Storage bins and hoppers are one of the most important considerations in any bulk material handling system. Poorly designed storage bins and hoppers produce irregular material flows that can significantly degrade the performance of any system. For this reason, it is important to work with vendors who understand material behaviour, and who can couple that expertise with design knowledge to produce bins and hoppers that promote good material flow throughout the system.
Bins and hoppers are used to store and transfer bulk materials within a process or system. They are also an integral part of some equipment – for example, infeed hoppers with a vibratory feeder can be used on TipTrak bucket elevators to control and regulate the feeding of material into the conveyor. This ensures a consistent and regular flow of material through the conveyor, and prevents problems associated with either over- or under-feeding the equipment.
In many systems, bins and hoppers are often an afterthought that follows on from the main system design. In these cases, system designers may overlook the need for a reliable and predictable supply of material to the equipment making up the system. For this reason, bins and hoppers should be given the same attention as the main equipment in the system design and specification phase.
Bins and hoppers work through gravity-flow. As material exits the bin or hopper, the force of gravity allows material to flow down the bin or hopper and eventually exit. Reliable gravity-flow depends in large part upon the friction angle between the flowing material and the bin or hopper wall.
Proper design of a bin or hopper is essential for promoting good gravity-flow. Hopper walls should be steep enough to overcome the force of friction between the material and the hopper wall. Flow within the bin or hopper can be assisted by the use of flow aids such as a vibrator or agitator. The use of flow aids may be necessary for handling hard-to-handle materials, such as those that are sticky or which tend to clump or cake when stored.
Materials with small particle sizes or high moisture content may have a tendency to cohere and obstruct the flow out of a bin or hopper. High particle cohesion can give rise to bridging or rat-holing within the bin or hopper. Avoiding these types of flow obstruction requires giving due consideration to the design, as well as the size and length, of the bin or hopper outlet.
At UniTrak, we have a long history of supplying bins and hoppers, either as standalone items or as part of our equipment or systems. Infeed hoppers are standard on Powderflight aeromechanical conveyor and UniFlex flexible screw conveyors. Discharge hoppers are available upon request and we can work with you to design a storage bin or hopper for any material handling application. We can supply bins and hoppers in a variety of sizes and designs and manufacture both stationary and mobile models. Applications we have serviced include those in the food, chemical, biomass, and other industries.
To find out more about the storage bin and hopper solutions we can provide, please contact our sales team.