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Demystifying Bucket Elevator Design

July 13, 2020

Here’s What You Need to Know to Pick a Custom Solution

There’s a reason bucket elevators are so popular. They’re good at their job. In fact, they’re one of the most effective ways to vertically transport bulk materials. Bucket elevators are also adaptable, with the capacity to work with thousands of applications. This versatility, however, makes it difficult for vendors to deliver a one-size-fits-all solution.

Ideally, every bucket elevator should be built specifically for its own production line. This means working with a vendor on a custom solution. We know the process can be overwhelming, which is why we’ve put together this handy guide.
We’ll be covering:

• Why you should choose a custom designed bucket elevator
• The difference between design and configuration
• How bucket elevators are designed

Ready? Let’s jump in!

The benefits of customization

Most bucket elevators are built for a specific application, but premium vendors will insist on a completely custom solution for their customers. Going the custom route means a greater upfront investment, but you’ll benefit from having a bucket elevator that’s not only tailored to your product, but your facilities as well.

Bucket elevator design vs. configuration

Configuration is considered a subset of the design. It refers to the specific layout of your bucket elevator, particularly in relation to the fixed upstream and downstream equipment that it must connect to. Two of the most common configurations for bucket elevators include “Standard” (Z-shaped), and “Standard C” (C-shaped). At UniTrak, we also offer:
• Incline
• Incline-Horizontal
• Stair Step
• Lowerator

How the bucket elevator design process works

The bucket elevator design process typically occurs in the following stages:

1.) Information Gathering

The vendor will request information from the customer about their application.

Questions you should be prepared to answer include:

  • What type of material is being moved?
  • What are the properties and characteristics of the material? Material bulk density, weight and moisture content can influence the overall design. It’s also important to share whether the material is sticky, abrasive, free-flowing, toxic or explosive, as this will factor into the design as well.
  • What is the desired throughput rate?
  • Are there any regulatory requirements?
  • What does your footprint look like? What about your existing upstream and downstream equipment? If your bucket elevator needs to be designed around fixed equipment, the vendor can recommend the best configuration to connect the infeed and discharge sections.
  • What are your operating conditions and environment like? You should share if you’re operating a continuous or intermittent service, and how many hours per day the bucket elevator will be running. Your vendor will also need to know if your facilities are indoors or outdoors, as well as other environmental factors such as temperature.

2.) Recommendations

Once they have an understanding of your application and production line, the vendor will make recommendations for a particular bucket elevator model and size.

3.) Model Selection

Vendors typically offer a variety of bucket elevator models to suit a range of applications. At UniTrak, for instance, our customers pick from four different models:

  • Open Tubular
  • PEC (Enclosed)
  • Monocoque (Dust-tight)
  • Monocoque GT (Gas-tight)

4.) Bucket Elevator Customization

Working off the base model, the next step is to select which additional features will be incorporated into the custom bucket elevator design. At UniTrak, for example, our customers may choose from the following:

  • Different bucket assembly components, molded from a selection of polymers, rubber and steel. More than 50 different types of buckets are available, including high and low temperature, abrasion resistant, microbial inhibiting and Acetyl.
  • Customized infeed options, including chutes, slide gates, rotary valves, vibratory and belt feeders
  • Customized discharge options, including bucket knockers and discharge chute
  • Multiple cleaning options, such as CIP (clean-in-place) systems, cleanout drawers, pulley scrapers and self-clearing wheels

5.) Design Finalized

At UniTrak, the customization process begins once a particular model has been selected. We build every TipTrak to order, using standard components, according to our customer’s application requirements and the optional features they selected.

Back to you

There’s a lot to consider when sourcing a customized bucket elevator solution. Working with vendors who have a track record in custom design will make the process easier. They’ll know which questions to ask to fully understand your unique application needs and make the best recommendations possible.

At UniTrak, we have 50 years of experience designing and building bucket elevators for manufacturers worldwide. We would love to hear about your application, and how we can help you find the best solution with a customized bucket elevator. Click here to get in touch with our team.

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