Increasing global demand for wood pellets has driven facilities to become bigger, handle more inbound material and log more up-time hours. For some operations within their plant, producers have kept pace with these increased demands while in others they have not and as a result have left profits on the table. This panel features presentations about technologies across the pellet production platform including material handling, prolonging wear part lifetimes and delivering both heat and power to the plant that once deployed promise to position producers to get the most out of their facilities.
Dane, your presentation is centered on bad decisions that have been made when choosing conveyor systems for wood pellet plants. What’s the most common problem that you see occur under these circumstances?
I think the greatest mistake is underestimating the importance of good conveyors.
That mindset that all conveyors are equal allows people to buy on price, rather than value. Also, too often the material handling portion of the facility is thought of last in the plant design and as simply a connecting item. Conveying is not a stand-alone item, rather it is an integral part of the production system. The entire system must be designed together just as you would design all the parts of any machine – considering every parts interaction with the others.
What other kinds of issues can an inadequate conveying system cause?
Well, the first and most obvious one everyone thinks of is the downtime caused when inadequate units need repairs. An industrial pellet plant is a huge investment and having that entire asset hamstrung by one bad conveyor is just plain stupid. We have also seen people purposely sacrificing production volumes so they don’t overload their conveyors and break them. We’ve seen huge repair costs and additional parts inventory costs to support weak units. And then the biggest cost is replacing them with the proper units once they finally face the fact that they must do so.
Without giving out too much prior to your presentation at the International Biomass Conference & Expo, what’s the most important piece of advice that you have to give in regard to conveyor selection?
Allow the conveying to be designing in conjunction with the rest of the plant by people with “real world” wood handling experience. I’ve been doing this over 35 years, and we as a group have been perfecting our wood handling conveyors for over 15 years. Everyone tries to choose the best pellet mills and the best hammer mills. Why buy the cheapest conveyors to tie them together?
See Floyd Speak On Wednesday, April 12 (8:30 am – 10:00 am)
Innovative Operational Approaches Available to the Pellet Industry’s Early Adopters