RESOURCE Mining Services, a specialist in wear-resistant rubber products for materials handling applications, has developed an automatic bag inflation system to solve 'hang-up' problems in bulk filling.
The new system is being hailed by customers as a breakthrough for any industry where bulk filling is used, such as mining, food, cement - or anywhere product flow needs to be maintained.
"In bulk storage, fine particles tend to bind together and block exit channels," said managing director Steve Duffy.
"For years people in a range of industries have put up with 'hang-ups' and have used relatively primitive methods to solve the problem.
"Positioning an air bag in the problem area and inflating it to loosen the lodged material when clumping occurs is an effective way of breaking up the material that has been used for some time,” he said.
“However, until recently, inflation has been manually controlled and has been time consuming and inefficient."
To overcome the problem, the company developed an automated inflation and deflation system for the airbags.
The system can be set to operate at any interval in a 24-hour period and, as well as giving more accurate control of air going in and out of the bag, also saves time and increases productivity as it doesn't require an operator to stand by to control it.
When designing the system, Resource Mining consulted technicians from SMC Pneumatics to advise on the best automation methods and components available.
The system subsequently developed is, according to Resource Mining, not only making bulk handling more efficient but also includes many safety features intended to make it the most failsafe system available.
"One feature of the system is that over-inflation of the bag is impossible. The control system SMC suggested is the first and primary measure to ensure that the bag can't over-pressurise,” said Duffy.
“When pressure inside the bag reaches a certain level, inflation is automatically ceased. But as a secondary measure, SMC installed an exhaust valve on top of the bag so if pressure does ever exceed a designated level, air will automatically be expelled."
Mr Duffy said that although his company has been making the inflatable bags for some time, the new inflation system has only recently been incorporated and is receiving an excellent response from customers.