aeromechanical conveyors

Drag vs. Aeromechanical Conveyors

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Drag and aeromechanical conveyors are widely used conveying technologies in many processing facilities. Because both technologies can service similar applications, buyers often need to decide which conveyor will work best for them. This blog highlights some of the advantages and disadvantages of each type, helping equipment buyers decide which type will perform best in their particular application.

Aeromechanical Conveyors

Working on the principle of a fluidized airstream created by a series of discs mounted onto a wire rope, aeromechanical conveyors can move moderate amounts of material efficiently.

Sometimes known as “rope and disc” conveyors, aeromechanical units consist of a fully enclosed tube in which a series of disks attached to a continuous wire rope travels at high speed, creating a high-velocity airstream. This airstream draws material into and through the conveyor, allowing the conveyor to closely mimic pneumatic conveyors with this mode of operation.

Material is fed into an aeromechanical conveyor at a constant rate. The high-speed airstream created within the conveyor fluidizes the material, effectively moving powders and other particulates through the unit. Aeromechanical conveyors can be connected to and fed from a variety of sources, including bins, hoppers and silos, mixers and blenders, and bulk bag dischargers and fillers.

Aeromechanical Conveyors: Pros

  • Fully enclosed tube prevents product contamination and contains dust
  • Can convey at any angle from 0 – 90 degrees
  • No separation of mixtures
  • Low energy requirements

Aeromechanical Conveyors: Cons

  • Maintenance costs can be higher
  • Cannot start/stop under a full load
  • Requires a controlled feed

Drag Conveyors

These conveyors consist of a tubular housing which encloses a continuous chain or wire rope to which a series of discs are attached. A shaft-mounted motor with a drive sprocket engages with the chain/rope-and-disc assembly and moves it through housing. In operation, material enters the conveyor through the infeed inlet and falls into the spaces between the moving discs. As the drive assembly moves forward, material which accumulates between the discs is pulled through the conveyor to the discharge outlet. Drag conveyors can pull wet or dry material through the conveyor to the discharge point.

Drag Conveyors: Pros

  • Conveyor is self-loading
  • Can accommodate multiple loading and discharge points
  • Enclosed tube contains product and dust
  • Can convey at different angles

Drag Conveyors: Cons

  • Abrasive materials can cause wear
  • Product may deposit and build up on tube walls
  • May degrade fragile materials or cause particle attrition
  • Higher energy costs

Because there are many factors that go into deciding which type of conveyor is best for your application, it is impossible to detail them all in a blog. Beside the advantages and disadvantages of each type described above, buyers need to carefully consider their application requirements including the material being moved, the operating conditions, space requirements, and integration with upstream and downstream equipment. Carefully considering all the relevant factors can help you choose the conveyor type that will give you the best results.

For over 40 years, UniTrak has helped companies the world over to solve their bulk materials handling challenges. The UniTrak product portfolio includes TipTrak™ bucket elevators, Powderflight aeromechanical conveyors, UniFlex flexible screw conveyors, and Bagstander bulk bag unloaders and fillers. For more information on UniTrak products, or how we can help with your bulk solids handling needs, please contact our sales department directly.


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