Pneumatic conveyor triples production throughput - Vac-U-Max

Pneumatic conveyor triples production throughput - Vac-U-Max
As appeared in June 2015 PBE
Copyright CSC Publishing
Case history
A vacuum pneumatic
conveying system reduces a
pool coating company’s
lead times and makes
blender loading and
unloading a breeze.
start-up manufacturer typically
can’t afford a completely
automated material-handling
system, where machines weigh and mix
batches and then dispense finished
products into packages, sealing and
wrapping them for distribution. Instead,
newer manufacturers tend to rely
heavily on manual processes until
production growth is steady, and
founding employees often have to wear
many hats.
At ecoFINISH, a pool coating and
equipmen t co mp an y b as ed in
Warminister, Penn., Mike Monti was
one such employee. In addition to being
business and operations manager,
Monti was also the company’s product
blender, manually loading 160 pounds
per batch of raw polymer powder from
drums into the 55-gallon rotary drum
mixer to blend color recipes for the
company’s chip-, peel-, and scratchresistant thermal spray coating,
Manual loading—time, labor
Manually scooping ingredients into
the blender 5 pounds at a time,
however, was both time and labor
intensive and created dust with each
scoop. When nearing the bottom of a
drum, Monti had to stand on his toes
and stretch to reach the remaining
material. Then, after blending the
ingredients, Monti had to scoop the
final product from the blender into
40-pound boxes for distribution.
“We knew at some point we’d need to
mix larger batches because of our rapid
growth,” says Monti. “To stay ahead of
our orders we wanted a large-scale
blender, but then we had to come up
with a way to load it. There was no way
to get six 160-pound drums dumped
into a blender 6 or 7 feet up in the air; it
had to be done automatically.”
The years of building a strong industry
presence and global distribution
channels had paid off, and the time
was right for ecoFINISH to invest in a
new blender and automated handling
Automated system increases
production, reduces dust
In addition to loading ingredients into
A vacuum-tight blender cover allows ecoFINISH to use the blender as the
pneumatic conveying system’s primary receiver.
the blender, the new system needed to
be able to unload the blended product
from the blender and load it into
boxes. After checking out various
suppliers, Monti decided to go with
VAC-U-MAX, a Belleville, N.J.,
supplier of pneumatic systems and
support equipment for conveying,
weighing, and batching dry materials.
To ensure the system would work as
planned, ecoFINISH sent samples of
its materials to the supplier’s 6,000square-foot test facility with full-scale
vacuum conveying systems that
simulate a customer’s site conditions.
Testing made clear that a dual-purpose
system that uses the same conveying
line to load and unload the blender
would be the most economical and
efficient option. “Our application is not
typical in the industry, but it was similar
to something they’d done somewhere
else,” Monti says. “The knowledge
they brought from the other project
saved us quite a bit of money.”
The company chose to use the
supplier’s direct charge blender
loading, which is designed specifically
for loading a blender, mixer, reactor, or
any vessel capable of withstanding a
vacuum. The system has a 3-
Copyright CSC Publishing
horsepower motor, a vacuum-tight
blender, flexible input and output
pipes, a wand for loading ingredients,
scales, and a wall-mounted collection
hopper for discharging the finished
To begin, an operator places an
ingredient drum on a scale and uses
the wand to load the amount required
by the recipe into the blender.
Because the system moves the
powder pneumatically from the
drums into the blender, there’s no dust
released into the environment during
loading. Once the correct amount of
each ingredient is loaded into the
blender, the vacuum system is
disconnected from the blender, and
ingredients are mixed.
After the ingredients are mixed, the
conveying line is connected to a
discharge at the bottom of the blender,
and the finished product is conveyed
into a collection hopper. When the
material in the hopper reaches a
predetermined level, the system stops
conveying and the operator manually
discharges the material into a box
below the hopper. The 3-horsepower
motor allows ecoFINISH to load up
to 2,000 pounds an hour.
The new direct charge loading system allows the company to load and
unload the blender with one system.
“We knew at some point we’d
need to mix larger batches
because of our rapid growth.”
Copyright CSC Publishing
The new vacuum system elim inated the need to manually scoop
material from the blender into
Single system saves time, money
With the new system, the company is
able to mix 1,000 pounds of material at
a time. “That would have taken three
days to weigh out, blend, package, and
get to shelves,” Monti says. “Now we
can do it all in one day.”
“It’s a simple system that drastically
changed things for the better.”
The installation has allowed
ecoFINISH to increase production and
meet demand with just one new
“The need to mix more material at
one time was the driving force behind
us getting the larger blender, and the
new dual-purpose system makes the
p r o c e s s m o r e e rg o n o m i c , l e s s
physically taxing, and cleaner,”
An operator uses a wand to pneumatically pull powder into the
blender, eliminating dust being
released into the environment
during loading.
Monti says. “It’s a simple system that
drastically changed things for the
Note: Find more information on this
topic in articles listed under “Pneumatic conveying” in Powder and Bulk
Engineering’s article index in the
December 2014 issue or the Article
Archive on PBE’s website, www (All articles listed
in the archive are available for free
download to registered users.)
Belleville, NJ
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