A Moving Story

Since the dawn of civilisation materials have been conveyed, by men and women toting sacks on yokes, by pack animals, carts and more recently using mechanical conveyances. They all faced the same challenges – maintaining quality whilst negotiating bends, inclines, vertical rises and falls in unforgiving climates as well as delivering according to demand as economically as possible. The demands are now even greater but conveying technology has moved on. The choice of system is huge and each system has its particular advantages, according to material type, sensitivity and quantity, distance or elevation to be covered, location and economic constraints, among many others. The subject and range is huge and a brief look at pneumatic conveying would indicate some of the parameters to be considered.

Pneumatic conveyors employ air, or other gases to move powders or granular material along a pipeline to the receiving vessel or process. The material may be highly concentrated (dense phase) or relatively diluted in the airstream (lean phase). In either case the material may be blown by means of a blower mounted near the point of entry, known as pressure conveying, or it may be drawn by an exhauster downstream from the delivery point, known as vacuum conveying. Pressure conveying blowers may exert pressures up to 1 BarG and be capable of very high throughputs. Vacuum conveying exhausters may generate up to about 0.5 Bar of negative pressure, somewhat lower, but then there are particular advantages to this system. Because there is no positive pressure within the system, the product vessel feeding the system may have no need for an airlock or rotary valve enabling larger particulates to be handled safely. For all systems each element must be performance matched, from the initial feed with metering valves or rotary valve through to the final point of delivery.

In any system, fuel efficiency is a prime design consideration. Therefore conveying pipe diameter and flow rates, the number of bends and their severity must be optimised. In addition, attrition and wear rates must be considered and indeed this latter wide ranging topic is the subject of a SHAPA paper available to view in the Technical Section of the SHAPA website. All of this is a mere snapshot of what is required for economic, long lasting material moving equipment. The website Product Finder will, however, lead you to many expert companies whose websites are informative and enlightening.

The SHAPA story is one of progress, moving with the times and promoting excellence. With this in mind new SHAPA annual awards are now being considered by the General Council. Proposed awards include an Export Award, SHAPA Company of the Year and an Innovation award. These will demonstrate the professionalism and enthusiasm of the membership. Stay tuned and visit www.shapa.co.uk  or email info@shapa.co.uk  for a greater insight.

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