By Peter Vila, Managing Director of SEEPEX Australia.
The pump industry relies on expertise from a large and varied range of specialists, from experts in particular pump types to those with an intimate understanding of pump reliability; and from researchers who delve into the particulars of pump curves to experts in pump efficiency. To draw upon the wealth of expert knowledge the Australian pump industry has to offer, Pump Industry has established a panel of experts to answer all your pumping questions.
This edition of Ask an Expert will look at open hopper progressive cavity pumps versus conveyors or tote bins.
Q: How can using progressive cavity (PC) pumps with an open hopper instead of conveyors or tote bins enhance the work environment and reduce costs?
A: PC open hopper pumps are adept at transporting media with or without entrained solids and with little to no flowability. The combination of auger feed screw and hopper positively feed viscous products to the conveying elements, ensuring optimum product handling. They are successfully utilised in various industries but stand out in the following applications.
Food waste applications
Traditionally, fruit waste from juicing machines and other food waste products have been transported to external collection points via conveyor systems. Another method was to remove food waste using tote bins. When production increased then the number of tote bins increased, along with the labour needed to remove them, and this, in addition to essential cleaning before reintroduction to a high risk area, increased disposal costs. These systems are now proving to be redundant as a more cost effective and cleaner solution is available: an open hopper progressive cavity pump.
Once the pump is installed, food waste goes straight from the production machinery into the pump without being handled. The PC pump then rapidly removes the waste to a collection point in a hygienic, enclosed pumping system that is simple to disassemble, inspect and service in place without removing the piping.
- Enclosed system improves hygiene and reduces odours
- Automated system reduces labour costs
- Space saving compared to conveyor systems
- No manual handling, no spills
- Improved health and safety
- Major cost savings
- Enhanced working environment
In order to further reduce waste volume such as skins, peels, animal frames etc, the pumps can also be outfitted with internal rotating knives or other macerating options. For further automation in high care areas, the pumps can be supplied with a control panel, variable speed drive and level controls.
Environmental engineering applications
When it comes to health and safety, sludge waste transfer is even more problematic than food waste. A conveyor system can mean contamination of the factory floor and a health risk for operatives, unpleasant odours from being open to the environment and contamination of the new product with the old.
An automated, enclosed piping system along with an open hopper PC pump can eliminate these risks. PC pumps can be further coupled with grinding or macerating options to dewater and compact waste, thereby reducing its volume and associated costs.
PC pump manufacturers also offer intelligent combination solutions which can include dense-phase conveying with PC pump technology to transfer sludge long distances in enclosed pipelines while improving the energy efficiency of the system as a whole.
Peter Vila, Managing Director of SEEPEX Australia, is a progressive cavity pump expert. He has been involved with pumps for over 35 years. Peter spent the first five years repairing pumps and the following 30 years in technical sales, 15 of which have been with SEEPEX progressive cavity pumps.