Tips for Selecting a Bulk Bag Discharging System
Bulk bag discharging systems are a necessity for many industrial manufacturing facilities. These systems allow for the safe transfer and disposal of materials such as dust and other potentially dangerous particles in the workplace. As small as some of these particles are, they pose quite a large threat to the workplace if not properly handled throughout the workday.
If you’re planning on installing a bulk bag discharging system in your facility, there are a few things you should know beforehand. These tips for selecting a bulk bag discharging system will help you find the best setup for your specific needs. Like most industrial equipment, not all discharging systems are exactly the same. If you get the wrong one for your facility, it won’t be able to properly carry out those day-to-day functions.
For instance, depending on the flow properties and the various combustible nature of the materials in your facility, you may need certain specifications to keep the workplace safe. Luckily, if you have a good relationship with a reliable equipment supplier, finding the right fit for your facility won’t be too tough.
Consider Your Material’s Flow Properties
As hinted at above, depending on the material you’re loading into the discharging system, it might be necessary to install more equipment to ensure it functions properly. This is because flow properties differ from material to material. Some materials are more abrasive than others, just like different materials have varying density levels. These unique characteristics are one of the top reasons that these systems require such care and consideration when being installed in a facility.
For example, materials that don’t flow as smoothly as others typically require the aid of a massaging system. No, we’re not talking about the massaging chair you have at home that works out those kinks in your neck after work. However, in many ways, this machine does work out the kinks in your bulk bag discharge system. A massaging system will allow for a more consistent flow of material during daily tasks, as well as a more thorough bag-emptying process to ensure nothing gets left behind after discharging.
To determine what your bulk bag discharging system needs in regard to its flow properties, carry out a flow test on the material that will move through it on a regular basis. Facilities that don’t have the tools for carrying out a flow test can consult their equipment supplier about carrying them out. The Conveyor Equipment Manufacturer’s Association has a series of standards for flow tests that include calculating measurements such as:
- Bulk material density (loose and compact)
- Particle size
- Particle shape
- Angle of slide
- Angle of repose
Consulting a professional about such properties will help you find a discharge system that meets your requirements. If you’re not optimizing your discharge system for the material it will be handling, you’re already starting out this process on the wrong foot.
Know How Explosive Your Material Is
Before committing to a bulk bag discharging system, you need to have an understanding of how explosive the material it will be moving is. You can do this by running tests with the help of an explosive testing lab.
The combustible nature of the material will determine factors of the discharging system you require, such as specific bulk bag fabric and certain properties of your discharge hopper.
Improperly unloading combustible material from a bulk bag discharging system can lead to dangerous static discharges that can cause the material to combust. That’s right, simply moving the bag can be dangerous without the right equipment. It might sound crazy because we’re talking about such small particles but, it’s the truth.
Luckily, you can avoid these hazardous conditions by keeping everything up to OSHA and especially NFPA guidelines. Staying in accordance with OSHA and NFPA standards is one of the most important steps any workplace can take to maintain legal and safe operations on a daily basis.
One way of ensuring safe unloading practices with highly combustible material is by grounding equipment. Safely grounding all of the equipment in your discharge system will help promote a less intense static discharge when unloading bulk bags. Optimizing your hopper for combustible material is also a great way to combat static discharge. For instance, using inert gas when following the guidelines laid out in Chapter 2 of NFPA 69 can be an effective way of safely discharging combustible material. In order to do this, the inert gas is typically made of helium or argon.
Understand Your Lifting Requirements
When choosing a bulk bag discharging system, it’s vital to know what kind of lifting requirements it has to meet. If the system you choose can’t make those requirements, it poses a danger to all nearby employees. As small as the material going through the discharging system is, the accumulation of such material over time can become quite heavy.
This material packs on weight to equipment that is already heavy to begin with. That’s why you have to make sure that a discharging system’s design rating matches up with your facility’s handling needs before investing in one.
The design rating is simply the structure’s maximum lifting capacity. Determine what your facility needs by having a professional calculate the weight that the hoist, filled bulk bag, and additional systems such as a monorail add to your facility’s structure, as well as the discharge frame being used in your bulk bag system. Even details such as the bouncing of bulk bags during daily operations require consideration when figuring out what kind of load your discharge frame can handle.
These tips for selecting a bulk bag discharging system will help you understand some of the nuances that go into finding the right one for your facility. While they essentially all serve the same functions, the manufacturing of bulk bag discharging systems is not a one-size-fits-all kind of scenario. At DoverMEI we can help you find and install a wide range of bulk bag systems and equipment, as well as pneumatic blower packages to ensure your facility functions at its highest potential each and every workday.