Reducing Spillage from a Bucket Elevator

November 17, 2016

Product spillage from conveyors can be a problem in many settings. Spilled product:
• represents lost throughput and revenue,
• requires costly cleanups;
• may also present a hazard for personnel and the environment.

Reducing the amount of product spillage can thus pay big dividends through its impact on revenue, costs, and ultimately, profit.

Bucket elevators are often used in manufacturing processes to convey product from one process elevation to another. Product is loaded into the elevator buckets at the infeed end of the conveyor and rides through the elevator to the discharge end where it is unloaded from the buckets.

Bucket Elevators: Reasons for Spillage

With a bucket elevator, product spillage can occur for the following reasons:

The buckets are overfilled with too much product. Overfilling the buckets increases the risk of product spillage, especially at increased speeds. Overfilling is often the result of trying to achieve a higher throughput rate than was originally planned when the machine was purchased.

To avoid this problem, it is important to accurately calculate throughput rates using the equipment manufacturer’s recommended bucket fill rate and operating speed. For example, at UniTrak, we calculate equipment throughput rates and capacities using a recommended bucket fill of 66% to 75%, and an operating speed of not more than 100 feet per minute. Using these recommendations, our product engineers can be sure that the needed throughput rates can be achieved without overfilling of the buckets.

The elevator uses an overlapping, as opposed to a fully interlocking, bucket assembly design. Many bucket elevators employ designs where the buckets overlap each other as they travel through the conveyor. These designs have two key drawbacks – the buckets actually separate on the vertical run, and they may also swing and move either before or during their overlap with each other. The net result of either condition is that some product is likely to be spilled as a consequence.

Avoiding Spillage with a TipTrakTM Bucket Elevator

These problems are avoided in TipTrakTM bucket elevators, thanks to the fully interlocking bucket design. In the TipTrakTM design, each bucket is fully interlocked to the next via a flexible rubber joint strip. This joint strip fully seals the space between adjoining buckets, meaning buckets never separate from each other and remain stationary as they move through the conveyor. The net result – a primary cause of product spillage is eliminated.

In addition, the rubber beltchain of a TipTrakTM bucket elevator provides a smooth ride for product as it moves through the conveyor. Unlike metal roller chains, the TipTrakTM rubber beltchain never needs tensioning or adjustment, runs quietly (< 65dB) with no “clanging” noise, and is quickly and easily swapped out should a replacement ever be needed.

Reducing spillage from a bucket elevator is an important equipment purchase criteria. Before purchasing any bucket elevator, buyers should review and consider the design features of each model to see the degree to which the risk of product spillage is addressed. Choosing a model whose design features significantly reduces the risk of product spillage will pay benefit in the long run.

If you are considering purchasing a bucket elevator, our application specialists will be pleased to speak with you and review your needs. To find out more about TipTrakTM bucket conveyors, and other fine UniTrak products, please contact our sales department.

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