Many industrial applications require the movement of dry powder from one point in the process to another. There are many methods of moving dry powder, with varying degrees of sophistication and benefits.
Manual charging is very basic and cost efficient; mechanical transfer adds a degree of automation whilst remaining relatively cost efficient, and pneumatic conveying is highly automated and the use of a vacuum conveyor means the powder is fully contained.
Health and Safety First
One of the most significant benefits of pneumatic conveying is the protection of workers and the environment from the powder. Exposure of workers to hazardous substances is eliminated, as is heavy lifting of containers. Furthermore, personal protective equipment requirements are reduced.
A pneumatic conveyor, such as http://www.aptech.uk.com/pneumatic-conveying/vacuum-conveying/ not only prevents the obvious contamination of the environment with the powder, but it also creates an inert atmosphere for oxygen-sensitive powders.
The containment of the powder has the benefit of less mess and easier cleaning of equipment and the facility.
Decreasing processing time by agitating the materials more increases the efficiency of the process. Furthermore, the reduction in required manpower means the process is optimised for time and cost.
Efficiency is, however, affected by capacity, rate and distance of transfer. Each of these factors should be carefully considered and discussed with the provider to ensure the best solution is implemented.
Protection of Equipment
When equipment is continuously opened and secured, seals and other vulnerable equipment is prone to damage and will eventually require replacement. With an automated feed process, such as in pneumatic conveying, the need to open a feed hatch is eliminated, thereby prolonging the life of components and periods between maintenance.
Integrity of Product
In industries such as pharmaceuticals, the quality and purity of the product at the end of the conveying line is crucial. By using a closed system, there is no risk of external contaminants entering the process stream and affecting the product. Pneumatic conveying is highly recommended for the pharmaceutical industry.
Although capital expenditure may be higher for pneumatic conveying systems, the savings related to manpower, employee safety, operational cleanliness, efficiency of the process and reduced wear and maintenance of equipment outweigh such costs. Running a safe, clean, efficient and quality-assured process will pay dividends.