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Aeromechanical Conveyors Move Sand-Like Material for Pharmaceutical Distribution Site

February 28, 2013
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Potter Group Logistics, a UK firm providing warehousing and distribution services to many industry sectors, approached UniTrak last year with a problem. A client had asked The Potter Group to move a fine, sand-like material used in the pharmaceutical industry. The product had to go from bulk bags to tankers.
    This task fell slightly beyond the company’s core operational focus. But, being an entrepreneurial business, Potter Group Logistics decided to do what it had done in the past when clients requested an unproven solution or one outside its experts’ usual experience: undertake a case study that incorporates external expertise.

    So Potter Group Logistics went looking for a way to convey this product, on a daily basis, that was:

• Low maintenance
• Contamination free
• Secure, resulting in no loss of product
• Fast and easy to use
• Cost effective

    The company contacted UniTrak, thinking that one of the M-100 Powderflight aeromechanical conveyors could work to move the client’s product. But was the M-100 the “perfect” solution? The Potter Group would not undertake the project for this client if it was not. Excellence must be maintained.
    To begin the process of deciding upon a solution, UniTrak’s representatives made an initial visit to The Potter Group’s Knowsley, UK facility, which offloads, handles, stores, and ships pharmaceuticals. The purpose was to assess the logistics of the problem and the space in which any solution would be implemented. They found that the product in question has a tendency to be easily blown and to clog and stick to the workings of machinery. Still, the M-100 Powderflight looked as if it could be adapted to handle the job. But because this was unproven, Phil Booth, sales manager at UniTrak, wanted to conduct further testing before recommending the M-100, or any of the company’s machines.
    This testing took place at the UniTrak facility in the UK, with Bryan Mulvey, general manager at Potter Group Logistics, in attendance. A sample of the actual product to be moved was used in the test.

The Results
The M-100 Powderflight machine, which works by propelling product through a conveying tube, met all of the Potter Group’s requirements:
 
• It allows no separation of blended products.
• It keeps attrition of fragile particles to a minimum.
• Filters are not required on the receiving vessel.
• Self-emptying allows for dedicated batches of product to be conveyed.
• It provides dust-tight conveying, so there is no contamination or loss of product.
• It operates at any angle, so, if the specifications of tankers were to change, the machinery could be adjusted easily.
• It enables regulation of the feed of the product, which allows material to be moved from one-ton bulk bags to a tanker in just four minutes.  

    In fact, this last attribute, being fast and easy to use, was most significant. The experienced engineers at UniTrak who tested the M-100 discovered that the key to making it work with the fine, sand-like material was optimizing control of the product’s supply, which enabled the conveyor to operate at capacity.
    The following features, which are standard to all of UniTrak’s aeromechanical conveyors, were also important in fulfilling Potter Group Logistics’ requirements:

• Outriggered bearings prolong bearing life.
• Twin tension screws ensure easy adjustment for maintenance.
• The geared motor drive allows for speed selection to optimize performance and prolong life.
• The optional pressurized double seal can be used if inert gas purging is required.
• The optional integral feed screw offers low headroom in-feed solutions, as well as consistent feeding of different materials, such as TiO2.
• The bag dump hood (a dust containment option) conforms to all health and safety requirements.
• The inspection hatch provides easy access for cleanout and for adjusting rope tension.
• The top- or bottom-mounted drive can be positioned to suit the customers’ site or process conditions.
• Construction is in mild steel or stainless steel.
• Standard or tailor-made in-feed arrangements optimize performance.
• The V-belt drive offers additional overload protection.

The Outcome
The M-100 Powderflight was the best solution and was installed at the Potter Group’s facility in Knowsley, UK. UniTrak’s thorough approach to testing and to satisfying requirements gave Potter Group Logistics the confidence to diversity services for its customers, and the project has been a complete success.

    For more information, contact Marie Lytle, UniTrak, at 905-885-8168, ext 109, or marie@unitrak.com, or visit www.unitrak.com.

UniTrak Corporation Ltd.