Comparing Drag Conveyors

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Below are side-by-side images comparing conveyors we’ve encountered in the field (or otherwise come across) to our SMART Conveyors™. While we write about the advantages of our system all the time, these pictures, we hope, will make the reality of our conveyors’ performance more concrete.

Dust vs. Dust Tight


The photo on the left is an image one of our sales associates took while visiting a mill in 2018. The mill had increased its output, and the open conveyor could no longer handle the capacity. It’s difficult to see in the still frame, but the material flows over the flights and back down the trough. There were other problems with the conveyor, too. The open design allowed the wind to kick up material and blow it around. The conveyor also leaked heavily—thus the piles on the ground inside and outside the building, which crews had to shovel up routinely.

In the photo on the right are our SMART Conveyors™ at Challenger Pallet & Supply in Idaho. Notice the LACK of dust. When we first installed our conveyors at Challenger, the parking lot was covered in sawdust from a leaky pneumatic conveyance system, which connected to the small silo in the right of the frame (the white cube). Challenger later had us replace that conveyor, which drastically cleaned up their operation.

Fire vs. Fire Protection


While the photo on the left isn’t one we took (it’s from a news article), it demonstrates a problem that occurs too often: material in conveyors catches fire, and there is no easy way to put it out. Although NFPA rules stipulate that crews must be able to access a fire to combat it effectively, we’ve seen so-called “fire safety” measures that will prove little help if a fire occurs: e.g., a fire extinguisher stored by the tail of an enclosed conveyor. That fire extinguisher will be close to useless because it cannot extinguish flames inside the conveyor, and by the time crews get to the scene, the fire will already have moved through the system, possibly to the next machine.

Automated systems are really the only way to combat conveyor fires in an effective, timely manner to save infrastructure and keep fires from spreading. This is why we offer automated deluge systems with spark detection for our SMART Conveyors™. The system is designed to extinguish a fire where and when it’s detected to keep it contained and minimize damage.

Short Life vs. Long Life


On the left is a screw conveyor, which we quoted to replace earlier this year. Although the conveyor is not exceptionally old, it had reached the end of its useful life. What happened is that the screw flights had repeatedly worn through the bottom pan of the conveyor, and the maintenance crew was running out of conveyor to patch up (a common issue with long screw conveyors that handle fibrous materials). Now compare this with the SMART Conveyor™ on the right. This was one of our first SMART Conveyors™, which we installed years ago. Although a bit dusty and certainly not as pretty as when it arrived, it’s still running—with the original bottom panels.

One Beam vs. Many Beams


We show this comparison during presentations all the time, as it demonstrates one of the least appreciated advantages of our conveyors: their strength. The picture on the right shows a conveyor at a pellet plant in Canada. This conveyor is designed like many others we encounter: it requires multiple support towers and beams. Supports are often a hidden cost when purchasing a conveyor, as manufacturers commonly quote them separately from the conveyor itself. Depending on the length and height of the system, supports can add significant costs, not only in material but in time and labor during installation.

SMART Conveyors™, on the other hand, are built extremely strong and require less than half the support towers of some of our competitors, and no support beams are required. This means more of our clients’ budgets go toward a quality machine than structural steel. Installations go much faster, too. There’s also less for crews to run into with front loaders when all is said and done. Less ground space is required for our design.

Pellet Grinding vs. Pellet Pushing


The conveyor on the left displays several issues we run across in single-chain drag conveyors. The paddles are bent and wear the sidewalls as they scrape them (unevenly). This conveyor has an added problem because the material sticks to the paddles. What’s worse is that the conveyor ground up too many of the pellets it conveyed.

On the right is our conveyor, which replaced the one on the left. Notice that nothing remains on the paddles, and they don’t rub the floors or sidewalls.

The client has been so impressed with our conveyor that when a fire broke out at their mill, they ordered more for use elsewhere in their facility.

It’s a common sequence of events with our customers—not the fires, that is, but reordering SMART Conveyors™. Once they experience our superior system, they understand its benefits and return for additional conveyors. SMART Conveyors™ cost less to operate and have fewer problems than many other drag chain conveyors—a fact that our repeat customers can testify to.

Don’t settle for the status quo when it comes to material handling when that status quo means piles of dust, fire hazards, extra maintenance, wasted budgetary funds, and damaged materials. Get a conveyor that will go the extra mile. Buy SMART.

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