. However, in modern bulk material handling and processing systems, stackers and reclaimers are typically combined into a single, multipurpose unit.
Applications of Bulk Material Handling Systems
Bulk material handling systems find application in a wide range of industries, including:
- Cement and stone manufacturing. Cement and stone manufacturing facilities use bulk material handling equipment and systems to facilitate the transfer and processing of heavy materials. By employing these systems, facilities can increase their productivity and decrease the risk of injury due to falling material.
- Mining. The mining industry uses bulk material handling equipment to load/unload, stock, and deliver ore, coal, and other unearthed materials. This equipment is employed in underground, aboveground, and processing plant applications.
- Food and grain processing. Food processing facilities use bulk material handling systems to process and package a variety of food products, including fruits, vegetables, and baked goods. These facilities typically employ belt conveyors or drive chain conveyors. Grain collection, storage, and dispensing operations similarly use bulk material handling conveyors. As both of these industries produce consumable goods, hygienic design and sanitary operation are primary concerns. With these considerations in mind, equipment is generally designed for high durability, easy cleaning, and resistance to dirt and bacteria.
In addition, other industries that utilize bulk material handling systems include chemical manufacturing, lumber and wood, oil and gas, pulp and paper, and recycling.
Bulk Material Handling Solutions From U.S. Tsubaki
Since 1971, U.S. Tsubaki (a subsidiary of Tsubakimoto Chain Company) has served as an industry-leading manufacturer and supplier of high-quality power transmission and motion control products.
We offer a broad range of products—including chains and drag chain assemblies, sprockets, inspection doors, cam clutches, and power cylinders—suitable for use in bulk material handling equipment and systems such as bucket elevators. Our conveyor operations division designs, fabricates, and installs complete material handling and processing systems, as well as provides modification and maintenance services for existing conveyor systems. All products are made in the USA.
To support our products, we offer the following value-added services:
- System optimization
- Installation support
- Personnel training
- Field inspection
- Wear analysis
- Performance tracking
Looking for additional information on high-strength chains for bulk material handling systems? Visit our engineering class drive chain page. To find out more about our product and service offerings and how we can help you with your bulk material handling system needs, contact us or request a quote today.