Dimensioning a conveying system for bulk materials

When considering the installation of a new vacuum conveying system for the handling of granular bulk materials, there is a checklist of questions that need answering.

When considering the installation of a new vacuum conveying system for the handling of granular bulk materials, there is a checklist of questions that need answering, according to Thomas Dahl, strategic sales OEM for the material handling division of Piab AB. The designer of the system will need the answers in order to dimension, design and assemble a system that suits the application.

1) What material?: The designer needs to know the bulk density of the material; i.e., how much it weighs in kilograms per liter (kg/l). It is also important to establish an approximate size for individual particles in the material, measured in micrometers (µm).

2) How clean?: In order to choose the right type of equipment for the conveying system, the designer also needs to know what their client requires in terms of cleanliness of the transported material.

3) How far?: Spatial data regarding the transportation system itself is also vital. The designer has to know how far the material needs to be transported.

4) What capacity?: The capacity, throughput, or flow rate of the system is next on the designer’s list of questions. The capacity is measured in tons per hour and, together with the respective vertical and horizontal distances, it provides the designer with a figure that is used to select a pump for the system.

5) Any risks?: To avoid dust explosions, specialized equipment may be required for materials prone to developing static electricity. Compliance with industrial standards included in regulations such as the EU ATEX Directive is an essential part of the design work.

6) Test it?: An experienced designer will have no problem dimensioning and building a vacuum-based conveying system for common materials. However, faced with unfamiliar materials or perhaps extreme spatial constraints, the designer may decide to test the system in-house before it is implemented at the client’s premises.

Having ticked off all the questions on the checklist, the designer is ready to set to work building a system fit for purpose. Furnished with all the necessary information regarding: the fluidity, bulk density, and particle size of the material; the horizontal and vertical distances in the available space; the desired capacity; any special requirements concerning cleanliness or potential risks; and results from a potential trial run, the designer can choose the right vacuum conveyor for the job.

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