Material Handling Fans
Industrial Material Handling Fan Applications
When we talk about industrial material handling, we mean the process of using air to convey or transfer materials through an industrial manufacturing system. Industrial manufacturing operations can contain small, light particles like sawdust, sand, grains, and paper all the way up to larger, more abrasive items like pet food, wood chips, plastic pellets, metal scrap, and more.
The material handling fan is the mechanism for pushing, pulling, or pneumatically conveying the air and particles through the system. That means the fan needs to be heavy-duty and abrasion-resistant to hold up under the constant wear of the materials.
Primary Industries for Material Handling Fans
The industry of operation is a primary indicator of the application environment and fan function. Almost all process industries involve some sort of material handling fan, including but not limited to:
- Food & Grain
- Plastics Recycling Operations
- Automotive OEM
- Building Materials
- Consumer Goods
- Paper & Pulp
Material Handling Fan Technology Selection & Specification
The material being processed requires careful consideration for the design and specification of the industrial material handling fan.
Choosing the most effective material handling fan technology for your application is critical. The materials that move through the pneumatic equipment are often abrasive, and sometimes combustible or explosive (for example, flour, wood dust, or paper). In many applications, the materials can also get trapped and clog the system without the right construction.
High-Pressure blowers may be used to pneumatically convey product/material through the manufacturing process, including venturi eductors. Radial/paddlewheel design fans convey material to/through dust collection systems and from collection system discharge to bins, silos, containers, etc. There are also designs that specifically address Trim Handling as a specific type of material handling.
Fan Designs Commonly Used for Material Handling Applications
- High-Pressure Blowers
- Industrial Exhauster Paddle Wheel (IEPW / IEFB)
- Industrial Exhauster Radial Shrouded (IERS)
- Industrial Exhauster Trim Handling (IETW / IETX)
Material Handling Fan Arrangements
Fan Arrangements specify how the motors mount to and drive the fans. Heavier material handling fans typically use an Arrangement 9 or Arrangement 1 belt-drive motor to provide more range and control so that if the system gets jammed, it’s less likely to burn out the motor. It also reduces downtime with easier maintenance.
Arrangement 1 – Belt Drive with an overhung impeller. The fan and motor mount separately to a unitary base.
Arrangement 9 - Belt Drive with an overhung impeller. The motor mounts to the side of the fan pedestal rather than a unitary base to save space.
In forced draft blower applications where no material is passing through the fan or in systems where the material passing through won’t have an adverse effect on the motor assembly, direct-drive arrangements may also be an option.
Accessories & Design Consideration
The main concerns for material handling fan applications are to keep the material and air moving and minimize damage from the abrasive material. Without the right blade style and design, the particles can build up, get clogged, or damage the moving machinery, risking costly downtime and creating a fire hazard. Duct system design and system volume/pressure requirements will help determine the fan/wheel type, horsepower, and materials of construction. The design is based on the specific characteristics of the material. Important questions to ask:
- Is it abrasive?
- Is it tacky/sticky?
- Is there a corrosive element to consider?
- What is the bulk density and volume of the material?
For material handling fan applications, we recommend:
- Heavy-duty construction for 24×7 operations
- Venturi Eductors transport the materials through low-pressure air with a high-pressure airstream in the pneumatic conveying system
- Sharpened edges and breaker bars for hard scrap materials
- Inlet filters/silencers for pressure blowers
- Vibration isolators to help maintain material handling fan balance
- Internal “no-snag” finish(completely smooth welds etc.) so the material doesn’t get caught up on snag spots
- No-snag nose cone to cover the wheel hub in the open radial design
- A fully open-wheel with no outer grid so nothing can hang on it
- Abrasion-Resistant AR400 Carbon Steel for heavier duty material handling applications like metal and aluminum trim
- Teflon can potentially help further reduce material buildup
- Stainless Steel and specialty finishes may be necessary on select fans that require food-grade construction
- Regular maintenance to ensure the system is clear of buildup