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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

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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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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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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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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George Bougioukas, Plant Manager of Acmon systems has over a 20 years of experience in plant process design for both mechanical and automation engineering in a wide range of industrial sectors. He has gained a unique knowhow of cross-cutting technologies and applications bringing the organization to reach a new industrial value chain era. George’s expertise includes applications ranging from reception and storage of raw materials, pneumatic and mechanical conveying, sieving, weighing and dosing, mixing, up to bagging and final product dispatch. Behind George there is a dedicated team of engineers who like him are constantly striving to improve design and performance of all plants Acmon systems has been delivering all around the globe for the last 30years on a turnkey basis.
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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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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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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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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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