A pneumatic conveyor is a machine used to move materials throughout an industrial plant or manufacturing facility. Pneumatic conveyor systems serve as an alternate to mechanical conveyors such as belts and vibrating trays. Instead of using traditional motors, they rely on air pressure to draw materials from various containers and transport them to other parts of the building for mixing or processing. Each conveyor utilizes either forced-air pressure or vacuum technology to push or pull materials using air. Forced-air systems are best for moving materials to multiple locations using a split tubing or pipe configuration, while vacuum units can only pull materials to a single location.
These systems are used in many industries. In agricultural settings, a pneumatic grain conveyor moves corn and other grains into or out of silos and other storage tanks. Pneumatic conveyors are also widely used in chemical and pharmaceutical manufacturing, as well as in the thermoplastics industry. These systems help transport various ingredients for food processing, and may also be used to manufacture cosmetics and detergents. Some energy producers rely on a pneumatic conveyor system to move oil and other fuel products.
There are two basic types of pneumatic conveyor system to choose from, and each is characterized by how it transports materials. Dilute-phase systems move materials at very high speeds and pressure levels, which dilutes the products so they are suspended in the air within the system. Dense-phase conveyors move materials more slowly, so they are not suspended in the air. A dense-phase system may move liquids along a pipe, while a dilute-phase model might be used to blow minute grain particles through a duct or tube.
A pneumatic conveyor offers a number of advantages over comparable mechanical systems. They can be modified to fit almost any floor layout, and can be used to transport materials from different areas or levels of the building. They also run over a larger area, and are easier to maintain than mechanical conveyors. Finally, pneumatic systems tend to produce less dust and fewer emissions than belt-based conveyor systems.
Despite their many benefits, pneumatic conveyors are also associated with a number of potential drawbacks that may deter some buyers. They cost more in terms of upfront equipment costs, and often cost more to operate each month. The design is also more complex, and may require the assistance of professional designers or consultants in order to create an effective conveyor system.