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Tubular Drag Conveyor System Keeps Chocolate Mix Moving

April 4, 2007

Bag dump station, in front of bulk bag unloaders, feeds ingredients into the Hapman “square loop” tubular drag conveyor.

Forbes Chocolate (Broadview Heights, OH) has been growing rapidly. So much so that a new manufacturing facility was required to meet the demand for chocolate mixes. As a formulator and packager of chocolate powder mixes, Forbes needed to be able to convey and process a large amount of cocoa and other ingredients in a reliable, accurate, and efficient manner. To accomplish this task, Forbes turned to Hapman, a leading manufacturer of tubular drag conveyor, feeding, and bulk-handling systems.
Initial testing was performed at Hapman’s facilities in Kalamazoo, MI. Upon completion of testing carried out under Forbes’s observation, the project turned to the design stages.
An advantage of using tubular drag conveyors is that they are heavy-duty units that can handle large capacities and are totally enclosed. Perhaps most important is that they can also convey material on several levels and planes using one conveyor.
Working with Forbes’s engineering department, Hapman designed a complete material-handling system within the facility’s physical constraints that integrated both new and existing equipment. Also factored into the design was the ability to accommodate future capacity increases, as well as maintaining a polished, food-quality appearance.

Inclined tubular drag taking the mixed material from the blenders

The chocolate powder blending system utilizes two bulk bag unloaders that handle cocoa and cornstarch. From the bulk bag unloaders, the material is meter-fed via screw feeders into an 8-in. stainless-steel “square loop” tubular drag conveyor. Also feeding the tubular drag conveyor is a bag dump station with integral dust collection that keeps all of the collected material dust in the product stream. The bag dump station is used for putting other raw materials—delivered in bags of various sizes—into the process. Each batch has a specific raw ingredient requirement. After the premeasured ingredients are added to the conveyor, screw feeders, utilizing the batch controls, then convey specified amounts of cocoa and cornstarch from the bulk bag unloaders into the tubular drag conveyors.
Once the ingredients are elevated, the material is discharged into a centrifugal sifter and then into a diverter to be directed to one of the two blenders. The blenders, purchased separately from Hayes & Stolz Industrial Manufacturing Co. Inc. (Fort Worth, TX) but integrated into the system by Hapman, mix each batch. From the blenders, the powder is then fed into another Hapman stainless-steel 8-in. tubular drag conveyor, which elevates the completed batch to a hopper above the packaging machinery.
With the tubular drag conveyor system, Forbes Chocolate is achieving its stated goals and is in the planning stages for the next phase of its capacity expansion.
For more information on the tubular drag conveyor, contact Hapman at 800-427-6260 or www.hapman.com.