Bulk Material Handling: Vertical Conveyor Options

On occasion, the layout of a plant, storage facility, mine, or quarry dictate that a vertical conveyor is needed to move bulk material from one position to another. Transporting materials up 90 angles is a special challenge for any piece of equipment. And some designs work better than others.


Many designs have been developed to move dry bulk solids. Many of them have niches where they are effective, but vertical movement is a different kind of task. Obviously moving material against gravity will require extra energy. It also requires adaptation of the vehicle that carries the material upward. With some technologies, this simply isn't possible. Others require a good deal of innovation.

Screw Conveyors

Screw conveyors use a central shaft to rotate a spiral conveyor that pushes bulk materials forward. These conveyors are effective for horizontal applications and, over limited distances, along moderately angled paths. But the "pockets" of material created by gravity between threads of the spiral on its side disappear when raised to a vertical. This makes the system unviable for vertical conveying.

Pneumatic Conveyors

These machines use air pressure to blow bulk material along a system of tubes. Fans, often at both ends, are used to push and/or pull air and material through. These systems are effective for materials with small and light weight individual pieces. But again, turning this technology vertical for more than a few feet causes difficulties. The system, which relies on air pressure, is greatly taxed by extended lengths moving against gravity. Vertical applications further limits the size of granules a pneumatic conveyor even of short heights can handle.

Belt Conveyors

This well-known configurations moves a length of belting around a system or 2 or more wheels. It is the most versatile configuration for moving dry bulk material along any angle. A flat belt is ideally designed to carry material horizontally. Adding angles requires some modifications as the goods will fall when the angle of incline exceeds their angle of repose. The solution is to add cleats or nubs to a belt to hold the material in place.

Vertical belt conveyors, or bucket elevators, solve this dilemma by using substantial belt-wide cleats or attachable buckets to create a deep pocket in which products can settle for transport. This pocket holds products in the same way as a standard conveyor, and can be used to transport bulk materials quickly up 90 angles. This allows a vertical belt conveyor to be nearly as efficient as horizontal conveyors. For vertical conveying, belt conveyors are by far the best option.

Industrial Applications

Bucket elevators have been well adapted to many different industries and applications. Here are just a few.

Mining - This industry is one of the earliest adopters and most frequent users of bucket elevators. Mining requres equipment that can move product out of the mine steadily and in the shortest time possible. This means the efficiency and reliability are musts. Vertical belt conveyors can carry coal or other raw materials up multilevel mines with ease, removing the need for multiple belts or a lot of back and forth movement.

Food Processing - This industry commonly employs bucket elevators to transport bulk materials through processing plants. Because many of these buildings have complex processes for preparing food, height changes are often necessary. Having a vertical belt that runs constantly while taking up minimal space is key to maintaining maximum efficiency.

Agriculture - Farmers and venders often find that using a vertical conveyor can greatly simplify the process of storing and transporting grains and other bulk food items. Grain elevators rely on vertical conveyors almost exclusively to store wheat and barley until they can be used. This makes it essential for conveyors to work properly in order to keep food supplies moving as needed to feed people throughout the country and world.

Efficient and versatile vertical conveyors have become a staple throughout many industries. The adaptability of bucket elevators allows them to fit into diverse situations rather than forcing the situation to adapt to the conveyor. Because of their versatility, it is easy to find a use for them, and they excel at increasing efficiency during the production process. In a world where people are constantly looking for the fastest way to do things, bucket elevators have become an essential tool, and help all sorts of companies maximize productivity.

For the most efficient and reliable vertical belt conveyors available, contact Cambelt with the specifications of your operation.

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