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Is Your Bucket Elevator Tough Enough to Handle Harsh Products and Process Environments?

August 21, 2020

Corrosive, abrasive and generally harsh process environments can be tough on your production line, causing unplanned downtime, lost throughput and even product breakage and degradation. In order to keep things moving, it’s essential that your equipment is up to the task — including your bucket elevators.

Although often associated with the gentle handling of confectionery items and other food products, bucket elevators are also rugged, durable and capable of withstanding even the most challenging applications — provided you select the right option. But how can you tell if a bucket elevator is capable of handling your application?

Designed to suit your specific needs

Tougher products and process environments require a custom solution, since standard bucket elevators could breakdown if they’re not adequately designed for the specific project. However, before you begin working on your custom bucket elevator design, you’ll need to determine the potential challenges associated with the process environment, as well as product itself. That way your bucket elevator will be designed and built to perform for your specific needs.

Your bucket elevator needs to be able to handle your products, be they corrosive and/or abrasive. Some common materials that can cause significant wear and tear to a bucket elevator include:

copper carbonate

Fortunately, there’s a solution: severe service bucket elevators, which are capable of handling the stresses of corrosive and/or abrasive materials. At UniTrak, we construct our severe service TipTrak bucket elevators with rugged heavy-gauge stainless or carbon steel frames. We also use rubber compounds and stainless-steel aircraft cable in our beltchains. Both are formulated to resist corrosion and abrasion. UniTrak buckets come in many different polymers – from standard Polypropylene to tough Nylatron-AR (abrasion resistant) buckets.

Harsh environments can cause problems

Another common challenge is extreme temperatures, which can cause your equipment to break down. That’s why it’s so important for your bucket elevator to handle very hot or cold temperatures.

Cold temperature challenges

Products that require a cold environment pose a unique set of stressors on bucket elevators. Many bucket elevators have metal chains that can rust and break. At UniTrak, we supply our TipTraks bucket conveyors with a custom rubber beltchain, molded in-house, using elastomers formulated for cold temperature service.

Another consideration for cold temperatures is the AC motors. Standard bucket elevators are typically only rated for temperatures down to -26°C (-15°F). At UniTrak, we can supply TipTraks with motors specially for cold temperature service. These motors include OS2 corrosion protection features such as synthetic gear motor oil, a metal motor fan, upgraded bearings and motor strip heaters.

Hot temperature challenges

High temperatures also require special consideration, especially the bucket assembly components, which come into direct contact with the product. TipTraks can be fitted with glass-filled Nylon-HT (high temperature) buckets to shield against the heat. Further, TipTrak’s rubber beltchains, buckets and joint strips for high temperature service support application temperatures up to 200°C (390°F).

Other environmental concerns

Although important, temperature isn’t the only environmental factor to consider. Exposure to moisture and the elements present their own challenges for outdoor conveying. The presence of moisture or sea salt causes frames to rust, which is why stainless steel is an ideal choice for outdoor systems.

Customization is key

Once you’ve determined the particular challenges associated with your product and processing environment, you’re all set to work with a vendor who can create a custom bucket elevator specifically for your application.

For the past 50 years, UniTrak has worked with customers around the world to build bucket elevators that are tough enough to handle even the most demanding applications and operating environments. To get in touch and find out how we can help, click here.

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