Spotlight: A Low-Cost Solution to Combat Off-Center Loading

Material handling is arguably one of the biggest challenges in wood pellet production. Recognizing this problem, Benetech designed its MaxZone and MaxZone Plus systems.
By Pellet Mill Magazine Staff | August 25, 2022

Material handling is arguably one of the biggest challenges in wood pellet production. Oftentimes, problematic load zones result in spillage and excess dust, stymieing operational goals. Recognizing this problem, Benetech designed its MaxZone and MaxZone Plus systems. In addition to addressing spillage and dust issues, they enable extended performance, require less frequent maintenance, prolong equipment life and allow for greater safety—all at an affordable price. "Through experience, we found that many material handling facilities have issues, but funding isn't there to replace entire transfer systems or chutes within their facilities” says Kevin Jasin, Benetech technology manager. "Our goal was to offer a low-cost alternative."

The MaxZone system is a modular, heavy-duty skirt system with an externally adjustable wear liner. This system is installed in four-foot sections, as many as required to achieve the desired length and height to create a stilling or chamber where dust can settle before it exits the skirt system. "The MaxZone is built in modular sections, and it's extremely robust for any application," Jasin says. "As Benetech moved forward, we designed our related skirt systems in a modular fashion, which can be bolted directly onto the MaxZone system. The idea was to offer a series of products to fit every skirt system need."

Typically, transfer system installations may be two or three systems high from a head pulley or head section of a conveyor down to the receiving conveyor, which can be anywhere from a 20- to 50-foot drop, Jasin explains. “In many cases, we found the most dust was generated at the loading point—the very bottom of these transfers, by how the material was loading onto the belt. In determining the easiest way to correct this, we took our MaxZone system and integrated a small rear deflector and side deflectors that correct the material flow right before it hits the conveyor. This led us to the development of the MaxZone Plus."

The MaxZone Plus system has a simple design that bolts onto the existing MaxZone or can be retrofitted to other containment systems. "The side wings and rear deflector are the guts of MaxZone Plus and can be adjusted to conditions from outside of the system to correctly center load material,” Jasin says. “For example, if the material flow came in aggressively from one side of the loading center, the material would likely fall to one side, resulting in uneven loading and dusting. Without any means to control the material, the material is free to hit and bounce off surfaces, creating additional dust."

The MaxZone Plus deflectors limit the dust generated at the loading point and secure center loading onto the receiving conveyor belt so that once material leaves the skirt system, it does not spill off the belt.

In addition to reducing dust in fragile pellet production, the MaxZone Plus helps keep product intact through the flow correction in a directed manner, reducing dust from the loading area. Benetech has numerous installations at pellet manufacturing plants and other bulk material handling facilities. "We have installed these systems in a number of places, and they're performing extremely well,” Jasin adds. “They direct material flow, limit product degradation, and decrease dust simultaneously, and at a cost that is nowhere near it would be for an entire transfer system."