In this article, we discuss why customers should add optional components to their chain conveyors and how these components benefit their conveyor systems.
What are Options Biomass Engineering & Equipment Offers for their Drag Conveyors?
SMART Conveyors™ are highly customizable, and we have the engineering capabilities to design them to spec. Standard options we supply include:
- Variable heights (three set heights in S-, M-, and T-Series SMART Conveyors™)
- Variable widths (between 18 and 72 inches)
- Extended hoods
- Paddle brushes
- Slide gates/Diversion gates (electric or pneumatic)
- Fast-acting dump gates (“flop gates”)
- Inspection doors with dust seals and screens
- Sample ports
- Conduit supports
- Various finishes (powder coat, galvanized, duplex, stainless steel)
- Wear liners (UHMW, AR, stainless, Tri-Braze™)
- Deluge systems
- Explosion panels
- Zero-speed sensors
Why Would I Need a Taller or Wider Conveyor?
The height and width of a conveyor needs to match the volume and characteristics of the material flowing through it. The wider and taller the conveyor, the greater volume it can handle. Going wider is advantageous in that it allows a conveyor to handle an occasional larger piece, and it allows the material to spread out, which is necessary for voluminous or voluminous materials like shavings and excelsior (wood wool). Nut shells, grasses, bagasse, and stover also fall in this category.
If there is any question about future capacity or problems with the chute width, we encourage you to choose a wider conveyor by way of precaution. Paying slightly more up front for a conveyor that lasts a lifetime is well worth the cost. Stepping up to the next wider conveyor in a series generally costs about 10 percent more.
Do I Need an Extended Hood on my Conveyor?
Extended hoods provide additional airflow in conveyors moving low-density materials. The extra space minimizes disturbance in the material.
Why Add a Slide Gate?
Slide gates are necessary to divert the flow of material to an alternative path in the conveyor system, which customers may need for several reasons. These reasons include the need to divert flow to an emergency bypass system or the need to send material to a specific location under the conveyor.
What sets our slide gates apart is that we designed them to operate with sensors within the actuators rather than limit switches. The benefit to this is that the gate motor does not burn out when it meets an obstruction. With a limit switch, the gate will still attempt to close when an object blocks the opening. With our system, however, the system automatically opens and closes when it meets an obstruction until the obstruction clears or the system reaches a set number of attempts.
In addition, we offer variable flow gates. This allows you to drop a percentage of material through a series of openings.
Why Do I Need Conduit Mounts?
We’ve too often found that plant personnel or unqualified installers will weld conduit to the side of our conveyors. While this may be okay with other manufacturer’s equipment, doing so can damage and ignite the internal plastic liners we use in our SMART Conveyors™. If you need to run conduit along your SMART Conveyor™, we strongly advise you to install our conduit support brackets to do so.
When Should I Galvanize My Conveyor?
Galvanizing mild steel will protect the steel from corrosion. If your SMART Conveyors™ will be handling acidic or highly basic materials, we recommend you opt for a galvanized finish. If the material is also hot, then stainless steel may be necessary. Duplex finishes are available when a customer needs protection beyond a galvanized coat but not stainless steel. A situation that calls for a duplex finish would be a conveyor that is routinely exposed to sea spray.
For a more detailed discussion on finishes, see Comparing Conveyor Finishes: Paint, Powder Coat, Galvanized, Stainless Steel.
When should I Choose a Stainless-Steel Conveyor?
Stainless steel will generally stand up to abrasion better than mild steel with a galvanized coating. The primary reason you would need stainless steel is that the conveyor will function in an extremely corrosive environment. Hot pellets, for example, will eat through mild steel quickly, and galvanization may not be enough to prevent corrosion.
It is possible to combine mild steel and stainless-steel components in a conveyor to reduce the cost.
For a more detailed discussion on galvanized finishes, see Comparing Conveyor Finishes: Paint, Powder Coat, Galvanized, Stainless Steel.
When Should I Add Wear Liners to My Conveyor?
Wear liners increase the lifespan of a conveyor’s structural components and therefore act to reduce the frequency of major maintenance. Liners we offer include AR plating and UHMW. AR liners will protect against abrasion. Material that holds a lot of dirt—bark, for example—will greatly reduce the lifespan of a conveyor’s bottom panels, and AR plating is necessary to keep maintenance crews from having to continually replace panels.
AR plating is not useful for highly acidic materials, however, as it cannot be galvanized. UHMW liners are better for environments in which the conveyor will be exposed to both acid and abrasion.
For more information on protective materials, see Wear-Resistant Materials for Conveyors.
When is it Necessary to Include Explosion Panels?
Explosion panels are never necessary to the function of a conveyor. Rather, they’re safety features designed to relieve pressure in the event of an explosion so the conveyor does not A) throw shrapnel, B) become so damaged that it needs completely replaced, and C) damage nearby equipment. If your material is combustible and is at risk for a dust-related explosion, you are required to add explosion vents in the United States according to NFPA safety codes.
Why Include Fire-Suppression Systems?
We offer deluge systems for our SMART Conveyors™. Due to the number of fires reported at pellet mills and sawmills, insurance companies in Canada will not offer coverage unless the mill includes fire-suppression systems. In the United States, mills increasingly face the same pressure: insurance companies simply do not want the liability of an unsafe operation. Fire-suppression systems can therefore help reduce insurance costs or simply help a mill obtain insurance. NFPA codes in the United States require mills that handle combustible materials to have systems in place to combat fires. In some situations, an automated system like deluge is necessary.
More information on our deluge systems is available in the article Deluge System for Enclosed Conveyor Fire Mitigation.
Do I Really Need Plug Detection and Zero-Speed Sensors?
Yes, you do really need plug detectors and zero-speed sensors on your SMART Conveyor™. Obstructions can form due to no fault of the conveyor, and you will want the conveyor to stop before a catastrophic failure occurs. The price of few sensors is far less than the motor, shaft, chains, paddles, and sprockets you’ll have to replace, not to mention the cost in downtime repairing the conveyor will require. Because the risks of not having these items are so high, we include these items in every conveyor quote we produce. Also, in the United States, the NFPA stipulates that conveyors be equipped with plug detectors.