Cyclonaire’s automated mixing system solution was a success for Saint-Gobain Ceramic Materials.
Manually weighing and dumping 50-pound bags of raw material stifled productivity and created an unsafe workplace at the Saint-Gobain Ceramic Materials manufacturing facility in Niagara Falls, NY. However, with the help of Cyclonaire Corporation and the installation of proven equipment to improve efficiency, the facility is back on track.
Cyclonaire, a manufacturer of bulk material handling systems and controls, specializing in pneumatic conveying, won the bid to outfit the Saint-Gobain facility with a much-needed material transfer for an automated mixing system. The Niagara Falls plant is one of 150 Saint-Gobain operations in North America manufacturing glass, building products, and high performance materials. Specifically, the company produces a proprietary premium abrasive grain for various customers.
Cyclonaire proposed and installed a Bulk Bag Station and related equipment at the facility to load and convey raw material – without the risk of spillage, inaccuracies in ingredient proportions, and operator injuries. The compact, easy-to-operate equipment reduced material losses and substantially lowered maintenance expenses. The Cyclonaire Bulk Bag Station hoists and positions the big bags into the unloading position with an electric hoist and powered trolley.
Once the bag spout is untied, material flows into an enclosed hopper connected to a one-cubic-foot MP-1 CycloLok® – a compact, dense phase conveyor that is suitable as an alternative or replacement for conventional rotary airlocks. The hopper is fitted with a door for easy access to the bag opening. Air for the convey process is stored in a 60-gallon air receiver next to the Cyclonaire CycloLok. The dense phase process conveys the raw material 35 feet from the Bulk Bag Station through a 2 ½-inch convey line to a 15-cubic-foot weigh hopper.
In this application, the weigh hopper, CycloLok, and convey line were each constructed of 304 stainless steel to protect against corrosion. Additionally, the hopper was equipped with load cells for process weighing.
VibraPad™ Aerators from Cyclonaire also were fitted to the weigh hopper to aid smooth material discharge. VibraPad Aerators combine fluidizing air with mechanical vibration to set dry bulk materials in motion and keep them moving – increasing the flow rate and consistency of dry bulk materials. These small, low-cost devices eliminate the bridging, rat-holing, and compacting of dry bulk solids that can cause plugging, slow or erratic conveying, and processing downtime.
The new automated unloading system has allowed the Saint-Gobain Niagara Falls facility to use 2,000-pound bulk bags safely and efficiently to supply the process. Labor is more effectively utilized; the risk of injury or spillage from manually handling heavy loads of raw material is greatly reduced; and more accurate mixing of materials has been realized. The cost-effective system allows for a savings in packaging and shipping, which Saint-Gobain recovered its initial financial investment within the first year of operation.