European machinery and the industrial field as a whole have taken a hit but can ultimately come back strong. But one of the parts you may be missing is a feed hopper.
As one of the most useful and versatile machinery, they can combine alongside the rest of your manufacturing process to make production safer and more efficient. Keep reading to find out more about feed hoppers and how they can boost productivity.
What’s a Feed Hopper?
Feed hoppers are machines with holding trays designed to pour or ‘feed’ large amounts of materials into a separate container. These can include feed hopper bins or metal balers. They’re most often used to transport large amounts of loose materials and have a purpose in many industrial settings.
How Do They Work?
An automatic hopper feeder works by either natural gravity or a vibrating force shaking the tray of the feeder. This is, so the materials disperse at a manageable rate.
Some of the attributes that determine the usage of a hopper feeder are its volume and weight capacities, as well as depth, width, and height.
Since they’re designed to be a part of the production process, there are many types of machinery that they work in tandem with.
One of these is a scrap metal baler, used to compress metal for easier handling and storage. In production, these work together by placing the feeder directly above it or beside it on a conveyor.
These can be placed so you can either feed the metal baler from the hopper or do the opposite and insert metal into the baler to be fed into the hopper.
Types of Hopper Feeders
Most automatic hopper feeders are conveyors. This means that they operate via a motor that powers the conveyor rather than gravity.
These are widely customizable and simplify the production process. Because they serve a variety of industries, there are a few main types of feed hoppers designated by their movement and size.
Stationary hopper feeders are placed in a factory or otherwise stable position for long-term usage. They can take a number of different forms, such as gravity or overhead feeders or more traditional feeders with more mechanical parts.
Gravity and overhead hoppers are best used where vibration isn’t necessary or would damage the materials. Overhead hoppers work for healthcare purposes to sort medications. Or as part of a construction or demolition project removing dirt or sand.
These types of hoppers work best with materials that can be easily funnelled. As certain products can bind to one another or damage each other in the process. This includes loose materials in general, especially granular or smaller objects and liquids.
Portable hopper feeders are especially useful for larger or heavier materials and loads. Although they can come in various sizes, they can be especially useful for construction and concrete recycling.
Some models have very short set-up/installation times and are easy to transport as they’re often outfitted with tires. Others have variable speeds, which makes them customizable to the job at hand.
These are a combined version of stationary and portable hopper feeders as semi-mobile options. They’re best for situations where there needs to be an easy installation and movement of materials and to be removed after the fact though they may need to be in their position for an extended period.
Although there are basic standard models, being able to customize your hopper feeder is one of the standout qualities of this machinery. This means you can take advantage of a certain type of feed hopper while customizing it to your factory or industry’s needs.
One of the biggest benefits of automatic feed hoppers specifically is that they cut down on the use of manual processes and increase efficiency in this regard. Rather than having workers manually feed a scrap metal baler or another machine, the parts and materials feed directly into it.
This also means that the workers’ job becomes safer as there isn’t a manual feeding process.
Some of the other advantages of feed hoppers are that they’re easily integrated into your production chain as a whole. So there’s less time spent installing or shifting machinery around to accommodate for it.
They’re also built to be durable and long-lasting, with minimal moving parts and individual pieces to clean, so maintenance isn’t a hassle.
Although hopper feeders have several advantages, there’s no such thing as perfect machinery. A potential risk of these machines is that they may lead to workplace accidents if workers or management don’t follow safety codes and practice due diligence.
This is especially imperative for industries working with heavy or otherwise dangerous materials such as rocks or concrete. Mitigating this risk can include several options, such as monitoring the size of the materials and installing guards and other protective and preventative measures as needed.
Industries They’re Used In
As stated, hopper feeders can be used in several industries. However, three of the largest industries that use them are the mining, recycling, and agriculture industries.
One of the most useful applications for a conveyor hopper feeder is within the mining industry. Materials and ores can be extracted and placed directly into the feeder and led into a crush or other machine to break them down further before their transport to another location.
Though this does come with some considerations on the danger, as rocks and other materials may be too large to fit into the hopper feeder or crusher, respectively. At best, this may cause a simple backup, and at worst creates a potentially disastrous scenario if the machines were to break.
Recycling often involves a tedious process of separating and compressing or crushing materials to be shipped off or distributed for repurposing. But this is not only extremely time-consuming but dangerous to do by hand.
Instead, using a hopper feeder into a baler or other system to sort of compress materials can reduce the time spent processing materials and lower the chance of risk for workers.
A wide variety of hopper feeders can work in an agricultural setting. From smaller ones dedicated to feeding animals to larger feed hopper bins storing large amounts of food long-term.
For larger commercial farms, this is especially useful. With the number of animals that need to be fed, it’s much more efficient to feed them with an automated process rather than manually.
Considerations Before Buying
There are two main considerations you’ll need to factor in when purchasing a hopper feeder. These are the application and usage of the machine and the type of maintenance it will require. Having an understanding of these details will help you make an informed decision on which type is right for your purposes.
It can’t be overstated how important the specific usage and application of a feed hopper are to its design. As previously mentioned, some are best used for more delicate items, others for those with extreme temperatures, among other factors.
Other factors on the materials you work with that you’ll need to consider are if they need batching, such as if you’re dealing with large but specific amounts of materials. Or if the materials need blending, such as with liquid or liquid-like materials that will need to be fed on a flow rate rather than a specific amount.
This also goes into form and design. Consider whether your business would benefit from a stationary, portable, modular, or custom design to meet your specific needs.
When dedicating a budget to spend on industrial machinery, a consideration of the manpower and time it takes to maintain it should be a top priority.
Since they have few moving parts, this is a simpler process than for some other machinery, but pay attention to how much lubrication it will need and any specific guards or extra modifications that you’ll need to check regularly.
Invest in an Industrial Hopper Feeder
For industrial usage, a feed hopper is incredibly useful. But because they can be so intrinsic to your company’s workflow, trust only the best will stand up to the test of the manufacturing process. That’s why you should trust Anis for your industrial feeder hopper needs.
Founded in 1996, we’ve been delivering high-quality industrial machinery for over two decades. We’ll work with you to customise a conveyor, baler, or hopper feeder to your specifications to boost the efficiency of your manufacturing process.
Get a quote with us today to start investing in your company’s future.