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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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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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Since 2016, David Hyer has served as the President and General Manager of Thayer Scale and is responsible for daily operations. In 2013, he rejoined the company after serving as the division manager of the circuit-board test and inspection business at Teradyne. His professional experience includes senior management positions in sales and business development at Teradyne and two venture capital-backed startups. His first position was with Thayer Scale in 1985 as a college student writing machine-level code for the PI-164 instrument. David has expertise in the design and manufacture of market-leading conveyor belt scales and gravimetric feeders. With an unyielding focus on product line specialization and quality, the company’s portfolio of products and customized solutions are tailored to the unique requirements of its three key segments; Food, Energy & Building Products, and Chemical & Industrial. David holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Tufts University. He is married with three children and enjoys tennis, golf, and spending time on his boat.
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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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Matthias Hofmann is Technical Director at singold gerätetechnik gmbh. The company specialises in the development and production of pneumatic knockers and other products for the bulk solids industry such as flap shutters and double-flap sluices. As a Dipl.-Ing.(FH), Markus Hofmann initially contributed his extensive knowledge in plant construction and mechanical engineering as a design engineer at various mechanical engineering companies, including in the position of chief engineer. Since 2019, he has been further developing the product range at singold gerätetechnik gmbh and supporting customers in finding the optimal solution for their plant.
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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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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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Steve Massman received his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. Steve has been with General Kinematics for over 20 years, starting as a Design Engineer, holding several other titles before reaching his current title of Technical Director. Since his start at General Kinematics Steve has been a member of the General Kinematics R&D Committee since 2011, designed over 200 pieces of equipment, and has 9 assigned and pending patents. He is instrumental in the development of GK’s grinding technologies. When Steve is out of the office he spends his time with his family in the great outdoors; kayaking, windsurfing, and snorkeling. Contact GK for more at info@generalkinematics.com
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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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