Housekeeping Tips for Conveying Fine Powders in a Bucket Elevator

January 19, 2017

As noted in a recent blog, conveying fine powders in a bucket elevator can result in material deposition and build-up which can adversely impact equipment performance and uptime. In this blog we present some housekeeping tips for keeping your bucket elevator free from the build-up of powder and fines, helping assure uninterrupted throughput and uptime.

Tip #1: Perform regular and frequent equipment inspections. Inspecting vital machine components for powder deposition and build-up should be a regular maintenance activity. Inspections should be both regular and frequent – sometimes, inspections are done regularly, but they are spaced too far apart to detect abnormalities before they become full-blown problems.

During inspections, drive wheels and pulley rims and web facings should be scrutinized, along with other drive assembly components. Where deposits of powder and fines are detected, they should be removed. It is also important to inspect and clean the equipment frame and any viewing windows or ports.

Tip #2: Pay particular attention to the “product zone” of the elevator. The infeed area of the bucket elevator should be especially scrutinized during inspections. In the product zone, where buckets are being filled with fresh product, the risk of contamination from dislodged deposits of previous fills is high. Similarly, deposits in the discharge are of the elevator may dislodge and fall into the emptied buckets, leading to contamination when the buckets are refilled.

Tip #3: Use a vacuum to remove powder deposits. Often, personnel will use compressed air to blow powder and fines deposits off the equipment. The problem with this approach is that the powder and fines will be dispersed into the ambient air and eventually resettle back onto the equipment. To prevent this, remove deposits with vacuum suction into an enclosed container.

Tip #4: Check drive chain/belt alignment and tracking regularly. A mistracking drive belt is sometimes a symptom of powder and fines deposition inside an elevator. In cases of heavy powder or fines deposits on pulley rims, the accumulation of material may be so severe as to cause the drive belt to disengage from the pulley. Powder deposits can cause seizing of the links of metal roller chains, and abrasive deposits can cause premature wear of the chain. To avoid these problems, good housekeeping should include regular inspection of the drive belt and chain.

Tip #5: Consider retrofitting pulley scrapers and self-cleaning drive wheels onto the elevator. Where deposits of powder and fines is especially problematic, retrofitting these items onto the elevator can reduce the deposition load significantly.

Tip #6: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! While the above housekeeping tips will help when conveying fine powders in a bucket elevator, nothing beats purchasing an elevator which is designed to reduce the powder deposition. TipTrak bucket elevators from UniTrak have design features which address powder deposition, resulting in superior equipment performance and uptime. If you are conveying fine powders in a bucket elevator, contact our sales department to find out how we can protect your throughput and uptime by reducing the effects of powder deposition.

For more information, contact our sales team today!

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