Different Types of Bucket Elevators

The term bucket elevators generally refer to two different types of system although quite similar in principle, the applications are quite different.

 Somebody searching for information on a bucket elevator will find themselves presented with two types. These are belt & bucket elevator and swinging pendulum bucket elevators.

A belt & bucket elevator consists of buckets that are fixed to a belt and operate at high speeds. The product begins at the inlet, moves around the elevator at a high speed before the product is fired out of the outlet. The elevator uses centrifugal force and due to this, they can only operate at one speed. If the speed is too fast the product will stay inside the bucket and not leave, if the speed is too slow the product will not have enough energy to leave the buckets and exit through the outlet, so it’s all about finding the happy medium.

The swinging pendulum bucket elevators feature plastic or stainless-steel buckets mounted to swinging arms on parallel chains. Like the belt & bucket elevator the product travels in buckets from the input to the output, however, the swinging pendulum bucket elevator can have several inputs and outputs to allow for more layout options. This bucket elevator is slower but much more gentle on the product.

Belt and Bucket Elevator

The belt & bucket elevator is used primarily for grains, sand and granule type applications or anything hard in substance that can withstand high speeds and rough handling. These machines tend to be cheaper in price and allow excellent throughput rates (100s of cubic metres per second) which results in faster handling of material within the production process by using one machine rather than investing in several machines that individually operate at a lower throughput rate and needing to buy more to match the throughput of the belt and bucket elevator. This saves on space, costs of several machines, maintenance costs and energy costs. All things that can hinder production. However, the machines can only be assembled in a straight line leaving little flexibility in design and area it can be placed within the production process. They are also limited to one inlet and one outlet meaning that options are restricted. Not all products would benefit from this type of bucket elevator due to the speed the product is released at and it can cause damage to more delicate products. Due to the speed comes a lot of waste and waste = money lost. Some products cannot handle the speed of the applications and therefore can spill over. They also tend to be very noisy and cannot easily be disassembled to be cleaned.

Swinglink Bucket Elevator

The swinging pendulum bucket elevator is more commonly used in the food industry. It is far slower than the belt & bucket elevator and therefore has a lower throughput rate. Although this can be conceived as a negative it allows for a gentler application to products and is also safer. Whereas the belt & bucket elevator offers little flexibility in the design and layout the swinging pendulum bucket elevator is more flexible. Instead of having to reserve a space for the machine, it can be designed to go above other machines to prevent taking up unnecessary space within the production process. Unlike the belt & bucket elevator, the swinging pendulum bucket elevator is easier to dismantle and clean allowing for minimised downtime when the machines need to be cleaned and serviced. The trad-off of the swinging pendulum bucket elevator being gentler of product is it is limited to a throughput of 30 cubic meters of product in an hour. Although the belt & bucket elevator is much faster the swinging pendulum bucket elevator produces far less waste due to the slower nature of the machine. The swinging pendulum bucket is far more energy efficient for example, a 20m long elevator can operate effectively on a 0.75 kW motor. Overall the pendulum bucket elevator is reliable providing you invest in good quality brands, it is more expensive in price compared with the belt & bucket elevator, however, offers far more flexibility and accuracy within the process.