There are many different conveying technologies available. To be educated on the distinct types and the best markets for which they are efficiently utilized is the first step. Below are the different types of conveyors used for bulk material handling and the advantages and disadvantages.
Want to skip ahead? Click here to download the full technical brief by an industry-leading professional.
The first conveyor we will discuss is the belt conveyor. Belt conveyors greatest advantages are in distance, and carrying material for miles, from mines and pits, into processing facilities. Another advantage to belt conveyors is that they have high capacity rating. This means they are capable of handling a high volume of material at faster speeds.
However, the downside to this is that because the belt conveyor only uses 20-25% of physical space to move material, it would need to be quite large to haul tons of material. Another disadvantage to this type of conveyor for bulk material handing purposes is that external dust control systems would be needed if you were conveying material that is hazardous, dusty, or explosive.
And lastly, the En-Masse drag chain conveyor. The En-Masse drag conveyor is an efficient conveying technology for material movement. It offers high-volume material flow in small housing. Compared to the belt conveyor mentioned earlier, the En-Masse drag conveyor utilizes 90% of its physical space for conveying. Therefore, it will take up much less space to move the same amount, and even more, material than the screw conveyor. Another advantage to the En-Masse drag conveyor is that although it can move masses of material (hence the name), it uses less energy to operate, and has lower maintenance costs than its competitors. It also conveys in a sealed housing which keeps it safe from contamination, dusting, and hazardous material.
The second conveyor option would be the screw conveyor. The screw conveyor is an extremely common type of conveyor for bulk material handling. The reason for this is that it handles a wide-range of material types, it has a simple operating structure, and the initial purchase is very low compared to other conveying technologies. An advantage you get with a screw conveyor that you do not get with a belt conveyor is the limited external equipment needed to restrict dusting and contamination.
A disadvantage to this type of the screw conveyor is the amount of horsepower required to run the equipment due to the torque requirements that can be significant depending on the type of material and the density. Another disadvantage of this type of conveying technology would be the degradation of material that could occur. Screw conveyors are not ideal if you need to keep the nature of your product intact throughout material transfer. Based on a study done by FML, the screw conveyor showed a 6% degradation of material.
Although each conveying technology has its own advantages and disadvantages, some are definitely better suited for certain applications. So to determine which would be right for you, reach out to a trusted conveyor manufacturer to see what is recommended for your unique application.