Ugly Chute Contest – your vote is needed!

July 29, 2015
|||Ugly Chute #4 – Material spilled off the belt because the stream was not centered properly.|Ugly Chute #5 – Excessive impact pressure from coal coming off belt head pulley caused abrasive wear through a ceramic liner

In February 2014, we held an “Ugly Hopper Contest”, asking for your input on some “ugly” hoppers we’ve come across. The contest was meant to illustrate some of the things that might happen when a hopper or storage vessel was “ugly”, or inadequately designed to handle its bulk solid; ugly hoppers may exhibit poor operating behaviors due to erratic flow or flow stoppages, segregation, uncontrolled flooding or discharge rate restrictions, or may become damaged due to hammer rash, abrasive wear, or structural failure.

But what about bulk solids transfer chutes – what can happen when a chute isn’t properly designed for the job? At Jenike & Johanson we sometimes call these poor guys “ugly chutes”. Much like ugly hoppers, ugly chutes also exhibit poor operating behaviors and sometimes become damaged.

Even though a transfer chute may appear to be a rather small, unassuming portion of your process, a lot can go wrong when you have an ugly one at your facility. Poorly designed chutes can cause expensive production bottlenecks and lead to problems that cost valuable man hours and downtime to fix. The most common problems with ugly chutes include:

  • Material plugging and/or buildup
  • Abrasive wear of chute wall or liner
  • Dust generation
  • Material spillage
  • Belt off-tracking and/or excessive impact on the receiving belt

We’re not endorsing “chute-shaming”, but let’s take a look at some really ugly chutes we’ve seen, shall we?

Ugly Chute #1 – Sticky fines building up in a “rhino horn” on an impact/bash plate, leading to frequent plugging

Ugly Chute #2 – Cohesive material building up in corners, choking chute capacity and leading to plugging

Ugly Chute #3 – Cohesive material building up on ledges in rock box, leading to plugging

Ugly Chute #4 – Material spilled off the belt because the stream was not centered properly.

Ugly Chute #5 – Excessive impact pressure from coal coming off belt head pulley caused abrasive wear through a ceramic liner, down to bare metal.

Ugly Chute #6 – Sharp impact angle causes momentum dissipation in salt coming off belt, can cause dust, abrasive wear, and plugging.

The issues experienced by these six unfortunate chutes limited each plant’s production capacity, caused unacceptable process downtime, and required downtime to fix. But don’t worry, there’s still hope for all those ugly chutes out there – many of the problems you see in those chutes above can be fixed! Here at J&J, our clients frequently come to us so that we can give their unseemly transfer chutes the makeovers they so desperately need. We regularly conduct on-site inspections of transfer chutes (and other bulk solids handling equipment), perform analytical modeling using our proprietary discrete element modeling (DEM) software to simulate particle flow, and provide engineering analysis and design recommendations so that your transfer chutes can go from ugly and problematic, to beautiful and functional in no time! So let’s hear from you – which chute above do you think is the ugliest? Please reply with your vote. We’ll announce the winner in a future blog!

As with the ugly hopper contest, please share your photos and short stories of any “ugly chutes” you’ve come across by e-mailing


And just so you know, you all elected the ugly hopper below as the winner of our Ugly Hopper Contest!

Ugly hopper handling blue dye
Ugly Hopper #3

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