AirSweep® Clears the Material Blocks—and Factory Stress
The best material flow systems don’t just fix bridging or blocking—they make your life easier.
Hammering is dangerous, exhausting, noisy and irritating. Vibrators and fluidizers are so ineffective that you still need to stop operations for regular cleanings. What’s the point of a material activation system that only does half its job, or creates new problems for factory managers?
Hammers were ineffective and annoying
Bunge is an agribusiness and food ingredient company based in the USA, dedicated to improving the global food supply chain. They wanted a complete and convenient way to achieve on-demand flow when handling rice bran in their bulk bag filling operation/process.
However, the rice bran was clumping in their hoppers and silos—a common issue for materials that hold moisture and are sensitive to humid environments. Workers had to hammer the vessels, which was ineffective and stressful for everyone in the factory. “It was like fingernails on the chalkboard. You wanted to get away from it,” said John Pappenheim, Bunge’s Maintenance Manager. “It also damaged the equipment and posed possible injury to employees.
The company was planning to set up a new bulk bag filling station, so they needed to improve material flow to keep up with the filling operation.
Low maintenance, high performance
After reviewing their options, they chose to install the AirSweep system. Four AirSweep® VA-06 units were placed 90 degrees apart on the sloped walls of the rice bran bin. The VA-06 Airsweep was ideal for this application as the 3’ sweep diameter would cover each of the 4 sloped walls perfectly in the customers’ vessel.
Installation was simple and inexpensive. The couplings were pre-attached to the vessel, so it was just a matter of threading the AirSweeps into position and connecting to the existing compressed air and electrical system. “Any electrician can wire it up. Everything was pretty straightforward and I would absolutely recommend it.”
It was equally easy to order parts and accessories. “When we needed extra parts, Control Concepts’ customer service was extremely helpful and fast. If we had to get those parts from China, it may have taken months to get them,” said Pappenheim.
After seeing how well AirSweep® worked on rice bran, Bunge has incorporated the system in their masa flour factory for a cyclone application. Like rice bran, masa flour is also prone to bridging and ratholing, however the AirSweep® has proved successful in that application as well!
Airsweep® quietly gets the job done
The company saw a marked difference in material flow—and worker safety. They have no clumping issues, no dents on machines, no irritating hammering noises. The AirSweep’s soft hiss can barely be heard. It just quietly gets the job done. Added Pappenheim: “In fact, we are looking into expanding to use in other parts of our plant.”