Whether replacing an existing bucket elevator, or building a new plant altogether, there are a few crucial decisions the purchaser should be prepared to make during the buying process. Here are some of the key design decisions that will require consideration when engaging a bucket elevator supplier.
Bucket elevators are primarily manufactured in two different discharge configurations: centrifugal and continuous. One of the first questions a bucket elevator manufacturer will ask is which elevator style the project calls for.
Continuous-style bucket elevators operate at slower speeds and lower capacities, offering gentle handling for materials that are fragile or susceptible to aeration; they are the preferred choice for applications such as potash and other fertilizers where degradation or attrition is a concern.
Continuous bucket elevators are also the best choice when handling materials that are either abrasive or inconsistent in particle size; the scooping and throwing action of the centrifugal-style elevator does not lend well to these types of materials.
Material is fed from a chute into buckets as they pass through the boot section. Buckets are designed and arranged in a way that allows the back of each bucket to serve as a discharge surface onto which the previous buckets material passes, making its way to the discharge chute via gravity.
Centrifugal-style elevators are better suited to faster, smoother handling applications where degradation or aeration of material are not a concern. This type of handling is typical of free-flowing or powdered materials and is often used for sand and ore.
The centrifugal elevator style self loads by scooping material from a hopper as it passes through the boot section. On passing over the head pulley, the buckets discharge material by throwing it into the discharge chute via centrifugal force. This elevator type operates at higher speeds and accommodates greater capacities, and as such, is the preferred choice at shipping terminals and other high-volume settings.
Centrifugal Bucket Elevator The image above illustrates the operation of a centrifugal-style bucket elevator. Note how loading is primarily a result of the buckets scooping material and discharge occurs as a result of throwing via centrifugal force.
The bucket elevator manufacturer will also want to know whether a belt- or chain-type elevator is preferred. Both belt and chain bucket elevators offer a reliable handling solution, with the decision between the two types coming down to practicality and cost.
Belt elevators offer a cost-effective solution for applications such as sand handling (a centrifugal belt-style elevator with nylon buckets offers a highly effective and economic option in such settings). They are also the preferred choice when noise is a concern, as they are much quieter than their chain counterparts.
This elevator style does, however, have some limitations. While less costly, they are not as durable as chains, making them less of a fit for especially demanding applications, such as those found at mine sites. They are also not recommended when the material to be handled is hot, or presents a risk of combustion. Further, since large particles could become wedged between where the bucket is mounted onto the belt, causing damage, the belt-style elevator is best suited for smaller particle sizes ( roughly and smaller) that avoid this risk.
While smaller belt elevators can handle capacities comparable to that of a chain elevator, this is only true up to a point; in addition to a lower tensile strength, their capacity is limited by practicality; beyond a certain capacity, the size of the casing and components required would be impractical.
Chain elevators are also the best option for handling higher-temperature (greater than 400F) or potentially combustible materials, as well as materials of a larger particle size that could otherwise become lodged between a bucket and belt.
A well-chosen bucket style often means the difference between seamless production and constant downtime for bucket repair or replacement. Elevator buckets are available in a wide range of styles and materials depending on whether the chosen elevator is of the continuous or centrifugal design.
Since centrifugal elevators will require the buckets to scoop up material, buckets in this category are equipped with a reinforced lip on the leading edge in order to discourage any distortion during digging.
AC Buckets are chosen for especially heavy-duty applications, or when the material being conveyed is hot or highly abrasive. This bucket style also accommodates a much higher capacity than the AA bucket style.
Close-centered, or CC buckets are an increasingly popular bucket style for centrifugal elevators. The buckets unique shape, along with a design that allows buckets to be spaced closer together, offers additional capacity over what AC buckets can handle.
Inspection doors are important for troubleshooting or routinely examining elevator performance and the overall condition of the equipment. Further, some operations may require access doors that allow for easy access to the units internals for changing or cleaning buckets, shoveling or washing out the boot section, or other routine maintenance procedures.
Bucket elevators typically come with access doors at the boot section and inspection doors at the head section, but additional access or inspection doors may be helpful at the intermediate sections as well, depending on the applications. Depending on where the bucket elevator is located in the plant, and the surrounding infrastructure, ladders and safety cages, as well as platforms may also be necessary.
The purchase of a new bucket elevator requires several design decisions on the part of the purchaser. For those new to bucket elevators, FEECO can walk you through the process and provide guidance on critical decisions based on your handling requirements and goals.
FEECO has been providing reliable bucket elevators to a range of industries since 1951. Our diverse material experience, combined with our flexible design process and high quality standards, ensures you get the best handling system for the job. For more information on our bucket elevators, contact us today!
FEECO has been building custom bucket elevators for over 65 years. We offer a variety of bucket elevator designs and sizes to handle materials ranging from dry dusty powders such as fly ash, to heavy materials such as iron ore pellets. Bucket elevators can be ordered in a number of configurations, including centrifugal belt, centrifugal chain, continuous belt, continuous single chain and continuous double chain.
Centrifugal bucket elevators are chosen when there is a need to move large amounts of material quickly. Instead of direct loading, buckets serve as the loading apparatus, scooping material up from the boot or inlet section. For this reason, durable buckets should be selected with this design. Centrifugal force at the head pulley throws material from the buckets into the discharge chute. The buckets are spaced in wider intervals to prevent discharge interference from the preceding bucket and to assure maximum fill of the buckets at the boot end while moving at a higher speed. The design of this style yields optimized material fill and reduced interference between buckets.
Continuous bucket elevators are designed to handle friable, fragile materials to minimize product degradation or damage. They are also ideal for handling sluggish or abrasive materials. Continuous bucket elevators are also used to convey light, free-flowing matter where aeration of the material must be avoided.
Material is fed into the buckets from an inlet chute. Buckets are designed for gentle discharge; the buckets are closely spaced on the belt or chain to allow the material to flow over the backside of the preceding bucket, whose extended sides form a chute to guide the material into the discharge spout. Direct loading of the material, combined with the slow speed of this elevator type, avoids the throwing action associated with centrifugal style elevators, making it ideal for use with fragile materials.
Chain bucket elevators provide a higher-capacity, more durable handling option. They are best for jobs requiring rugged handling of large particles, or materials that are heated or have a potential for combustion.
All FEECO equipment and process systems can be outfitted with the latest in automation controls from Rockwell Automation. The unique combination of proprietary Rockwell Automation controls and software, combined with our extensive experience in process design and enhancements with hundreds of materials provides an unparalleled experience for customers seeking innovative process solutions and equipment.
Bucket elevators can handle a variety of materials, and therefore are used in many different industries and applications, though generally, they are not suited for wet, sticky materials, or materials that are stringy or tend to mat or agglomerate. They are frequently found in bulk material handling settings such as power plants, fertilizer plants, pulp & paper mills, and steel production facilities. Some of the most common materials for which bucket elevators are employed include:
Flexibility: Make sure the bucket elevator manufacturer is prepared to tailor the unit to the specific requirements of the material being handled, as well as any operational goals. This will ensure an efficient and reliable handling solution with long-term dependability.
Material Experience: Many bucket elevator manufacturers specialize in a specific industry. In choosing a manufacturer, ensure they have experience around the unique challenges of the material to be handled.
Aftermarket Support: Select a manufacturer that has the capabilities to service and maintain their equipment for a maximum return on investment. This includes provision of spare parts, training, installation assistance, and more.
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Image: The image above shows the scooping and throwing action of the centrifugal belt style elevator at left. At right, the more gentle feeding and discharge of the continuous belt style elevator is shown. Bucket Elevator Styles: The image above shows the scooping and throwing action of the centrifugal belt style elevator at left. At right, the more gentle feeding and discharge of the continuous belt style elevator is shown.
FEECOs bucket elevators are designed and fabricated to the highest quality standards. With over 65 years of experience, our equipment is especially valued in tough applications that require a high amount of ingenuity to achieve success.