Why Particle Velocity Monitoring Should be Part of Process Control

Posted by Justin Dechene on Mar 8, 2016 10:00:00 AM

One of the topics that generates lots of questions for us in meetings is particle velocity monitoring. Sometimes the reaction is "cool capability, but how's it applicable in our situation?" And if budgets are tight, people assume it will be too expensive and prefer to skip to the next topic. But often the reaction centers around pneumatic conveying where they express a real difficulty understanding what is going on in the pipeline. This is often the case for engineers in industry, and makes troubleshooting an industrial system quite difficult.

Particle velocity monitoring is crucial for proper operation of many process applications and plays a key role in preventing serious problems with dust collection systems that are widely used in nearly every industry. 

For this reason, we thought it would be a good idea to briefly review some compelling reasons why you should seriously consider particle velocity monitoring in your process. 

Flow/No Flow, More Flow/Less Flow and Velocity Monitoring ApplicationsCoal_Injector.jpg

In many applications involving the movement of dry bulk goods careful monitoring is needed to ensure product is flowing and that no blockages have developed that could cause problems. However, it is not always enough to know simply that product is flowing or not flowing (commonly referred to as Flow/No Flow monitoring) or even that the flow is increasing or decreasing (commonly referred to as More Flow/Less Flow monitoring).  In many applications, a careful monitoring of the velocity of the particles (not just air) within the system is required to maintain operational parameters essential for the process. 

A conveyor moving fragile product may wish to monitor particle velocity within the duct work to ensure the product is not being unnecessarily damaged due to high velocity. In other processes, velocity is measured to ensure proper operation of the process, velocity may drop due to lack of product input or change in operating temperature or a host of other reasons. By carefully monitoring the process velocity operators can stay alert to changes in real time and make the required adjustments. 

Through conversation we often stumble into challenging and unique process problems that companies have long assumed they simply must endure. Below are just two examples: 

Application: Baked product 
  • Challenge: Preventing damage to finished product from excessive conveying speed within the duct work without causing product dropout
  • Solution: Using a triboelectric system with a non intrusive sensor placed flush along the duct wall to relay particle velocity in real time to operators allowing them to carefully adjust fan speed to maintain correct product velocity. As filters become clogged and differential pressure increases the fan is sped up to compensate and when filters are cleaned and differential pressure drops the fan speed is reduced. This prevents product damage as well as blockages and other conveying issues. 
Application: Food Manufacturing
  • Challenge: Extending time between shutdown and cleaning of the conveying system
  • Solution: Operators carefully monitor the product velocity within the system and increase fan output when they see a drop in velocity. By doing so they have increased time between shutdowns and cleanings, reducing downtime and saving considerable maintenance hours. 

Bonus - Improve Dust Collector Operation

Maintaining a certain particle velocity is also crucial in the functioning of any dust collection system such as a baghouse. If the product drops below a certain speed, called its minimum conveying velocity, the dust will begin to settle out of the air and form accumulations of dust within the duct work. These block off the system and can cause the entire system to lose suction and eventually cease to function at all. Additionally, these large accumulations pose a grave health and safety risk, especially when dealing with combustible dusts such as flour, metals, wood, and many other products. Installing a TRIBO velocity monitor can let operators and maintenance staff instantly take corrective action if a problem causes the velocity to drop within the system. Doing so quickly will prevent any accumulations from forming thus avoiding a potentially costly and hazardous situation. 


Particle velocity monitoring is not just some unnecessary new gadget for a plant to waste money on. Rather, it is a vital piece of data to monitor for countless process applications.

In fact as we work through to root causes of common downtime scenarios with engineering and maintenance teams we often find that particulate flow and particle velocity would provide critical early warning of problems which often go unnoticed until production has already been interrupted.

Carefully monitoring particle velocity can be used to measure and regulate flow rates in numerous processes. And as we have seen it also can solve a number of unique process engineering challenges where no other solutions present themselves. 

Do you think your process could benefit from particle velocity monitoring? Would you like to learn more about other applications where Auburn has successfully used this technology to overcome challenges? If so, please contact us for a free consultation or search our blog for more information regarding our TRIBO line of products and their use in process applications. 


New Call-to-action

Topics: Particulate Monitoring, Process Control, Flow Control