Vacuum Conveyors Transport Plastic Granules Safely

The PIAB IC compressed-air-driven vacuum conveyors are replacing mechanical conveyors at Tectubes.

Tectubes (Pitman, NJ), a manufacturer of aluminum and plastic tube packaging, used to transport the plastic granules that make up the tubes with mechanical conveyors. Their use required a certain amount of manual handling, which added up in labor costs and presented some risk of employee injury. Tectubes decided it was time for a change.

“Handling all of the plastic granules was too labor intensive, and we sought a system that would lower our expenses by automating and streamlining the process,” said Tommy Andersson, a production engineer at Tectubes.

Not only did Tectubes want to reduce overall material handling time, but Tectubes was concerned that workers were having to do unnecessary bending, lifting, and other movements that could be detrimental to their health.

PIAB (Hingham, MA), a global provider of industrial vacuum technology, recommended replacing the mechanical conveyors with new compressed-air-driven vacuum conveyors specifically designed for industrial applications. The PIAB industrial conveying (IC) system uses a vacuum pump to draw the granules from a feed station through a conveying tube and into a closed container. When the container is full, the vacuum pump is stopped and a valve at the bottom of the container opens and discharges the material from the tube. Completely enclosed and made of high-grade steel, the IC series protects users from inhaling potentially harmful ingredients while protecting materials from outside contaminants. Also, its filter design traps particles to prevent dust and contamination. During each cycle, compressed air cleans the filter to ensure a hygienic environment; dust and contamination in the plant are eliminated. Additionally, the suction and discharge times are controlled by a pneumatic control system to allow for optimum consistency.

The IC series is compact, conserving the floor space that would have been used for space-demanding alternative handling methods like belt or screw conveyors. Material conveyed with the IC series can be moved by pipes or hoses.

“We chose the PIAB IC series because it was easier to control and required less maintenance compared with the other methods we considered,” says Andersson. “Belt and screw conveyors require a great deal of space and involve moving parts that can break down, resulting in unwanted downtime and high maintenance costs.”

PIAB’s COAX multistage vacuum ejector technology operates at a rate of up to 2 tons per hour of plastic flakes and consumes less energy than other compressed-air-driven technologies, the company claims.

Since the installation of the first conveyor a few months ago, Tectubes has reduced its maintenance costs, energy consumption, dust contamination, and employee-related injuries. “PIAB’s vacuum conveyors have proven extremely reliable,” said Andersson. “We now have 10 of the PIAB systems running, and they are easy to operate and require almost zero maintenance. Our operators are now able to focus on more-productive tasks, instead of spending time manually handling the plastic granules.”


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