Choosing the Right Conveyor – Part 5

The Latest Conveyor Technology

This is Part 5 in a series on choosing conveyors. For the previous article on designing your system, click here.

We regularly post pictures of mechanical drag conveyors from the late 19th century and early 20th century on social media. What impresses us about these images is that many drag chain conveyors offered in today’s market—more than 100 years later—look no different. Unfortunately, many engineers and operation personnel don’t know about the advances in conveyor design that have transpired during past decades. Thus, they continually rely on outdated technology that underperforms instead of conveyors designed to meet the requirements of 21st century industry.

Consider the images below. First pictured are photos and advertisements of conveyors from the late 1800s to early 1900s. After these are photos of conveyors used in present-day applications.

19th- and Early 20th-Century Drag Conveyors: Chain and Trough Design

Edwart's Patent Drive Chain Conveyor - 1885

Image from "Lumber, It's Manufacture and Distribution" - 1922 - 20th Century Drag Chain Conveyors

Image from Canadian Forest Industries - 1917 - 20th century drag chain conveyor

Image from Canadian Forest Industries - 1924 - Dual drag chain conveyor from early 20th century

“Modern” Drag Chain Conveyors: Chain and Trough Design

“Modern” 21st century Chain Conveyor

“Example of a "modern” Chain Conveyor

"Modern” Chain Conveyor

Early 20th-Century Drag Conveyor: Support Design

Image from Material Handling Cyclopedia - 1921

“Modern” Drag Chain Conveyors: Support Design

“Modern” Drag Conveyor - Ash Handling

“Modern” Drag Conveyor at a Chinese power plant

Early 20th-Century Drag Conveyors: Paddle and Trough Design

Image from Material Handling Cyclopedia - 1921 - drag conveyor scraper design with roller chains.

Image from Material Handling Cyclopedia - 1921 - paddle conveyor

“Modern” Drag Chain Conveyors: Paddle and Trough Design

"Modern" Drag Chain Conveyor with paddles

"Modern" Drag Chain Conveyor with bars for lime recovery.

"Modern drag chain conveyor

"Modern" drag chain conveyor with paddles

"Modern" drag chain conveyor with paddles.

"Modern" drag chain conveyor.

Comparing 19th- and Early 20th Century Technology to “Modern” Conveyors

The similarities between century-old conveyors and the modern examples is obvious. There are many conveyors being installed that are virtually no different from century-old technology. There are, of course, conveyors available on the market better than the examples above. There are many drag conveyors, for example, which utilize UHMW to reduce friction. But besides the better material, many of these conveyors have not been comprehensively improved: they rely largely on the chain-in-a-box design that invites wear and inefficiency.

Drag conveyors historically have been typically little more than one or two chains that run through a box. The problem with this design is that the chains assemblies and panels wear on each other—the chain or paddles on the bottom panels and vice-versa. Running steel chains and paddles on steel panels increases friction in the system, as well, and reduces the efficiency. Conveyors that rely on UHMW paddles decrease wear and friction, but the systematic flaw remains—wear and friction occur because the components contact each other.

Our design amends this. Rather than running our chains along the bottom of the conveyor, we run them in channels lined with UHMW wear strips outside the material path. This provides a low-friction and low-wear surface for the chains to run over and allows us to lift the paddles so they don’t touch the bottom or side panels, which further reduces friction and wear.

Besides innovations to how we carry the chains and paddles, we further innovated by equipping our conveyors with toothed paddles, the specific design of which is selected for the application. The toothed design ensures that coarse material doesn’t get stuck under the paddle and drag along the bottom panels.

Comparing Century-Old Technology to Premium, 21st C. Conveyors

Now, compare them with the most advanced drag chain conveyors available in today’s market, SMART Conveyors™ from Biomass Engineering & Equipment:

T-Series SMART Conveyor Section During Assembly in Indiana Factory - Made in the USA

M-Series SMART Conveyor Section, Galvanized - Section

M-Series Chain Conveyor Inside paddles Angle View

Galvanized M-Series SMART Conveyor at Canfor sawmill - premium wood chip conveyors

Section view of S-Series SMART Conveyor for biomass transfer

S-Series SMART Conveyor at Challenger Pallet from Waste Processing to Silo

S-Series SMART Drag Chain Conveyor for conveying DDGS at Cardinal Ethanol in Union City, IN, 2018

Section view of S-Series SMART Conveyor with white paddles - modern material handling

S-Series SMART Conveyor and Horizontal Silo with dust-free receiving at Lockheed Martin gasification tower in Owego, New York

More can be said about our design—the materials used, the design of our sprockets and head sections, and the strength. (Compare the support structure for our SMART Conveyor™ with that of the coal conveyor from 1921. Many modern conveyors still require the extensive support structure of the coal conveyor.) But the point has been made: we’ve designed the most advanced drag chain conveyor on today’s market.

Century-old technology isn’t going to help you compete in the 21st century market. If you want a top-performing business, you need top-performing machines to keep your operation equipment and running efficiently, and that’s what a SMART Conveyor™ will help you do.

Contact us today to discuss how we can make your material handling system perform better with SMART Conveyors™ from Biomass Engineering & Equipment.

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