Most businesses rely on the processing and handling of bulk materials. That’s because bulk materials are ubiquitous in our modern society. The pharmaceutical industry uses powder and tablets for medications. The agricultural industry involves grain or soil and the construction industry uses gravel and cement. And so many other industries utilize bulk materials. If you are considering getting involved in any aspect of the bulk materials business, such as handling, production, storage, or transportation of these goods, then below you’ll find the basic things you should know as you start out.
Bulk materials are a profitable industry.
Being part of the bulk industry means you could be generating millions! Depending on how efficient your processes and equipment are, you could potentially earn or save hundreds of thousands of dollars each day. However, if your equipment isn’t functioning properly, you could end up losing millions of dollars. That’s why it is imperative to make sure your production is seamless and your equipment is high-performing and designed well.
Bulk materials vary in size and texture.
Bulk goods range in type, shape, size, and texture. They have various characteristics in their form, consistency, flowability, temperature, and density. Some materials are hard like rocks, gravel, and tablets. And some are soft, dry, porous, and can often act more like a liquid than a solid, such as sand or powder. If either of these materials is subjected to moisture, their consistency changes and can become stiff, making it more difficult to transport and mix.
Material forms can also come in pellets, crystals, lumps, or flakes. And some materials may be sensitive to heat, corrosive, flammable, dusty, hazardous, toxic, and fragile. The characteristics of these materials determine how you can fill, convey, mix, or discharge them and the type of equipment and handling systems used for the materials.
Bulk materials affect manufacturing processes and equipment.
Bulk items impact how equipment functions and how efficient manufacturing processes are. This is because the material puts pressure and weight on the systems and equipment used to handle it. That’s why it is so critical to ensure the mixing, handling, or transporting processes work with the given material in order to have smooth operations. If the machinery isn’t durable enough for the material, the whole operation could collapse or shut down.
Different handling systems work for different materials.
Not every machine is designed for every material. Understanding each material’s different characteristics and properties will help you find a suitable machine for the processing, handling, transporting, and storage of the goods. You will want to assess the material’s moisture content, density, weight, size, color, and other attributes to make sure the plant or production equipment you are using works for it. Examples of equipment used in the handling and movement of bulk materials include bucket elevator, belt conveyor, chute, feeder, magnetic separator, hopper, and elevator conveyor. Conveyor systems are the main piece of machinery used for unloading materials into their storage facilities. Conveyors range in type, from wedge conveyor to incline conveyor, but the most common in handling bulk items is the belt conveyor.
Bulk materials are cost-effective.
Bulk is extremely popular because buying in bulk saves heaps of money! Major warehouse stores like Costco and WinCo Foods are examples of how consumers rush to purchase in bulk because of the money they save. That’s why so many materials are bought and sold in bulk—because of the savings. As mentioned previously, thousands of industries rely on bulk goods in their processing and manufacturing, such as mining, chemical, food, beverage, metal, recycling, textile, cosmetics, paint, and paper. It saves money to buy in bulk, not just for the consumer but for big business as well.