An overseas plant had a large operation processing cocoa beans. They would pick the pods off the cocoa trees, remove the beans from the pod, and place them on a large screened table to dry in the sun. The drying process may seem primitive, but with the natural energy of the sun, it is free. To completely remove the moisture from the cocoa beans, they would have to keep the beans exposed to the sun for close to a week. As a daily operation, the workers would have to carry beans to and from a storage container by shovel and bucket. In the morning when the sun was rising, they would shovel the beans from the storage container and spread them onto the table. Before evening came, they would shovel the beans from the table back into the storage containers. This back and forth was very hard work and time consuming.
In discussing their setup, the storage containers were a maximum of 10 meters away from the drying tables. The bulk density of cocoa beans are roughly 980 kg/m^3. So, with 19L buckets used to carry the beans, each one would weigh a bit over 18Kg each. The operators would carry two buckets, multiple times during the day to load the tables (reference the photo below). Then they would remove the beans in the evening to put them back into the storage containers. The reason that they had to store the cocoa beans at night was because of dew. When the temperature drops during the night, dew would settle onto the beans and rehydrate them. So, to keep the beans drying at a moderate rate, they had to store them during the night. This was very hard work on the workers’ backs, and they were also losing sunlight hours as this was a long tedious operation. In trying to find a better solution to improve their operation, they searched and found the EXAIR Air Operated Conveyors.
The EXAIR Line Vac fit very well into their operation. I suggested the model 152200 Heavy Duty Line Vac Kit as this unit has our highest conveyance rate. It can convey the cocoa beans at a rate of nearly 900kg/hr. It is very compact and easy to use. This plantation placed a 10 meter length of hose in between the storage containers and the drying tables. They attached a 1 meter section of hose to the vacuum end of the Heavy Duty Line Vac. Because the Line Vac pushes the product much better than it pulls, we recommend the vacuum hose to be 1 meter or less for optimum conveyance. So, in the morning, they would go to the storage container and attach the 10 meter hose to the exhaust end of the Line Vac. They would open the compressed air line to the Line Vac and watch the cocoa beans being conveyed to the drying tables. In the evening, they would reverse the procedure and attach the Line Vac to the 10 meter hose near the drying tables. They would watch the beans being conveyed back into the storage containers. Not only did this save the backs of their workers, it also increased the amount of drying time. With their new operation, the cocoa beans now had an additional 1 hour of drying each day in the sun. This helped tremendously in getting the dried cocoa beans to the processing factory more quickly.
If your company has a strenuous operation in moving dry bulk products like this, you may want to consider an EXAIR Air Operated Conveyor. They are very reliable, easy to use, and long lasting. If you need help in finding the correct model for your application, please contact us today.