Bucket Elevators for Cold Temperature Service

July 22, 2016

Whether your conveyor system is inside a cold storage facility, handling flash frozen coffee, fruits or vegetables, or running outdoors between facility buildings in northern climes, cold temperature service can be a problem.

Due to the frigid temperatures involved, cold temperature service can be particularly challenging as it imposes unique stresses on conveying equipment. For example, UniTrak has installed TipTrakTM bucket conveyors in freeze-dried coffee plants where the ambient temperature can be as low as -45°C (-50°F).  These low temperatures can introduce significant stresses on the drive assembly system and components, as well as the equipment frame and lubrication system. In this blog we highlight some of the factors that have to be taken into account when selecting a bucket conveyor for cold temperature service.

Choosing bucket conveyors for cold temperature service will involve a consideration of key aspects of the equipment. In particular, before making a buying decision, buyers will need to assure themselves that all aspects of the conveyor have been appropriately designed or modified for cold temperature service. Equipment aspects that should receive particular attention and scrutiny are the following:

  • Drive Motors. Standard AC motors are often rated for temperatures down to -26°C (-15°F). If your application requires servicing temperatures below what standard service motors are rated for, a non-standard motor capable of servicing low temperatures should be specified and supplied by the equipment vendor. In addition, it is often a wise move to slightly oversize the motor if the conveyor will be required to start up after a long period of idle time in a freezer environment.
  • Drive assemblies. Bucket conveyor drive assemblies generally consist of two types of drive chains: metal drive chains; and rubber drive chains, such as those found on TipTrakTM bucket conveyors.

Metal drive chains and pulleys are not immune from the effects of cold temperatures. Pulleys and chain components should be fabricated from alloys that are designed for low temperature service.

In contrast to metal drive chains, the TipTrakTM rubber belt/chain can be especially formulated for cold temperature service.  In addition, TipTrakTM conveyors will be supplied with the interlocking joint strips and plastic buckets specially formulated for cold temperature service.

  • Reducer gear lubricant. Standard conveyor gear reducer lubricant is usually rated for a minimum temperature of -12°C (+10°F). If your application temperature exceeds these limits, low temperature lubricants are available which can handle temperatures down to -34°C (-30°F). It is also important to remember to ensure that low temperature grease is also used in the reducer bearings. Most bearings used today are rated for low temperature service. However, it is often wise to confirm this with the equipment supplier.
  • Cold temperature applications may cause condensation to deposit on the conveyor frame. Since condensation has the potential to cause corrosion, equipment frames should be either stainless steel or carbon steel with a corrosion-inhibiting paint finish.

If you are considering purchasing a bucket conveyor for cold temperature service, UniTrak is your preferred supply partner. To find out more about how we can support your cold temperature service needs, please contact our sales department.

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