Eight Questions to Kick Off Designing Your Dry Bulk Material Handling System

Eight Questions to Kick Off Designing Your Dry Bulk Material Handling System

You don’t know what you don’t understand. And when it comes to designing a dry bulk material handling system, there is a lot to consider to achieve the desired result. After all, plant efficiencies, labor usage, production goals, company reputation and profit are on the line.

Over the decades, the Magnum Systems team has designed, engineered, project-managed, serviced and supported bulk material handling systems from the ground up and identified new ways to solve challenges through equipment integration and automation. We deal with bulk material handling across critical industries. When we kick off a project, we apply what we learn about your unique operations to solve the issues you know. Perhaps most importantly, we use our gained collective knowledge to avoid the ones you might not see coming down the line.

If you’re about to design your new dry bulk material handling system, answering the following eight questions will get your project off to the best start (and finish) possible.

  1. What product will the system pneumatically convey?

This is the first and easiest question. Whether you’re conveying fertilizer, flour, sugar, limestone, pellet fuels or bowling balls, your product’s characteristics dictate every other decision down the line.

  1. Where is your product coming from and where do you want it to go?

Are you unloading from rail or truck? Silo storage or straight to bins and hoppers? Will products be mixed along the line? It’s critical to engineer and integrate time, money and labor-saving components from the start. Then, at the end of the line, integrating packaging and palletizing solutions for your dry bulk materials ensures production efficiency and profitability for your entire process.

  1. How far is the product being conveyed, and how many turns will it take along the way?

Knowing the conveying distance and number of elbow counts lets you correctly size your system. Even the elevation level of your plant can affect the type of system, especially if conveying longer distances or with multiple elbows. Higher elevations have thinner air and might necessitate a vacuum system.

  1. What is the material of construction?

Carbon steel? Painted or not? Stainless steel? The construction material has a significant impact on system pricing. Depending on your answer to question one (your product), you may or may not have a choice. For example, food and pharma industry products are conveyed on stainless steel, as are caustic products. Stainless steel doesn’t rust and is cleaner but also costlier.

Depending on the options you want, requirements, and product conveyed, the construction material is worth discussing, especially if your product allows a choice.

  1. What are the building or facility access points?

If it’s happened to you once, it usually never happens again. You purchase furniture or appliances for your home and realize upon delivery there is no entry space wide enough to get them through. The same applies to designing a dry bulk material handling system. A six-foot diameter hopper cannot be part of the system if only a three-foot access door is available. Design changes and manufacturing re-sized equipment or components are serious and expensive setbacks at this stage.

  1. What is your timeline?

Standard dry bulk material handling systems can be online faster than customized systems. Reviewing your timeline from the start ensures your line is ready on time. Working backward from the start date can mean the difference between settling for what can be done in a timeframe and a system that will serve your needs for years of growth to come.

  1. Is your system design future-ready?

No doubt, intelligent instrumentations are synonymous with efficiency. Using robotics can overcome manual palletizing system challenges. But maybe it’s time to include predictive analysis in your new or upgraded dry bulk material handling system. Why?

  • Smart instruments display critical system information. Warnings of upcoming component replacement or impending failure let you plan maintenance rather than react in an emergency.
  • Since the system alerts of maintenance due, parts can be ordered as needed, not stocked and stored.
  • PLC app technology is second nature for a younger, digitally native workforce. Your system is state-of-the-art and operating it is more intuitive for younger workers if done via technology.
  1. Is contracting an engineering firm necessary?

Engineering firms often are contracted to design and specify dry bulk material handling systems. For the best outcome, it’s important to partner with a team that’s worked in your industry, conveyed your product type, and has proven outcomes across many facility variations—real hands-on history.

A design/build systems integrator, like Magnum Systems, is with you end-to-end and beyond with ongoing service and maintenance. No one gets to know your equipment better than those who initially designed it based on real-world experience.

A Final Consideration on Designing a Dry Bulk Material Handling System

Experience is the greatest teacher of all. Experience is what lets you note details and avoid issues others can’t. Through experience, the Magnum Systems team catches potential problems on the drawing board, not at installation time, resulting in better, more efficient and cost-effective dry bulk material handling systems.

If your facility needs a standard or customized material handling system, contact us to discuss your needs.