In bulk material handling processes, there can be a lot of drama associated with the subject of material degradation. That’s because maintaining product integrity from start to finish is the key to material quality and a healthy bottom line.
In keeping with that theme, we’ll inject a little drama into this blog by asking the question that’s on everyone’s mind…and then not answering it until later.
First, the question: What is the best conveyor for minimizing material degradation?
At Hapman, we don’t pull an idea off the shelf and give it to you without fully understanding your specific material handling needs. Similarly, we’re not going to give you the answer to the conveying question without first providing you with some information about why preventing material degradation is so important.
Economics 101: Supply and Demand
As the global demand for products escalates each year, North American industrial and manufacturing sectors continually search for new ways to improve existing processes in order to achieve higher levels of production output. With that increased demand comes greater difficulty in securing certain materials, which of course brings about price increases.
Consider non-food agricultural materials as just one category that is seeing greater demand. According to traccsolution.com, material prices in this category have increased by an average of 117% since 2000 (approximately a 6% annual increase). Experts see no end in sight and believe commodity prices will continue to rise and remain unstable.
These higher front-end costs make it more important than ever to maintain product quality during material movement and processing, with additional emphasis on ensuring the least amount of waste possible. Reducing degradation requires critical components such as conveyors to be efficient, focused on minimizing negative-impact factors, and always aligned with generating profits.
There are several factors that impact product degradation, including elevated temperature, friction, and aggressive environments. All of these factors come into play while material is being processed, especially as it is being moved via conveyor. In this context, the amount of material degradation almost always comes down to how a conveyor is designed.
Not all conveyors handle every material effectively, and choosing the wrong conveyor can mean the difference between an annual loss or a strong bottom line. Industry pays an enormous price for material degradation, but much of that wasted material can be saved if the proper conveyor design is chosen to specifically move any intended materials. It is critical for a successful industrial or manufacturing operation to understand how to reduce direct cost by using the most effective and efficient conveying methods to improve their material handling processes.
Drum Roll Please
And now the moment you’ve been waiting for, the best conveyor for minimizing material degradation. First, let’s rule out a few conveyor types that aren’t known for handling material gently:
We’re left with what is generally regarded as the best selection for high-volume material handling with minimal degradation: an en-masse drag conveyor. This unique method moves bulk materials smoothly, gently and economically across planes and around bends in an abrasion-resistant steel housing. There is no internal disturbance or pressure on the material because the en-masse motion is generated by the product itself, as opposed to being pushed, shoved or ground up by another means along the conveyor line.
We’ll conclude by saying that when it comes to conveying solutions, there really aren’t any absolute right or wrong answers. As always, the correct conveyor choice ultimately depends on the specific application and materials being conveyed. But any industrial or manufacturing operation that needs to reduce material waste should seriously consider going the en-masse route…and partnering with Hapman to implement a conveying system that can keep degradation drama to a minimum.