For more than a decade, Dynamic Bulk Systems, Inc. (DBS) – a Vortex equipment representative located in Fenton, Missouri, USA – has provided one of the world’s leading pasta producers with bulk material handling solutions.
In 2017, the client consulted DBS to consider improvements to their flour transfer process.
In their process, various grades of flour are pneumatically conveyed and diverted from a main supply line into eight silos. Each of the eight silos feed separate production lines, with each line producing a different type of pasta.
To do so, the client used a manual hose switching station to route materials from the main supply line into each silo individually.
The manual hose switching station presented many disadvantages, including:
Labor-intensive – Because it was a manual switching process, an operator had to physically decouple, reposition and recouple the flexible hose. Further complicating this process, the operator had to climb up and shuffle across a narrow catwalk each time the hose was repositioned.
Safety – Rather than operators physically lifting and carrying the flexible hose between destinations, a come-along tool was used to move the hose through a horizontal plane. Because a come-along tool is a ratcheted, hand-operated winch, tension between moving parts can cause the mechanisms to fail – which is an operator safety concern.
These processes alone were cumbersome and inefficient.
Other pitfalls included:
Profitability – As the flexible hose was moved between destinations, residual flour would spill out and collect on the production floor. This resulted in lost profits from material waste and also created a safety hazard, as flour particles in the plant atmosphere can fuel a dust explosion. Material accumulation on floors can also cause slips and falls. Across industries, if a flexible hose is attached to an incorrect destination, the cost to empty an off-spec silo can be hundreds of thousands of dollars. Those sunk costs will increase, depending on if the off-spec material is reprocessed or disposed of as waste.
To address these issues, DBS considered the retrofit parameters and recommended the Vortex Multi-Port Diverter as the ideal solution for this application.
Though the Multi-Port Diverter offered many benefits over a manual hose switching station, it posed its own set of challenges:
Engineering accuracy – Because many other pieces of pre-existing equipment needed to be considered in this retrofitting design, the success of a Multi-Port Diverter relied heavily on precise measurements and adhering to tight tolerances. Adding further difficulty, the diverters had to be designed with proper angles and tubing bends to ensure conveying efficiency.
On-site assembly & installation – In this application, the Multi-Port Diverter’s mounting structure had to be designed and assembled around pipe runs, structural areas, walkways and other pre-existing obstacles. Because the system was so large in size and was to be installed indoors, it could not be factory assembled. Vortex engineers had to determine the best way to build in sections, so that the full system could be simply bolted together on-site.
This Vortex Multi-Port Diverter was installed in late 2017. The client remains impressed by its conveying efficiencies and performance. By replacing the manual hose switching process with an automated, PLC-controlled system, the client has saved significant time and labor costs, eliminated safety hazards, improved profitability, and successfully addressed other previous concerns.
“This area in the client’s production facility is much cleaner with the addition of the Vortex Multi-Port Diverter,” said Bob Baker, co-owner and engineer at Dynamic Bulk Systems. “Because the automated system ensures the different grades of flour are conveyed into their proper silo, this client has already saved dollars and labor hours, plus avoided potential processing errors and improved plant safety.”
About Dynamic Bulk Systems, Inc. (DBS)
Since 1992, DBS, Inc. has specialized in the application and sales of industrial equipment. Their focus is on dry bulk material handling and processing, air pollution control, air movement and accessories, and level measurement. The company’s goal is to provide manufacturers with high-quality, technically appropriate and competitively priced equipment. They strive to be known as a highly responsive, technically sound and professional organization.
DBS, Inc. is located in Fenton, Missouri, USA – about 20 minutes from downtown St. Louis. For more information, please visit www.dynamicbulk.com.