Triboelectric Particle Velocity Monitoring System To Automatically Adjust Pneumatic Conveying

Posted by Justin Dechene on Apr 18, 2016 10:00:00 AM

Insight into systems & subsystems

For many process applications, things are anything but static on the production line. While some processes may involve little more then setting the various pieces of equipment, pushing a green button and then waiting for the shift to finish, many others involve much more dynamic input to function properly. 

Too often, though, all the attention to set-up, tune-up, PM and optimization of key production steps is compromised by inefficiency in ancillary operations. Pneumatic conveying, for instance, is an area where maintenance and production folks often waste a lot of time - and where particle velocity monitoring could reduce headaches.

The challenges are numerous.

  • First, how to know if material is flowingConveying_pipes.jpg
  • Second, how to accurately observe the flow rate of the material itself (not the air that's carrying the product)
  • Third, to measure the flow rate using instruments that don't themselves interfere with the flow, or require frequent maintenance
  • Fourth, to measure precise quantities of product by mass or volume without introducing additional equipment to purchase and maintain
  • Fifth, to integrate feedback from the instrumentation to automatically adjust fan speed to optimize product flow

Triboelectric particle velocity monitoring technology which is often thought of as emissions control technology, has helped many facilities across all industries to improve the processes applications as Flow/No Flow, More Flow/Less Flow devices, and particle velocity monitoring  - all in addition to traditional particulate emissions monitoring.

Many process engineers aren't familiar with the range of capabilities, however, such as integrated instrumentation feedback and system fan control in pneumatic conveying systems. 

Integrated Fan Control Capabilities 3600-3200-3400.jpg

Companies are accustomed to monitoring and adjusting fan speed which is presumed to correlate directly to speed of air flow - which is assumed (often incorrectly) to in turn correlate to product velocity.

The presumption and assumption are often faulty. And therefore product is conveyed too quickly (causing damage and wear) or too slowly (impinging on operations and leading to 'drop out'.) 

By connecting the triboelectric particle velocity monitoring system with the plant’s PLC and other process controls Auburn’s devices can actually make adjustments to fan controls automatically. This means that as conditions change within the process the system fan output can increase or decrease to compensate. 

Example 1 - Baked products

During the manufacturing process of a breakfast product, the particles need to be conveyed at a carefully controlled speed to avoid damaging the fragile finished food product. A triboelectric particle velocity monitoring system from Auburn monitors the velocity of the particles (more accurate than just air speed). As conditions within the conveying system change that affect the actual speed of the material (such as the dust collection system filters becoming blocked or cleaned) the TRIBO system automatically adjusts the fan output. This keeps the velocity consistent despite various upset conditions. The purpose is to convey the product at a low enough velocity to prevent damage but without going so slow as to cause blockages and other conveying difficulties from product dropout. 

Example 2 - Marshmallow Product and fouling

Another food manufacture must deal with buildup of product within the conveying system during its production of a marshmallow type product. As time goes on, the marshmallow compound slowly builds up with the partial buildup causing the velocity to drop off further, which further speeds up the build up process. In order to extend the time between shutdowns a particle velocity sensor monitors the velocity within the system and automatically increases fan output to compensate for the product build up. This keeps production consistent over time until the point where the system must be shut down for cleaning. 


Automating the process of fan output adjustment makes these two processes not only possible but also practical for production purposes. By automatically connecting the particle velocity monitoring system with the fan controls Auburn System technology improves production output, reduces downtime and reduces operating costs for process industries. 

Would you like to learn more about how Auburn Systems’ particle velocity monitoring devices can improve your process? If so, please contact us for more information! 


Topics: Process Control