A diversified group of materials-handling machines specialized in design and construction for handling unpackaged, divided materials.
Solid, free-flowing materials are said to be in bulk. The handling of these materials requires that the machinery both support their weight and confine them either to a desired path of travel for continuous conveyance or within a container for handling in discrete loads. Wet or sticky materials may also be handled successfully by some of the same machines used for bulk materials. Characteristics of materials that affect the selection of equipment for bulk handling include (1) the size of component particles, (2) flowability, (3) abrasiveness, (4) corrosiveness, (5) sensitivity to contamination, and (6) general conditions such as dampness, structure, or the presence of dust or noxious fumes.
Equipment that transports material continuously in a horizontal, inclined, or vertical direction in a predetermined path is a form of conveyor. The many different means used to convey bulk materials include gravity, belt, apron, bucket, skip hoist, flight or screw, dragline, vibrating or oscillating, and pneumatic conveyors. Wheel or roller conveyors cannot handle bulk materials.
Gravity chutes are the only unpowered conveyors used for bulk material. They permit only a downward movement of material.
Belt conveyors of many varieties move bulk materials. Fabric belt conveyors have essentially the same operating components as those used for package service; however, these components are constructed more ruggedly to stand up under the more rigorous conditions imposed by carrying coal, gravel, chemicals, and other similar heavy bulk materials. Belts may also be made of such materials as rubber, metal, or open wire. Their advantages include low power requirements, high capacities, simplicity, and dependable operation.
An apron conveyor is a form of belt conveyor, but differs in that the carrying surface is constructed of a series of metal aprons or pans pivotally linked together to make a continuous loop. This type of conveyor is suitable for handling large quantities of bulk material under severe service conditions. Apron conveyors are most suitable for heavy, abrasive, or lumpy materials.
Bucket conveyors are constructed of a series of buckets attached to one or two strands of chain or in some instances to a belt. These conveyors are most suitable for operating on a steep incline or vertical path, sometimes being referred to as elevating conveyors. This type of conveyor is most ideal for bulk materials such as sand or coal.
Flight conveyors employ the use of flights, or bars attached to single or double strands of chain. The bars drag or push the material within an enclosed duct or trough. These are frequently referred to as drag conveyors. This type of conveyor is commonly used for moving bulk material such as coal or metal chips from machine tools.
Spiral or screw conveyors rotate upon a single shaft to which are attached flights in the form of a helical screw. When the screw turns within a stationary trough or casing, the material advances. These conveyors are used primarily for bulk materials of fine and moderate sizes, and can move material on horizontal, inclined, or vertical planes.
Vibrating or oscillating conveyors employ the use of a pan or trough bed, attached to a vibrator or oscillating mechanism, designed to move forward slowly and draw back quickly. The inertia of the material keeps the load from being carried back so that it is automatically placed in a more advanced position on the carrying surface.
Pneumatic, or air, conveyors employ air as the propelling media to move materials. One implementation of this principle is the movement within an air duct of cylindrical carriers, into which are placed currency, mail, and small parts for movement from one point to discharge at one of several points by use of diverters. Pneumatic pipe conveyors are widely used in industry, where they move granular materials, fine to moderate size, in original bulk form without need of internal carriers.
Power cranes and shovels perform many operations moving bulk materials in discrete loads. When functioning as cranes and fitted with the many below-the-hook devices available, they are used on construction jobs and in and around industrial plants. Such fittings as magnets, buckets, grabs, skull-crackers, and pile drivers enable cranes to handle many products. The machines of the convertible, full-revolving type are mounted on crawlers, trucks, or wheels. Specialized front-end operating equipment is required for clamshell, dragline, lifting-crane, pile-driver, shovel, and hoe operations. Specialized equipment for mechanized pit mining has been developed. Power cranes, shovels, and scoops are actively engaged in strip mines, quarries, and other earth-moving operations. See Materials-handling equipment, Monorail