Wherever grain is moving efficiently, you will find vibration. Grain is a vital commodity in the bulk handling market, and the equipment that is used to handle it will work better, cleaner and faster, saving time and money, with the use of vibration. It reduces downtime and ensures the hopper walls are cleared out. Vibrators will help unload railroad hopper cars, giving a smooth flow of grain from bins, hoppers and silos. It will also make conveyors and pipes more effective keeping the grain in motion with virtually no downtime.
Secondly, vibrators and air cannons can keep machinery operating smoothly with less damage to equipment.
The days of ‘hammer rash’ and denting of equipment to get the grain moving is not efficient, and will actually create more of a flow problem in the future.
Lastly, vibration and air cannons can save lives. In grain bin accidents, workers have only two to three seconds to react. Workers can die in a grain bin in less than 30 seconds, according to the US Department of Labor. Vibration and air cannons will keep the material moving so employees do not have to climb into bins, putting themselves in danger.
A truck mounted vibrator leads to faster and more thorough unloading of product. Another solution for bottom discharge trailers which requires
no welding would be a Traila style unit which combines a piston vibrator with a suction cup.
1. Vibration saves time and money in more rapid and complete emptying of bins
Material not moving? The most likely cause is friction between the material and the bin skin. It is necessary to break that friction with vibration. Installing and using a vibrator or air cannon will keep the material flowing through the discharge.
The result? A much more efficient and reliable material flow.
Bins, silos and hoppers have been plagued with bridging, ratholing and other sticking problems which slow down the grain handling process. Air cannons make those problems disappear with a super quiet blast of air. The force of the blast loosens materials that have been clinging to the bin walls and keeps it moving using standard plant air — just 80 to 125 PSI is normally required. The air cannon’s piston is not in contact with the metal cylinder and is unaffected by temperature change whether below freezing or in heat wave environments. They can be blasted as needed, up to every few seconds and can work in tandem with other air cannons and vibrators to keep materials on the move.
The air blast does not shake the structure, only the material, making it a safe and quiet process. It creates no flame or sparks and is inexpensive when compared to other dis-chargers such as high pressure blast systems, air pads, and vibrating bin bottoms.
Vibrators can also operate to clear these four problems (pictured above), to loosen material and keep flow at a measured rate. Custom brackets made specifically for feed bin applications (or railcars or hopper trucks) help the vibrator distribute the vibration’s force evenly through the bin. Vibrators run on the power that is best for the situation — hydraulic, electric or pneumatic. Vibration helps product flow along conveyors, shakes grain (or heavy gravel) out of railcars and can even do jobs as delicate as sorting farmer’s eggs. Selecting the proper vibrator for any given situation is best handled by an engineer. He or she will take force and frequency into account as well as the type of material that needs to move. Is it dry, damp, sticky, heavy or light? Is continuous vibration or intermittent needed? Is the work taking place in a high temperature environment or in freezing temperatures? Is the environment a corrosive or a dusty grain environment that requires a fully enclosed explosion proof vibrator? All manufacturers should have technical support to steer customers in the right direction. Vibco’s expert vibrator guys are available 24/7 with engineering expertise to answer calls in person.
A vibrator can even come with a highly effective suction cup that will hold the vibrator to a flexible food tote
or a cardboard drum for compaction. This pneumatic Stik-It mount can then be moved to the next tote
without any permanent welding, bolts or fastening of any kind.
Vibrators for feed, grain and agriculture help working farmers, grain handlers, feed mills, grain terminals, elevators, and grain processing operations work faster, safer and more efficiently. No profits are left behind, stuck on sides of bins, and downtime is reduced as employees are not needed to stop what they are doing to bang on bins to re-establish flow.
Unload railcars and trucks faster & easier with vibration
Railcar shakers (vibrators specifically made to handle railroad cars) make unloading of hopper cars much more efficient so no kernel gets left behind. In the same way that railcar discharge is assisted by vibrators, trucks with hoppers can also benefit.
A vibrator slides into the female dovetail bracket which is present on most railcars
to make hopper unloading safer, easier, faster and more efficient.
Look for vibrators with a long lifespan, a coupling that delivers complete transfer of the vibration, and ones that set into the railroad car’s dovetail wedge bracket securely for less vibration noise. Field tests show that a typical railcar vibrator can lose up to 60% of its vibration transfer and, due to rattling, produce noise up to 110dB. Over time, wear in the female wedge bracket and the vibrator wedge can further degrade the fit, causing even more vibration loss and even more noise. Using vibrators will clear a railcar quickly, decreasing discharge time by up to 90%, so it is ready for the next load. A vibrator also works to compact your load so more material fits into each hopper as the hopper is re-loaded. A vibrator will reduce wasted product, and product loss. It also reduces the safety hazard and possible loss of time due to injury of personnel banging bins and railcars with sledge hammers to get products moving again.
This feed operation shows the effect of repeated hammering to get the material flowing. Known as ‘hammer rash’,
this can be completely avoided by properly mounting a vibrator or multiple vibrators if the load requires it.
2. Vibration improves longevity of equipment: tired of banging? Use a vibrator
Tired of hammering steel and aluminium bins to get material to flow? Say good-bye to hammers, mallets and shovels to sweep out railcars and clear grain bins and say hello to a new vibrator. Hammer rash and dents will make flow problems worse. Handle grain faster, safer, and more efficiently with vibrators.
Any time spent clearing clogs, cleaning overspill, using a sledgehammer on a bin, or correcting inaccurately weighed batched is wasted labour hours. Those hours can be reclaimed by installing a vibrator. Many of the traditional improvised methods to clear clogs, like using a hammer, will lead to equipment fatigue and damage. Hammer rash, bin cracks and dents only make sticking and clogging problems worse and require even more maintenance in the long run. This is true for stand-alone bins or hoppers in trucks and railcars.
Saving wear and tear on equipment with vibration is also a smart way to increase profitability. This grain handling operation was plagued with ‘ratholing’ issues.
As grain flowed quickly through one side of the bin, a vacuum-like suction was created which actually deformed the bins, causing them to dent inward where the flow was strongest.
Applied vibration would have prevented this problem by keeping the grain flowing evenly on all sides. It is important, that vibration be uniformly and properly applied. Mounting systems are one of the most important parts of the application.
If the wrong size mounting is used, or if it does not span the metal correctly, damage to the bin may occur, including cracking. Safety chains connecting the vibrator to an area above the mount, are also a part of the installation to ensure safety in case of mounting failure or screws which may become loosened over time.
Keep operations running smoothly and predictable by applying the correct force and frequency to bins, hoppers, railcars and trucks. Consult an expert vibration application engineer for best results.
3. Vibration increases safety and saves lives
Workers generally enter grain bins to clean them out or to address an issue with the grain itself. Issues usually include spoiled grain or clogged grain. Spoiled grain can take on many different forms. The grain can form solid masses or crusts on top of or around the interior walls of the bin, causing build up of material, ratholes, and bridging.
Accidents happen when workers attempt to loosen the grain themselves which can set up a dangerous situation resulting in entrapment, suffocation and death.
* Funnel collapse: when an auger pulls away grain from the centre of the bin, the centre surface can give way and entrapment can occur quickly. Grain in a bin flows downward from the top center of the bin, creating a ‘funnel’effect that draws material and objects down to the conveyor. An unloading auger at the bottom of the bin transports the grain outside. It only takes two to three seconds to become helpless in flowing grain. Flowing grain acts like quick sand and can pull a worker under and cause suffocation.
* Cavity collapse: a hard crust can form on the top of grain. Just like thin ice, it can be deceiving. As grain is pulled away underneath the crust, it can give way and the individual will fall into the cavity and be buried by the falling grain. A grain bridge can form when grain on the surface is mouldy or is frozen together. When grain is unloaded from a bin with a surface crust, a hollow cavity forms underneath the grain bridge. If an individual enters the bin and attempts to walk on the crusted surface, the additional weight will cause the crust to collapse and the individual could be partially or completely submerged instantly. The shifting grain can move the victim four to five feet from the point of entry where the victim was last seen, making it difficult to determine exactly where the victim is located.
* Wall collapse: when faced by a wall of grain which is stuck to the bin walls, it is imperative that grain should not be broken up from below. Loose grain can form an avalanche which quickly buries the worker. Grain, particularly grain in bad condition, can cake in large vertical columns against the bin wall. Workers may try to dislodge the grain by poking it with a stick or shovel. This can cause the grain wall to break free and result in an avalanche that can completely bury workers inside the bin. (Grain Bin Entrapment: What If It Happens to You? Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service CR-1726, Oklahoma State University).
The stories are all too common:
* Two employees died after being trapped in grain storage tank July, 2019, Toledo, Ohio. They and another man were inside the tank breaking up compacted grain in an effort to unplug a blocked hole. The silo was not full, but held an estimated 180,000 bushels of grain at the time of the incident. The incident is not the first time individuals died in local grain elevator or storage tank accidents.
* In a different sort of incident, at least two explosions at the grain elevator hurled sheets of metal skyward, igniting a conveyor system and sparking a two-alarm fire that burned out of control for several hours.
* A mother in Minnesota is proposing Landon’s Law, named after her son who was lost in a tragic grain bin accident in August of 2019 as were two others that month. Her request is to add safety measures and protocols to be followed in and around grain bins, starting with equipment in the bin.
Don’t think this happens just in large operations. Historically, approximately 70% of all documented entrapments, where the site was known, have occurred on farms currently exempt from OSHA Grain Handling Facilities standards with the balance taking place at commercial grain facilities (according to a US report on Grain Entrapments).
Vibration can minimize all these types of accidents
Bridges, clogs, ratholes and sticking are NOT REASONS to enter a grain bin when using vibration. Vibrators, or the use of air cannons, can break up compacted grain so employees do not have to enter the storage tank. VIBCO has explosion-proof vibrators which do not cause a spark or contribute to combustion or fires.
Injuries and deaths from grain bin entrapments are a serious and growing problem but vibration is part of the solution.
Improve workplace safety by eliminating the need to enter a grain bin to clear it. There is no need to put crew at risk when vibration (or a blast of air from an air cannon) are available as a solution.
For operators who want to (1) save money with efficiency, (2) protect their investment in equipment or, (3) keep their employees safe, vibrators are an ideal solution.
About VIBCO Vibrators
Founded in 1962, VIBCO Vibrators designs, manufacturers and markets a comprehensive range of electric, pneumatic and hydraulic vibrators for construction and industrial use including standard and custom vibrating tables. VIBCO Vibrators also designs, manufactures and markets a complete line of vibratory plate compactors and rollers.
All standard VIBCO products are available from stock same or next day and the company is committed to quality, throughput, innovation and 100% employee engagement. VIBCO Vibrators is headquartered in Wyoming, RI, USA.