Mike Dulin, plant manager, explains, “We had been operating with air pads in our 144-ton silos that store white cement powder and calcium carbonate used to make our thin-set adhesive and grout for tile floors.” The result was leaking of the fine powders around the air pad installations and poor aeration for the constant flow needed for the blending and packaging process. Plus constant cleaning and replacement of the screen media in the air pads consumed up to 7 hours per week of production time. An internet search turned up Solimar Pneumatics, a Minnesota based company, that is a leading designer and supplier of aeration systems and engineered components for the dry bulk material handling industry.
Solimar is the originator of the disk-type pneumatic fluidizer. The company has more than 35 years of experience with all types of material and has hundreds of repeat customers worldwide. The answer for Dulin’s operation, according to Solimar’s Jeff Lucke, was the installation of an array of four-inch diameter silicone disks at the bottom of each silo. Each disk provides uniform flow and discharge of dry bulk materials through aeration and hopper wall vibration. They prevent bridging, ratholing, and compacting in storage silos, dust collectors, and weigh bins. Compressed air provides directional airflow along the silo wall and gentle vibration keeps the product flowing with no plugging. The patented disks seal tightly and the durable design will not tear.
Because cutting holes in silos walls are expensive and time-consuming, Solimar’s EZ-IN Kits were a natural choice for retrofitting Forpac’s 8 silos. The system fits using the existing air pad openings and features a gasket permanently fixed to the mounting plate. Zinc plated carbon or stainless steel models are available in three styles to fit most existing hole patterns. “It took about 2 hours per silo to replace the old air pads with the Solimar fluidizers,” according to Dulin.
The results were impressive. The company was able to justify the cost for the purchase and installation of the aerators in just one week from savings in cleaning time and production gains for each silo. Determining the number and spacing of the aerators to assure proper flow was done by Solimar at no charge.
After one and a half years of experience with the new aeration system, Dulin says, “It’s like the difference between an antique method and a thoroughly modern method of aeration.”