Heavy Duty Line Vac Solves Alumina Spillage Problem

Spilled alumina material which needs to be vacuumed and returned to the main hopper.

The image above shows spillage of small alumina particles at an aluminum manufacturing plant in South America.  This customer needed a method to vacuum the spilled material and return it to the main hopper.  The ideal solution needed to be compact, simple, and provide repeatable results.  All of these are key aspects of EXAIR Line Vacs, so we began discussing application variables to make a solution recommendation.

Whenever we consider Line Vac applications we always explore the following variables:

  •      Bulk density of the material
  •      Size of the material
  •      Conveyance height
  •      Conveyance distance
  •      Required conveyance rate
  •      Available compressed air supply

The spilled alumina in this application has a bulk density of 1.1 g/cm³ (~68.7 pounds/ft³) which needs to be conveyed to a height of 3.3m (~11ft.).  The conveyance rate is not mandated, but the alumina particles are rather small in diameter and the customer wanted to move as much material as possible in as little time as possible.  Compressed air is readily available at proper pressures and flows, so we were left to determine whether a Line Vac could be a viable solution.  Fortunately we’ve found success in transferring alumina with our Line Vacs in multiple applications before, so we were confident we could find a solution here as well.

The height of this application is 3308mm (~11ft.) – an easy conveyance height for an EXAIR Line Vac.

After exploring the specifics of this application we determined the best solution to be the 2” Heavy Duty Line Vac model 150200.  The 150200 Heavy Duty Line Vac can easily move the alumina to a height of 3.3m at an estimated conveyance rate of 11kg/minute (25 pounds/minute).  There are no moving parts to wear out, which means little to no maintenance and reliable performance each time the Line Vac is used.

Our local distributor assisted with product procurement and in-country technical support.  So even though this customer was in a different continent, we were able to quickly get them the assistance and products they needed to solve their problems.

If you have an application and would like to work with an EXAIR Application Engineer, give us a call and we’ll be happy to help.  1-800-903-9247.

EXAIR Corporation Application Engineers
Techelp@EXAIR.com

Line Vac Brings Additional Solution To Alumina Spill Recovery

Mobile spill recovery unit

In my last blog post I wrote about vacuuming alumina dust in an aluminum manufacturing plant in South America.  In that application we were returning spilled alumina to the original hopper so that processing could continue.

This same customer has an additional application to vacuum spilled material, but the new need is to assist mobile spill recovery vehicles (shown above) in vacuuming spills of varying volume. These mobile vehicles are effective for most of the spillage demands they can access, but there are times where additional vacuum is needed, such as when the spill location is beyond the hose length of the system.  In those scenarios additional vacuum hose can be added, but line losses render the performance too low to produce real results.  With this in mind, the end user looked for a point-of-use vacuum boosting solution, and thought about again using an EXAIR Line Vac.

Considering the potential use of a Line Vac, we approached this in the same way as any other pneumatic conveying application, gathering the required information to allow a proper model number selection.  As with the previous application we confirmed the following:

  •      Bulk density of the material
  •      Size of the material
  •      Conveyance height
  •      Conveyance distance
  •      Required conveyance rate
  •      Available compressed air supply

The spills in this facility are comprised of alumina dust with a bulk density of 1.1g/cm³ (68.7 pounds/ft³).  From the floor to the maximum height of the vehicle is a distance of 3.25m (~11ft), and conveying distances were in a range of 3-10 meters (10-30 feet).  The customer had no required conveyance rate, only a requirement to boost vacuuming capacity when needed.

With this information confirmed we were able to make a model number recommendation, the 2″ Heavy Duty Line Vac model 150200.  Adding the 150200 Heavy Duty Line Vac to this mobile spill recovery unit brings additional vacuum flow and conveyance of the alumina through a high velocity airstream, making mobile spill recovery efforts more effective.

If you’re in need of a pneumatic conveying solution, contact an EXAIR Application Engineer (1-800-903-9247).  We’ll be happy to help.

Lee Evans
Application Engineer
LeeEvans@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_LE

Another Unique Solution in an Aluminum Processing Plant

Fine dust particles needed to be removed from this belt on the underside of a conveyor

A few months back I wrote about the impact of installing Super Air Knives in an aluminum processing plant.  Those Super Air Knives solved a recurring problem with cleaning alumina dust around conveyors and reduced costs for the end user by over $80k.

That same customer has also found a method to remove fine dust from the underside of the conveyor belt in an application area not suitable for an Air Knife.  In this application there was no dust collection system in place to carry away the fines as they are blown off of the belt, so a different type of solution was needed.

Model 150200 Heavy Duty Line Vac provides the vacuum needed to remove the dust fines.

That solution was to install a Heavy Duty Line Vac affixed to a vacuum hood to remove fines from the belt and convey them back to the head chute.  The only problem with this setup was that the 2” Heavy Duty Line Vac produced a bit too much vacuum flow than what was really needed in the application.  So, a pressure regulator was installed to allow for adjustment and fine tuning of the vacuum solution.  The customer was able to adjust the operating conditions for the Line Vac and minimize compressed air use while maximizing the vacuuming effect on the fines stuck to the conveyor.

The Line Vac used in this application quickly and easily solved a chronic problem plaguing this manufacturer.  By installing this vacuum solution they were able to prevent build-up of dust and debris underneath the conveyor which originally required shutting down the line to clean.  This improved process uptime, reduced cleaning costs, and increased throughput in the application.

If you have an application in need of a vacuum solution, consider an EXAIR Line Vac.  And, if you have any questions, contact an EXAIR Application Engineer.  We’ll be happy to help.

Lee Evans
Application Engineer
LeeEvans@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_LE

EXAIR Super Air Knives Improve Process in an Aluminum Rodding Shop

pile-of-product
Piles of material underneath conveyor in aluminum making process

Recently, one of the world’s largest producers of aluminum initiated a study to determine the costs associated with material spillage in their facilities.  The purpose of their internal investigation was to quantify the time, money, and production losses derived from material spillage and accumulation in their rodding shop (the portion of the aluminum making process in which the anode rods are recycled).  Their findings were astounding.

sak-before
Material buildup underneath conveyor in rodding shop

Underneath the conveyors in the rodding shop were mountains of spilled material.  This material would accumulate to dangerous levels, causing safety hazards for workers to potentially slip or trip, interference with conveyor belt operation, an inability to service the conveyors, and a constant cleaning requirement.  Essentially, the accumulation of material would reduce the lifespan of conveyor components while simultaneously preventing maintenance personnel from being able to service the failed components.

failed-roller-1
Failed rollers, pulled from conveyors in the rodding shop

So, the spilled material would be vacuumed from the affected area, conveyor maintenance would be performed, and then the (vicious) cycle would repeat.

Overall, these spills cost over $85,000 per year in cleaning costs (vacuuming spilled material weekly at a cost of $1,650.00), 7100 minutes of unscheduled downtime loss (the process must be stopped during vacuuming and repair to the conveyors), an increased safety risk due to slips and trips on the spilled material, and reduced life of their conveyor belting, rollers, and pulleys due to operating in bath of rubble and dust.

Finding a solution for this problem was no small matter.  This customer needed a permanent and reliable solution to eliminate the mountains of material underneath their conveyors.  And that solution was to install EXAIR Super Air Knives on the underside of the belts, aimed opposite the direction of belt travel, and aimed toward the dust collection system, as shown below.  Before and after photos of the installation are shown below as well.

sak-installed-underneath-belt
An aluminum Super Air Knife (with plumbing kit from EXAIR) installed on the underside of a conveyor.
sak-before
Seven days of accumulation without the Super Air Knife installed
sak-after-pile-was-there-before
Seven days of accumulation with the Super Air Knife installed. Note: the pile in the background was there from the previous week.

The images above show how the Super Air Knives perfectly solve this problem.  They prevent the accumulation of material underneath the conveyors, eliminating $85,000/year in cleaning costs and 7100 minutes of unscheduled downtime, removing the safety and maintenance concern, and adding longevity to the conveyor components.

Cleaning intervals were revised from daily requirements to an interval up to 12 weeks in some locations.  (The shortest interval was revised from daily to every 3 weeks.)

return-roller
No more of these. This is a failed end roller, replaced after only two weeks in service. Lifespan for conveyor components was greatly improved after the installation of Super Air Knives.

So, the burning question is “How much did this solution cost the end user?”

Total costs to implement this solution were $16,000.00.  Based on the cleaning costs alone, the return on investment for this project was under three months.  When the downtime and additional conveyor maintenance is factored in, ROI is realized even faster, perhaps in under two months.

For EXAIR Application Engineers, thoroughly identifying customer problems and integrating an optimal solution is one of our specialties.  In this case we were able to see the benefits our products can have on a single process, saving the customer tens of thousands of dollars per year.

If you have a problem plaguing your facility and would like to discuss potential solutions using EXAIR products, contact one of our Application Engineers.  We’ll be happy to help.

Lee Evans
Application Engineer
LeeEvans@EXAIR.com
@EXAIR_LE