Different Types of Bulk Material Handling Equipment

Different Types of Bulk Material Handling Equipment

Bulk material handling equipment is a key component of all industrial work environments. Not all facilities require the exact same type of equipment, but there are variations on that equipment that will be of use to a wide variety of materials and facilities. If this seems confusing to you, don’t worry, that’s not an abnormal reaction. Once we begin breaking down the different types of bulk material handling equipment, you’ll soon understand how each machine can provide a specific, necessary part of your facility’s material handling process.


Conveyors are one of the most common pieces of machinery used for handling materials in industrial work environments. They’re featured in plenty of TVs and movies so they should be familiar to most folks, no matter how familiar they are with material handling and storage. For newcomers to the subject, you may think a conveyor belt is a conveyor belt, simple as that.

However, the subject requires more nuance than that. We’ll certainly breakdown the importance of belt conveyors but as you’ll see below, there’s quite a few other types of conveyor systems that are better suited for certain tasks and materials.

Belt Conveyors

This is the most common form of conveyor found in industrial facilities. Belt conveyors may seem complex but they’re actually quite simple systems. These conveyors allow items to move from one end of the belt, to the other. However, it’s important to know that there are subsections within the belt conveyor family that are necessary to consider when purchasing a system for your facility.

Flat belts are a versatile form of belt conveying system that allows the transportation of materials, which can be light or heavy depending on the specific system you buy. These flat conveyors are quite different from cleated belt conveyors, which have cleats on their surface meant for transporting loose materials safely and efficiently. You can even find curved belt conveyors, which are conveyor systems that suit the specific need of maneuvering curves without needing any extra installments. Suffice it to say, belt conveyors come in many shapes and forms, which is why they are so popular in nearly all industrial facilities you’ll come across.

Sanitary Conveyors

Sanitary conveyors are very popular transportation systems within industries like food manufacturing. That’s because these conveyors exist specifically to handle thorough washing with cleaning chemicals on a regular basis. Not all conveyors are can withstand such processes, which is why this type of conveyor is so useful.

The sanitary conveyor’s ability to handle frequent, thorough cleaning helps food manufacturing facilities prevent cross-contamination from occurring between different products. By doing so, your facility remains clean and safe for all of your employees, as well as the customers receiving your product.

Vacuum Conveyors

Vacuum conveyors can essentially do the same job as the other three conveyor types, in as much as it sends materials from one place to another. However, this type of conveying system carries out that task in a very different way. Vacuum conveyors, also known as pneumatic conveyors, transport materials with the help of air pressure.

If you’ve ever been to a mail room, you’ve seen these conveyors in the form of the series of tubes that uses connecting channels to transport letters and packages all across the facility. In industrial facilities, vacuum conveyors can provide transportation for smaller products than even mail, such as minerals and certain types of food. The connecting tubes can separate into different channels to bring different materials into one place.


Silos are large containers that can store materials such as grain or sawdust. Much like conveyors, silos are very iconic structures that should be noticeable to even newcomers to the world of industrial equipment. The agriculture industry often uses silos to store products like grain, however, they can also store materials like cement and coal as well.

There are three common types of silos you can install in your facility. Firstly, there are bag silos; horizontal plastic tubes used for bulk storage. After packing materials into the plastic tube, you must seal both ends shut to keep them all contained. Secondly, there are bunker silos, which are structures that use concrete walls and durable, plastic tarps to contain materials.

Finally, there are tower silos, which are the most common type of silo. These vertical structures tend to rely on gravity as opposed to any electrical or mechanical components. For example, after placing grain in a silo, gravity will naturally allow the grain to flow to the bottom. At the bottom of the silo, there is an opening that leads to an auger, which transports the grain to another designated location. Augers will usually deliver the grain to another storage unit or a vehicle that will take it to another location entirely.

Grain Elevators

Grain elevators are very similar to grain silos, though these storage units utilize mechanical components more than silos. A grain elevator is a tall storage unit that transports grain using either bucket elevators or a pneumatic conveying system. After placing the grain in one of these two devices, the system delivers it to a designated storage unit.


Hoppers are storage containers that transport materials from one storage unit to another. This funnel-shaped device can hold materials such as grains or rocks and deliver them to your desired location. Hoppers constrict the output flow of the materials with the help of an opening at the bottom.

As you can see, there are many different types of bulk material handling equipment. Some of them are complex, while others are quite simple and straightforward. At DoverMEI, we can help you find and install a wide range of industrial equipment in your facility, from storage silos to rail car unloading systems. Now that you’re more familiar with many of the common bulk material handling equipment, you can ensure you properly install and maintain the best ones for your specific needs. While the topic may seem daunting to newcomers, once you finally see the material handling equipment doing its job in your facility, it’ll become as familiar to you as any other piece of equipment.

Material Handling Equipment
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