The Trials Of A Trial And Error Approach

September 26, 2014

Let’s set the stage…you’re an engineer at a manufacturing company that handles a bulk solid material at some point in your production chain. Many of your colleagues are also engineers, and very intelligent ones at that. You and your co-workers are tasked with designing a new silo or bin to handle and store the main ingredient for your company’s primary product. You know your material is free-flowing (“The angle of repose is only 20°!”), and it doesn’t gain cohesive strength when you squeeze it. You decide to implement a design consisting of a cylinder and an easily-fabricated 60° cone, because the material is free-flowing, right?

Months later, the silo is installed at your plant, and it’s finally filled with material for the first time. Plant personnel begin to discharge material, then you notice something…

Hmmm…some of the material is getting stuck at the walls. Isn’t it supposed to be free-flowing? This isn’t good…you know from your experiences with other materials at your facility that you don’t want this product to discharge in funnel flow because it degrades over time and segregates. No matter, you’ll just stick a nice and smooth liner inside the hopper, and the problem will be solved….

Nope, material still gets stuck along the walls!

Okay, what if we replace the 60° conical hopper with an 80° conical hopper, just to make absolutely sure we get mass flow…alright, now the material isn’t flowing at all!

Now what??

If you’re reading this blog, you’re probably aware that this situation can occur all too often. While it may be successful eventually, this trial and error approach can be incredibly costly, in terms of expenses, process downtime, and employee headaches.

Not to worry – Jenike & Johanson is here to help. We deliver courses year-round to train you and your colleagues for whatever problems your bulk solids materials can throw at you, and we provide both functional and structural engineering design services to custom-tailor solutions to meet your needs to take out that pesky trial-and-error approach once and for all.

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