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Mindful of maintenance

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World Cement,

Austin Anderson, Vortex Global, discusses the importance of choosing a carefully designed dry bulk handling system in order to prevent wear, extend service life and limit maintenance and downtime.

The maintenance of dry bulk handling systems can be a timely, costly, and messy endeavour. When designing the dry bulk solid handling components used in these systems, many principles must be considered to address wear and abrasion to limit maintenance, decrease production downtime, and extend a product’s service life.

The implementation of components that can be maintained and repaired in-line provides many benefits to the consumer. For example:

  • It is more cost-effective to replace parts rather than the entire valve.
  • Money and time can be saved by reducing downtime.
  • No special equipment is required.

Slide gates

Slide gates are ideal for controlling dry bulk materials such as fly ash and potash in gravity flow and dilute or dense phase pneumatic conveying applications. Since slide gates are used to handle a wide range of materials around the world, manufacturers of slide gates have been tasked with developing methods to extend the service life of these valves.

A well-manufactured slide gate should be strategically designed to allow for in-line maintenance and to help reduce the amount of downtime that facilities must face to carry out repairs when needed. Slide gates can be designed for high cycle environments, not only to prolong service life but to limit the amount of maintenance needed. The most effective way to limit maintenance requirements is to implement strategies and features to limit wear.

Bonnet seals are important for hindering material migration into the bonnet area. Otherwise, gate actuation issues, as well as dusting into the atmosphere, can occur. In the production of cement, high silica concentrations pose many environmental and occupational health hazards.

In applications where abrasive materials are being handled, wear-compensating bonnet seals can be constructed from hard polymer and compressed rubber backing. As the polymer experiences frictional wear from multiple actuations over time, the compressed rubber load seals continuously force the polymer seal against the sliding blade. This ensures a consistent seal with limited maintenance intervention, even as the hard polymer seals experience wear over time.

Bonnet seals will lose their compression load after many cycles and, therefore, must be replaced. The Vortex Titan Slide Gate is designed so that the bonnet seals can be easily replaced while the gate remains in-line. Using simple tools, the slot covers can be removed, and new bonnet seals can be driven into the milled access slots, as the worn bonnet seals are simultaneously ejected out the other side of the gate.

Titan’s Slide Gate is also equipped with replaceable abrasion-resistant liners at the gate’s inlet. The purpose of abrasion-resistant liners is to protect the gate’s inlet, blade, rollers and side seals from abrasive wear caused by the material flow stream. For added durability, the gate’s rollers are constructed using hardened steel rather than the industry-standard polymer rollers. The rollers are also cam-adjustable for in-line maintenance.

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