7 Factors to Consider in the Design of a Dry Bulk Material Handling System

The productivity, efficiency, and operating costs of your business are all highly influenced by the design of your dry bulk material handling system. But even if you carefully optimize your system to match your production requirements, demands in product, throughput, and cycle time change every few years.

Some facilities decide to streamline or upgrade their existing conveyor system design to maintain their competitive pace. Others opt for a new installation altogether. No matter which option you’re considering, here are seven key factors you should take into account to maximize the return on your investment.


What to consider in conveyor system design


1) The properties of your materials

Not all dry bulk material handling systems are suitable for all types of applications. For example, a system designed to gently convey grain would be ineffective at moving dense mining products. And the high-intensity heat manufacturing processes used in heavy industry would melt a batch of plastic pellets, which would then gum up your pipes.

Understanding your dry bulk materials is in many ways the most important aspect of efficient conveyor system design. So before you start planning, consider material attributes such as:

  • Particle size and shape
  • Material density
  • Abrasiveness
  • Friability
  • Friction angle
  • Angle of response
  • Moisture content
  • Toxicity
  • Explosive properties

The specific components you choose for your system should also match your product. For example, you might need a lump breaker to reduce large clumps of ash, sugar, or plastics into smaller, more uniform pieces. And abrasive materials like grit will quickly wear through conventional elbows, so an ultra-strong alternative like our patented Ceram-Back® elbow will be necessary to limit maintenance costs.


2) Available space

It’s highly likely that the spatial constraints of your factory will influence your conveyor system design. If you have plenty of available space, you’re free to use more long-radius 45-degree elbows without worrying about the system’s overall size. But if you don’t have room to spare, a more compact design that uses short-radius 90-degree elbows might be necessary.

The manner in which space affects design will also impact your operational requirements. For example, the distribution of horizontal and vertical pipes in a dilute-phase pneumatic conveying system will be a factor in determining your pick-up speed, itself influenced by saltation velocity and choking velocity. This could increase or decrease the energy demand of your system, as well as the amount of gas or compressed air you need to run it.


3) Construction material

Constructing your handling system from materials that react with or are corroded by the products you convey can be a lethal financial blow to your business. Similarly, failing to meet hygiene standards for certain products, like conveying foodstuffs using food-safe materials, may put you in legal jeopardy. When choosing your construction materials, consider the needs and characteristics of your products – as well as your available budget – to maintain your competitive edge.


4) Moisture control

For some dry bulk materials, high moisture content can lead to clumping. This makes it tough to convey in certain types of handling systems and can create problems within the storage bin.

Foodstuffs with high moisture content are also more susceptible to mold and rotting. In this case, you would need to take steps to prevent materials from becoming lodged in the pipes, as this could contaminate entire batches.

As well as the moisture content in your materials, ambient moisture can also reduce flow efficiency and product quality. Make sure your factory is well-ventilated, or consider installing a more effective heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system to give yourself precise environmental control.


5) Dust control

The dust produced by dry bulk materials handling can pose a respiratory health risk to you and your workers. Allowing it to escape your facility could also pose an environmental hazard. This is why properly managing dust is a requirement of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Your conveyor system design must be fitted with sufficient dust collectors and vent filters. This will keep the people within your facility safe from harm and help you avoid costly and damaging lawsuits.


6) Combustible dust

The majority of materials and dust are non-combustible. But those that need special attention to ensure safe collection and handling.

If you don’t know whether your materials produce combustible dust, have them tested by a licensed testing organization. Start by requesting an Initial Dust Characterization test and a Go/No-Go test. Depending on the results, you may also need to arrange tests for Explosive Severity (ASTM E1336) and Minimum Explosion Concentration (ASTM E1515).


7) Ease of maintenance and cleaning

Regardless of your dry bulk material and conveyor system design, regular maintenance and cleaning will be lifelong expenses. But by making ease of maintenance and hygienic design core aspects of your new equipment, you can minimize their demands on your time and money. Make sure you’re intimately familiar with the requirements of your handling system and prepare for fast, effective cleaning and maintenance ahead of time.


Get expert advice on conveyor system design components

For more than 40 years, Progressive Products has been designing and manufacturing durable, high-performing components for various industries. Our extensive knowledge and experience has given us keen insight into the conveyor system design needs of different manufacturers. So get in touch with us today for expert advice on system components that can help you reach your productivity potential.


New call-to-action