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What Design Factors Should Be Considered When Implementing a New Bucket Elevator System?


If you are involved with the justification in capital expenditure for a new bucket elevator system, there are several design factors to consider. Factors such as the capacity of the buckets, the dimensions of the elevator, the type of product being handled and the nature of the feed, its travel and discharge positions can all dictate its overall performance.

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Belt and bucket solutions use centrifugal belt driven design normally only having one inlet and one outlet and is mainly used in dredging silo transfer. Alternatively, the pendulum bucket elevator is used for careful handling with multi entry and discharge configuration.

Bucket elevators work by carrying product from an inlet point to a discharge point in an open bucket. Product is static in the bottom of the bucket throughout the process, eliminating the possibility of damage during travel. A continuous line of open, overlapping buckets move past the inlet, where a controlled and consistent stream of product is fed, partially filling each bucket. The buckets are moved through the bucket circuit on two chains. Apart from being stabilised at the inlet, the buckets swing freely between the chains, remaining upright through the circuit until tipped.

Let’s look at the main design factors and how they affect performance.

1) Material

The characteristics of the material being handled, such as bulk density, fragility, moisture level, weight and volume will affect how well your bucket elevator system performs. As an example, consider an elevator bucket designed to handle chemical powder. In this case, a plastic/polymer bucket is more suitable for certain product handling whereas stainless-steel buckets are needed for products in the food industry or perhaps corrosive materials. On the other hand, if you're dealing with very dense or coarse material, then obviously steel buckets with steel chains are needed to sustain long-term heavier handling. Industrial bucket elevators are generally not used for wet or sludge-like materials.

2) Capacity

Elevator buckets should be sized based on how much throughput the system needs to handle at any given time. For example, in an application where large quantities of dry food items like cereals are processed requiring gentle handling especially at a number of different discharge points, it would be crucial to design a bucket fill capacity to maximise the volume of product moved per hour rather than weight. Gough has its own software, calculation procedures and knowledge to identify the right solution for your product.

3) Dimensions

The dimensions of both the elevator (boot length, vertical and upper section) and the buckets (length, width and depth) are critical factors in its design. The measurements of the system should fit within any space constraints or access requirements that already exist in your facility. For all applications the configuration or shape of the bucket elevator can be designed to suit for example, configurations such as J, or Z, or T or C with maybe an incline or loop system with single or multiple inlet positions and single or multiple discharge positions can be supplied.

4) Unique Design Features

Over many years of designing, manufacturing and installation, Gough Engineering prides itself on the proven track record with customers owning Gough bucket elevators. We can provide support in other important elevator features to accommodate all your requirements and can include for example; drive position located on the upper or lower elevator sections for ease of access, removable trays, viewing ports, single or double bucket rows, safe access and inspection points with interlocks, unique discharge chutes and transfers.

Patented Design Features

Bucket elevator systems offer a reliable and effective method of conveying a wide range of products around a manufacturing environment. Pendulum type bucket elevators are generally considered to be one of the most gentle and controlled methods of transferring products, offering real flexibility when considering layouts and throughputs. As well as construction and motor design, there are two additional features important to the design of your elevator, that of buckets and chains.

Swinglink® Pendulum Buckets

Gough Swinglink® bucket elevators use pendulum buckets that swing freely during travel. The product rests safely in the bottom of the buckets, ideal for handling fragile products gently. Buckets can be easily removed and replaced by hand without tools for fast cleaning changeover operations. 100 buckets can be replaced in less than 20 minutes for example. Buckets are available in: Food Grade Polypropylene, Metal Detectable Polymer, Stainless or Carbon Steel

Swinglink® Elevator Chains

The chains are a patented design fitted with roller arms to carry the elevator buckets. The chains are connected by shafts and sprockets, which synchronise the movement of the chains, keeping the buckets inline, horizontal, and parallel. Chain material options include: Carbon Steel, Zinc Plated Carbon Steel, Grade 304L Stainless Steel, Glass filled Nylon (for abrasive applications), Acetal Plastic (FDA Approved), Heavy duty chain, suitable for conveying high-density products, and extra high (up to 70 metre) elevations.


Find Out More

At Gough Engineering, we provide a selection of bucket elevator solutions for dry product handling in a wide range of sectors. To discuss your application or find out more about our products, please call 01782 567770 today.

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