How Is Poor Bulk Material Flow Costing You?

The scope of this report is to determine the approximate costs associated with poor bulk material flow and the approximate savings achieved with a TIVAR 88 Lining System. Several intended factors are to be considered and are as follows:

  1. Labour required to keep bulk material moving

  2. Halted/reduced production due to jammed equipment

  3. Degradation and damage to infrastructure and equipment

  4. Contamination issues resulting in rejected product

  5. Housekeeping issues with material spillage

  6. Safety Hazards

Data Collection:

Plastruct has gathered data based on anecdotal reporting from client plant managers and production staff. For the purpose of providing unbiased results, Plastruct has used the most conservative numbers available from the participants. Many facilities have much higher cost prior to installation of a lining system.

It is important to note that in all facilities reviewed for this data, more than 1 of the factors were seen. In many plants all of the above factors were present.


1 - Labour


The chart below illustrates general day to day labour that is required to keep material flowing. All of these examples are from indoor or covered facilities. The labour considered includes: Rodding, Hammering The Bin, Cleaning Out The Hopper, Washouts, Cleaning Spilled Material Due To Blockages.



2 - Lost Production


How is lost production realized?


Lost Production was an elusive beast to collect accurate data on, as there were a large number of factors related to production output and totals of production. It was difficult to ascertain how much could be directly attributed to material flow issues. To obtain data we needed to ask not only about lost production of product, as this can be made up with over-time hours, we also explored time lost due to material flow.


In our analysis we mainly focused on how often a bulk material flow issue occurred to the extent that production had to miss batches. This also included complete stoppages for very-short time frames. The other factor which was easier to collect data on was the shutdown time to unplug a system before restarting production.


3 - Degradation + Damage


Bulk materials are not easy on equipment. Clients themselves know best what raw materials can do to their equipment. Equipment manufacturers know this and either ignore it to keep prices low, or are unaware of the available options. Most of the equipment engineering process is done at a desk where the simulations are done under ideal conditions. Unfortunately, most facilities don't have ideal conditions. Most facilities deal with some of the following issues:

  • Moist or wet bulk material

  • Frozen bulk material

  • Rusted steel

  • Low headroom necessitating need for lower slopes on bins or chutes

  • Budget constraints


How can lining your equipment help?

  • The low co-efficient of friction (COF) of a TIVAR 88 lining system facilitates extreme improvement in flowability. The low COF allows for lower hopper slopes to be utilized effectively.

  • A lining system is the first defense against wear. It takes all the abrasion while at the same time increasing the rate flow. This means steel components do not come into contact with the bulk material and remain as new. A good analogy would be working with concrete blocks without gloves. After a day or two your hands would start getting worn. Now put gloves on. After some time, you throw out your gloves and your hands are still in good shape.

  • The polymer lining system absorbs the impact. Having a sacrificial liner in place softens the impact and increases equipment service life.

  • By utilizing a lining system, the vibrator can be reduced to minimal use or in some cases shut down completely. Vibrations are a structural killer and does more damage to structures and components than most people realize. The same can be said for air cannons.

  • Acidic or corrosive bulk material will eat/rust/corrode your structure and components. A polymer lining system is impervious to these and not only protects your equipment, the liner will not deteriorate over time with exposure to these types of materials.


4 - Contamination


Contamination occurs when the finished product has an altered composition. In some production plants, contamination was accepted with-in a set tolerance level. A few of the facilities have no system in place for actually checking the composition of the final product other than destructive testing, or even just visual in-line inspection.


Our results showed that in almost all un-lined structures there was some level of contamination taking place. In cases of extreme contamination this was rectified with post product run cleanouts, either by manually scraping out bins or chutes, or by pressure washing the system. The labour time in these instances have been recorded in the Labour ROI chart.


5 - Housekeeping


Housekeeping was not on our original scope for this report. It was added later after reviewing our notes. Clearly keeping the plant tidy and free of obstruction has never been more important. In the industries we serve, this is not an easy task as most clients handle dirty, dusty, and heavy materials. It was noted that part of the benefit of installing a lining system was increased cleanliness in the area. There may be a few reasons for this:

  • Better flow means less overflow issues. This was noticed mostly at conveyor transfer points.

  • If there is no need to manually induce bulk material flow, then there will be less tools laying around; for example; steel rods, shovels, hammers, etc.

  • Less time required to clean up spillage increased the time spent keeping other areas tidy.

6 - Safety


Clearly this is an issue that plays a major role across all sectors. It is listed last in this report for two reasons:

  1. We are not qualified to provide health & safety recommendations in production facilities.

  2. It was not mentioned as a concern by most production managers or operators.

Our role as a member of our clients supply chain, is to promote bulk material flow, however during the process of compiling data for this report, we pin-pointed some areas of concern in facilities with un-lined infrastructure. The fact that employee safety was not considered when discussing bulk material flow, shows there are great opportunities for gain in this department alone.


Please refer to the list below highlighting the most common safety concerns noted:

  • Personnel entering hoppers or reaching into hoppers to assist the flow of bulk materials. ( Unfortunately, this has on multiple occasions, led to workplace fatalities.)

  • Personnel strain and injury due to hammering outer walls of discharge points or poking into the top of bins.

  • Dust from overflow related to flow issues. This creates respiratory and visibility concerns.

  • Noise levels. While facilities are noisy places, we noted that some chutes and hoppers were at very high decibel levels.

Installation of lining systems have mitigated these risks to a large degree.



Conclusion


Almost all managers reported that the peace of mind created from installation of a lining system was an important aspect. Knowing that whatever was lined would be less of a concern, allowed them to focus on production rather than manage bulk material flow problems.


Return on investment (ROI) for a TIVAR88 Liner System varies in different industries. Here are a few real-life examples:


  • Foundry: ROI - 3 months

Lining system capital cost: +\- $900,000. Previously recorded lost production was $50,000 per furnace charge. Per annum there were an average of 60 lost charges due to hoppers not flowing properly to fill the furnace. This relates into $3M lost production per year. In the past 20 years this rate of loss was more or less the same with some years better or worse depending on the severity of the winter. The 20 year total was close to an astounding $60M. After a TIVAR 88 liner systems was installed, lost furnace charges due to material flow dropped to zero.


  • Concrete Brick Plant: ROI - 12 months

Lining system capital cost: +/- $120,000. Previously recorded lost production was not available, however staff noted that constant labour was needed to monitor and promote flow. The plant needed to spend capital budget to repair or replace the hopper as it was aging and had severe corrosion. They obtained quotes to replace the hopper structure which came in at +/- $225,000 plus lining system. With a TIVAR 88 Liner system installed, replacement was unnecessary and extended the hopper life by an additional 20 years. The improved Material Flow Rate reduced labour by 25% for this area.


  • Coal Handling Mix Plant: ROI - 6 months

Lining system capital cost: +/- $98,000 per quadrant. 4 quadrants lined at schedule of one per year. ROI is calculated per quadrant.

An aging hopper was in rough shape due to vibration cracks. (Heavy Duty Vibrator Running 24/7.) Flow was terrible during wet and freezing months. Cost to replace the entire structure was estimated at $80M. Due to budget constraints, alternate solutions were sought. After installation of a TIVAR 88 Liner System, lost production due to flow dropped to zero. Also maintenance costs were reduced as outside contactors were no longer needed to clean out the bin as it now empties on its own. The Mix Bin capital cost project of $80M was pushed back 10 years and later revised to 20 years due to the performance of the TIVAR 88 Lining System.


  • Aggregate Quarry Rock Chute: ROI - 1 Season

Lining system capital cost: $24,000. Previously no lost production. Annual replacement of AR plate was the reason an alternate solution was sought. An AR plate is heavy and require cranes and millwright labour to remove and re-install. A new Polyurethane impact chute liner was installed. The service life compared to the AR steel was 3X longer. An unexpected benefit for the client was noise reduction. The noise reduction was so great the client is reviewing other chutes for liners just to reduce operating noise.