Our drag-chain conveyors are unique in that our paddles do not touch the floors or sidewalls. This design has many advantages—namely, it increases efficiency and decreases wear. However, the design has its challenges in inclines, especially with free-flowing materials flowing around the paddles. But they’re challenges, not roadblocks, and we’ve learned to overcome them.
When working with inclines, capacity immediately becomes a concern with material that does not interlock like biomass. Grain, for example, will flow around the paddles. The material’s angle of inclination—i.e., the angle of the material when it forms a pile—must also be taken into account, whether the material flows or not. The lower the angle, the less material the paddles will hold on an incline. These two characteristics work to derate the conveyor’s capacity to only what it can handle in the incline, not what it can handle in a horizontal section.
There are several things we do to increase the capacity in such situations. We can add scoops to the paddles, which help capture material so it does not all flow off the paddles. We can also increase the speed of the conveyor. These two solutions, alone, have enabled us to convey grain and DDGS with great success. With conveyors that include steep inclines, we may also add a mid-floor to the design. A mid-floor keeps material from flowing over the paddles, helping capture it so the machine works somewhat like a bucket elevator.