Bulk Equipment, Equipment & Technology, Vibrators

ESS Engineering is blasting to success

Material blockages can cost companies up to millions of dollars. ABHR explores how, with the help of ESS Engineering’s range of flow aids, companies can save serious money.

In his line of work, Tom Stahura accounts development manager for ESS, is often asked why companies should take on a flow-aid device for their bulk handling operations.

His simple and effective answer takes five words and can potentially save companies millions in lost revenue.

As he says, “without flow, you have nothing. Without flow, the product is sitting idly in a silo or storage facility, reducing plant efficiency and limiting live capacity.”

Stahura has four decades of experience in the industry and nearly as long with air cannons, first in the United States and then in Australia

He knows just how valuable and versatile ESS Engineering’s flow-aids can be in the bulk material handling industry.

“I think wherever bulk materials are being handled, there is a need for a flow-aid to help them with their product.” Says Stahura, “I’ve had clients use air cannons on everything from cereal manufacturing to bricks and cement works to heavy-duty bulk handling like iron ore.”

Equally, this experience also recognises how crucial proper application, placement and alignment are in utilising flow-aids.

“When flow-aids aren’t applied correctly, they can damage a structure and create a problem,” he said.

This is why operators must rely on trusted industry advice from a specialist team with decades of experience dealing with these products.

Air cannons can quickly solve bulk flow problems in silos, hoppers, and chutes. Image: ESS Engineering

The ESS difference

ESS Engineering develops flow-aid solutions for a site’s application through close collaboration with its clients. By investing time to comprehend client needs and goals, whether it’s sustaining material flow or utilising maximum bin, hopper, or chute capacity, ESS Engineering’s flow-aid team devises optimised solutions tailored to address these specific requirements.

One recent example saw ESS Engineering’s team helping an Australian mining company help alleviate a blockage issue on its iron ore sizer.

The ore was building up to the point where the sizers continually turned through the same material, which was not flowing onto the next stage of the plant.

The company estimated the lost productivity from the sizer was costing them close to $3 million a year for no benefit.

The flow-aid solution utilising an air cannon from ESS Engineering is estimated to have returned them close to $2 million as the material flowed freely through the sizer and into processing.

“After we created a flow-aid solution for the sizer, the client was really pleased with the results. They estimate we saved them around $2 million in less than a year,” Stahura said.

“For the expenditure they invested in the flow-aid solution and the air cannon, they saw that returned several times over.”

Versatile range

ESS is known for its comprehensive range of flow-aid devices, from air cannons to industrial vibrators, to silo cleaners, all of which can be adapted across many bulk-handling applications. ESS Air Cannons are pneumatic bulk material flow aid systems that utilise the release of a volume of compressed air. This sudden release of energy is directed through a transition pipe into compacted material in a bulk storage structure to fracture blockages, restoring flow and regaining storage capacity.

In the bulk materials and handling sector, air cannons have numerous applications.

They can quickly solve bulk flow problems in silos, hoppers, chutes and storage piles and are often used where vibration is not practical or other methods are too expensive.

The recent upgrades to ESS’ air cannon design have enhanced operator safety and efficiency, especially with ESS being able to retrofit air cannons onto previously installed valve arrangements

The newly designed ESS Air Cannons are available in both internal and external valve arrangements with 4” (i4) and 6” (i6) valves.

The direct blast design of the i4 and i6 valves allows stored air in 40L, 70L, 150L or 250L receivers to escape directly through the valve and into a discharge pipe without bends or obstructions.

This is important, as the quicker the air discharges, the more significant the blast’s force, velocity, and impulse are and, therefore, have a more substantial impact on the problem area.

ESS’s new air cannon design range also allows operators to fill the air cannon on demand. The feature reduces the hazard risk and statutory inspection requirements of the device and enhances operator safety.

Other upgrades have also had a profound impact on the Air Cannon’s safety and longevity. The ESS team removed wearing components like springs and reduced metal-on-metal contact within the device to improve its reliability and lifetime.

The ESS Air Cannon delivers the best results when angled correctly at the problem area, especially the base area of the build-up, which is why ESS tailors its service to the customers’ requirements.

Operators can use the sequence controller to remotely activate the air cannon and control the firing intervals of individual or multiple cannons.

This design feature further enhances operator safety and air cannon productivity.

It is clear, as Stahura said, that if a company needs its bulk material to flow, the ESS Air Cannon is the safe and effective way to go.

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