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Solids Feeders

Solids feeders are of great importance in bulk material handling systems since feeders control the solid flow rate.

Solids feeders are of great importance in bulk material handling systems since feeders control the solid flow rate.

Solids feeders deliver powder, granular, and other bulk solid materials along a process line, or to and from process units, storage bins, conveyors, and product packaging. Additionally, feeders may serve to break down clumps or arches to allow for more uniform distribution. There are two basic types of bulk feeders: volumetric feeders and gravimetric feeders.

  • Volumetric feeders: Volumetric feeders are dosing systems that supply the production system with a certain volume of material in a set timeframe, based on the displacement principle.
  • Gravimetric feeders: Gravimetric feeders are self-calibrating dosing systems that dose based on weight in speed.

The difference between a feeder and a conveyor is that a conveyor is only capable of transporting material, not controlling the flow rate. When feeders stop working, the solids flow rate will come to an end.

There are many types of bulk feeders available today. The most broadly used include vibratory tubes, vibratory trays, vibratory belts, screw feeders, and rotary feeders (also known as rotary airlocks or rotary valves).

Below are some common types of dry material feeders and the types of applications in which they are used:

Vibratory tube feeders: Vibratory tube feeders can utilize electromagnetic or brute force (offset weight vibrators) and feed dry materials in an enclosed tube to downstream equipment.

Vibratory tray feeders: Vibratory tray feeders can utilize electromagnetic or brute force (offset weight vibrators) to feed dry materials along a pan (or tray) into downstream equipment. These are particularly good with friable, sticky, or easily smeared materials.

Both vibratory tray feeders and vibratory tube feeders are a good option for materials that are friable. Also, when properly applied, these devices will empty completely.

Vibratory belt feeders: Vibratory belt feeders can be a good option when you have limited headroom. Even with its low profile, it can be capable of high rates. Vibratory belt feeders are best suited for materials that are not dusty and are well suited for friable types of materials.

Volumetric Screw Feeders: Volumetric screw feeders allow consistent feeding of dry materials into downstream processes. These can be tuned to feed rates ranging from just a few grams or ounces per minute to well over 100 pounds per minute by utilizing different screw diameters and pitches, as well as variable frequency drives and gearbox combinations.

Loss-In-Weight Screw Feeders: By mounting a feeder (screw, tube, tray, belt, etc.) to a scale platform, you can gravimetrically (Loss-in-Weight) feed material into a downstream process. This can be done as a “batch” or continuous process.

Rotary feeders (also known as rotary airlocks or rotary valves): Rotary feeders consist of a paddle wheel-shaped rotor that rotates at low rpm to dispense material into a hopper or process unit (mixer, crusher, screener). If the blades form a tight seal against the valve wall, then the valves can be applied in airlock applications.

While more commonly used as a refill device, rotary valves can be a desirable option as a feeder.

The type of feeder to be selected for a particular application is dependent upon several factors.

First, it is essential to clearly define the application parameters.

These include the feed rate range, accuracy requirements, temperature and/or pressure considerations, possible dimensional restraints, the type of system used to get the material to the feeder, and to what downstream equipment the feeder will discharge.

Then, it is essential to define the characteristics of the material to be fed. Establishing these parameters will reduce the available feeder types that are applicable to your specific application.

Once you have established all essential parameters and decided on the device (or devices) you believe will best suit your needs, it is always a good idea to have a potential manufacturer test your bulk product.

This Technology Zone offers an insight into the latest innovations in bulk solids feeders for material processing industries.

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Experts for Solids Feeders

Aristidis Melios is the General Manager at Vraykos & Associates Mechanical Ltd. He holds a Diploma in Mechanical Engineering from National Technical University of Athens, and has more than 30 years of experience in design, engineering and manufacturing of bulk materials handling systems in food industry in Greece and Balkans area. Mr Melios is an expert in managing industrial projects that concern mechanical or pneumatic conveying, weighing & dosing, mixing, dedusting, screening and storaging of food bulk products. He has the experience needed to create a cost efficient turn-key solution for every bulk materials industry. The last years leads the Vraykos company engineering team with success, inserting new ideas and technologies in the field of bulk materials handling systems.
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As Bunting’s Technical Sales Engineer, Tom Higginbottom helps companies solve metal separation and detection problems. Since joining Bunting in March 2017, Tom has developed a reputation as a magnetic separation and metal detection equipment specialist, regularly visiting sites across Europe to advise on ways to improve metal separation and recovery. He is also a committee member of the British Metal Recyclers Association’s Young British Metals Recyclers (YBMR).
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Matthew Bailey – Technical Lead

Matthew is a mechanical engineer holding an honours degree from the Auckland University of Technology and has been responsible for BFM® Global’s product development, testing and compliance programme for almost 5 years. Matt’s experience is centered on the powder handling industry with a specific focus on flexible connectors, and all the compliance requirements around them. From food to pharmaceutical and all industries in between, Matt works with our Distributor partners, end users and OEMs from Europe, Asia and the Americas to solve application challenges. He regularly attends industry tradeshows around the world and understands the complex requirements of each different market.
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Rob van Zetten is Senior Account Manager Benelux, Scandinavia, and the Baltic states at DMN-WESTINGHOUSE. With over 30 years of work experience in bulk solids, he knows all the ins and outs of the industry: from complete processes to working with components. His broad market and industry knowledge is second to none. Due to his experience with numerous system integrators in various technical and commercial roles, he is perfectly capable of calculating a clear ROI and TCO. In his current position at DMN-WESTINGHOUSE this experience comes in very handy. He advises which rotary valve or diverter valve to place in which situation and takes both the sustainable and the financial side of the solution into account. His knowledge of the process ‘up- and downstream’ is of great added value. Rob is a specialist in the field of Aquaculture and also has demonstrable knowledge in the field of Food, Pharma, Petfood, Chemicals, Plastics, non-woven materials, and minerals.
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James is a veteran of solids flow measuring process design with over 27 years of experience under his belt. He is a recognized expert in flow-metering and feeding applications in a wide variety of sectors across a multitude of industries, including the food, chemical and building supply industries.
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Carrie Hartford is the Technical Sales Manager and Senior Project Engineer in Jenike & Johanson’s office in California. For 15 years, she has been solving challenging bulk material flow related problems around the world. Typical projects include the analysis and design of bins, hoppers, feeders, and transfer chutes. From 2012 – 2014, she opened and established an engineering office and laboratory facilities in Perth, Western Australia. Internationally she publishes and presents technical papers, participates in conferences, and presents numerous short courses in the field of bulk solids flow. Carrie has a Mechanical Engineering degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara and an MBA from Azusa Pacific University in California. She is a licensed Professional Mechanical Engineer in the State of California.
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Süleyman is General Manager of Polimak with more than 20 years of experience in design, engineering, manufacturing, and marketing of bulk solids handling systems. He leads the organization to provide problem-free solutions from single equipment to complete turnkey systems for a wide range of industries. Pneumatic conveying systems, dust collectors, rotary valves, big bag dischargers, batching & dosing systems, storage silos are some of the components designed and produced by a highly qualified engineering team in the organization. Holding a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering, Süleyman’s background includes software development, industrial automation, and IoT technologies. This facilitates Polimak’s vision of providing data-driven smart process technologies for the bulk solids handling industry in the new digital age.
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Todd Messmer is the Product Manager for the Schenck Process Weighing and Feeding Product Line in North America. He has 21 years of Applications Engineering experience customizing and designing Screw Feeders, Weighbelts, Vibratory Feeders, Flow Meters, and Bulk Bag Unloaders into customers’ processes. Todd has worked with a diverse range of companies in the Food, Plastics, Chemicals and Pharmaceutical industries and has written several articles for key industry publications. He holds degrees in both Electronics and Marketing and currently manages a team of Applications Engineers for Schenck Process. Expert in Screw Feeders, Weighbelts, Vibratory Feeders, Flow Meters, and Bulk Bag Unloaders.
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Gareth Meese works as Regional Sales Director – EMEA (Europe, the Middle East, India, and Northern Africa) for Eriez-Europe, a global leader in several key technology areas, including magnetic separation, metal detection, and material handling equipment. With nearly 20 years of experience in continuously-evolving positions, Gareth is well versed in bulk material handling applications. When Gareth joined Eriez as an Export Sales Engineer, he led several Eriez teams tasked with expanding business throughout Scandinavia, the Baltic States, and the Czech Republic. Later, as Export Sales Manager, he concentrated on growing Eriez-Europe in Russia, Europe and Northern Africa. His recent promotion expands his geographic responsibilities further with the addition of the Middle East and India. Gareth has been instrumental in pursuing Eriez’ vision and holds a Bachelor of Science in Physics from Cardiff University. Gareth is more than prepared to discuss and recommend a tailored solution for any unique bulk material handling application.
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Sharon Nowak serves as Global Business Development Manager for the Food and Pharmaceutical Industries for Coperion and Coperion K-Tron. Nowak works closely with the Research & Development and Engineering departments as well as worldwide customer requests to identify new applications and provide design and focus on the very specific needs of these industries. Nowak has a 30+ year background in the process equipment industry for food and pharmaceuticals as well as a degree in Chemical/Biochemical Engineering from Rutgers University in New Jersey, USA. She has extensive experience designing and integrating feeders and material handling equipment including pneumatic conveying into continuous and batch processes for food and pharmaceuticals including blenders/mixers, mills/micronizers, extruders, granulators and coaters, and contained processes for potent pharmaceutical compounds.
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