Latest News

a floveyor conveyor with custom design headchute

Brownfield conveyor design: OEM insight for engineers

Optimising your powder handling solution when integrating new machinery and equipment into an existing plant can be tricky, especially if it’s not something you often do. Manufacturers of conveying equipment have a wealth of knowledge about conveyor design. If you’re planning to expand, refurbish or revitalise your brownfield plant, tapping into their insight gleaned from thousands of installations can be invaluable to the success of your project.


We’ve created this guide to help process engineers get the most value out of their brownfield plant integrations.


Challenges of conveyor selection for brownfield vs greenfield projects

For process engineers, one of the biggest challenges when selecting conveying equipment for brownfield projects is working within the constraints of an existing facility. Retrofitting bulk material handling systems into an established plant presents hurdles that need additional consideration not required for greenfield installations.

Importance of getting conveyor design right – right from the start

To ensure the success of a conveyor project in a brownfield site, process engineers must develop a thorough understanding of the project objectives and gather insights from all stakeholders. This involves proactively engaging with operations, maintenance, and quality control teams to identify specific pain points and challenges they face with the current equipment, conveyors, or processes.
Armed with this knowledge, process engineers can collaborate closely with experienced conveyor manufacturers early in the project planning phase. By leveraging the manufacturer’s expertise and thoroughly evaluating the specific requirements of the brownfield site, process engineers can ensure the selected conveying equipment is optimally designed to reliably meet production needs while seamlessly integrating with the existing plant infrastructure.

Space constraints and plant layout

With every brownfield powder handling project, one of the first challenges is navigating the limitations of the existing plant. OEMs emphasise the importance of thoroughly assessing the available space and identifying potential obstacles early in the planning process.


A Floveyor food and beverage process line with limited access and height contraints. 

A Floveyor truck loader with top access frame for safe maintenance access

A Floveyor truck loader with top access frame.

Tight spaces and restricted areas

Brownfield powder handling expansions quite often demand a little creative thinking. Process engineers must work closely with conveyor system manufacturers to evaluate the feasibility of different conveyor configurations, like using more compact designs, custom-engineered solutions, mobile units, or modular components that can be assembled onsite to fit the available space.

Site audits and measurements for conveyor design

Conducting comprehensive site audits and taking precise measurements are crucial to ensuring the selected conveying equipment physically fits and functions properly in the existing plant layout. Tools like 3D laser scanning and even point cloud modelling can help create accurate digital representations of the plant, which can help identify potential interferences and optimise conveyor routing. The outputs of these exercises can be shared with OEMs as a shortcut to early specification discussions and to assist in quoting your new powder handling conveying equipment.

Access ways and maintenance access

When integrating new conveyors into a brownfield site, conveyor system manufacturers can provide guidance on the minimum clearances required for safe operation, cleaning, and servicing of the equipment. This may involve finding ways to work around existing utilities, piping, or other obstacles to accommodate the conveyor and ensure long-term maintainability.

Taking existing obstacles into consideration

In some cases, a brownfield site may have existing pipes, columns, or other fixed structures that cannot be easily moved. An experienced powder handling OEM can offer customised solutions using a variety of technologies to navigate complex routes while maintaining project objectives, including:

Fixed vs mobile plant equipment

A Floveyor custom designed mobile conveyor unit
A Floveyor custom conveyor system with mobile frame

Conveyor system manufacturers can provide guidance on the advantages and limitations of fixed and mobile plant set-ups, based on the specific application and process routes. Mobile conveying units offer flexibility for future modifications but may require additional planning for power supply and interface points with fixed equipment.

Mobile systems allow for: 

  • flexibility
  • quick installation for shorter lead times
  • lower CAPEX due to the requirement of less civil works or modification to existing infrastructure
  • versatility
  • cleanability
  • temporal or seasonal operations
  • maintenance and accessiblity

Accounting for existing infrastructure in conveyor design

When designing bulk material handling conveyors for brownfield projects, process engineers must carefully consider how the new equipment will integrate with the plant’s existing infrastructure. This involves a thorough evaluation of the current power sources, utilities, control systems, and compliance requirements.

Integration with the current environment

Brownfield conveyor system design ensures new equipment can be seamlessly integrated with the plant’s existing power sources and utilities. This may require close coordination with the facility’s electrical and mechanical teams to assess the available power capacity, voltage, and connection points. Bulk material handling conveyor design teams must also consider the compatibility of the new equipment with existing compressed air, water, or other utility systems, to avoid costly modifications or upgrades.

Matching new equipment to existing control systems

Another key consideration in conveyor design for brownfield sites is matching the new powder handling conveying equipment to the plant’s existing control systems. Process engineers should work closely with conveyor systems manufacturers to ensure new equipment can communicate effectively with the current control architecture. 

Code and safety compliance for older facilities

Implementation of new conveying equipment can be fast-tracked when OEMs and process engineers collaborate. It helps to identify and address gaps between the existing plant’s compliance status and the current codes and standards early in the project to mitigate project risk, and preserve timelines. This may involve upgrading safety guarding, emergency stop systems, or electrical components to meet the latest OHS regulations and ensure a safe working environment for operators.

Dust control and containment needs

When designing conveyors for brownfield projects involving bulk materials that are dusty or prone to producing dust during processing, controlling and containing dust must be a design priority to ensure safe and efficient operations. Proper dust management is essential for maintaining air quality, preventing cross-contamination, and protecting workers and equipment from the potential hazards associated with airborne particles.

Why proper dust collection is so important

Effective conveyor design incorporates appropriate dust collection tailored to the specific material properties and process requirements. The dust control strategy for a plant – containment and capture, dust collection and filtration, housekeeping and administrative controls – informs what kind of dust control system is used.

Used at key transfer points or discharge areas, dust collection systems can capture and remove airborne particles. These include:

  • site extraction
  • localised equipment-based extraction.

Containment methods in conveyor design

Enclosed conveyors like tubular drag conveyors, aero-mechanical conveyors or pneumatic conveyors offer a high level of containment by fully enclosing the material during transfer. These conveyor designs prevent dust escape, reduce the risk of contamination, and minimise exposure to the surrounding environment and people working in the plant.

Personnel safety

Another consideration when modifying existing powder handling operations is keeping everyone and everything safe. Dust explosions are a major hazard in many bulk material handling applications, particularly when dealing with fine powders or combustible powders such as sugar, sawdust, or gunpowder. The conveyor design should include appropriate protection measures to mitigate the risk of dust explosions and protect personnel.

In addition, inhaling airborne dust particles can pose health risks to operators and maintenance teams, including respiratory issues and long-term health effects. Conveyor design should prioritise the use of effective dust control measures and proper ventilation to maintain a safe working environment. This may involve integrating the conveyor system with the facility’s overall dust collection and air filtration infrastructure to ensure consistent and reliable dust control.

Cleaning and containment requirements

When introducing new conveying equipment into a brownfield project, it’s vital to evaluate the effectiveness of current cleaning methods – such as dry cleaning and wet cleaning – depending on the nature of the powders being handled. Another consideration is whether you can clean in place (CIP) or clean out of place (COP). If necessary, consideration should be given to the availability and suitability of cleaning equipment to effectively remove contaminants and prevent cross-contamination between different materials and batches. These can include vacuum systems, air blowers, or specialised cleaning tools. Alternatively, look for conveyors and conveying solutions that provide total batch transfers to reduce scheduled downtime needed for cleaning between batches.

Material handling

Conveyor manufacturers need detailed information about all the materials to be handled in the process line. This includes specifications such as particle size, bulk density, moisture content, abrasiveness, and cohesiveness.

Detail ALL materials used in the process

Process engineers should compile a complete list of all the bulk materials to be conveyed, including their physical properties, flow characteristics, and any unique handling requirements like whether the materials are blends or mixes. Providing accurate material data enables conveyor OEMs to select the most suitable conveyor type, size, and configuration for each specific application.

Material condition, characteristics, lumps, and foreign contaminants

Assess the presence of lumps, agglomerates, or foreign contaminants that may impact the conveying process, and provide this information in your initial specifications. Conveyor OEMs can recommend appropriate preconditioning equipment, such as lump breakers, screens, or magnets to ensure consistent and clean materials are fed into the conveying system.

Material degradation and segregation during conveying should also be considered. Conveyor OEMs can suggest gentle handling solutions for sensitive materials to maintain product quality. Process engineers should provide information on the material’s flowability, cohesiveness, and tendency to bridge or rathole. Additionally, understanding the flow properties of materials helps in designing effective hopper geometries and discharge aids to prevent blockages. If this information is not available, look for an OEM that has the capability to test the materials to help determine which conveyor can best handle their material and operating conditions.

Container type(s) the materials are delivered in

Whether the materials arrive in bulk bags, drums, or other containers, the conveying system must be designed to accommodate specific unloading and handling requirements for the application. Conveyor OEMs can integrate suitable unloading stations, bag break stations, or container tipping devices into the overall conveying solution to ensure efficient material transfer.

Often conveyor systems manufacturers can provide the ancillary equipment needed in a powder handling conveying solution at a much more affordable price than sourcing elsewhere or fabricating your own. The added benefit is when purchased from the conveyor system manufacturer, the ancillary equipment will fit seamlessly into your conveyor design.

Sanitary/cross-contamination requirements

Clean design standards for powder handling conveyors are crucial in industries where hygiene and sanitation are paramount, such as the food and beverage, pharmaceutical, cosmetics, and critical minerals industries. These standards ensure conveyors can be thoroughly and efficiently cleaned to prevent contamination, maintain product quality, and comply with regulatory requirements. The key aspects of clean design standards for conveyor system design includes:

  • Sanitary design and construction materials that are easy to clean and resist corrosion, like stainless steel and polymer ropes. Surface finishes on product contact surfaces should be smooth to limit places where material or bacteria can cling.
  • Ease of cleaning and the ability to easily disassemble and reassemble are critical factors in sanitary design. The conveyor design should allow easy cleaning, including the possibility of CIP systems.
  • Enclosed system conveyors help prevent loose powder from becoming airborne. This design feature also helps in preventing product contamination.
  • Compliance with sanitary standards like those set by the FDA, USDA, and EHEDG. These standards guide the design, construction, and fabrication of conveying equipment to ensure it meets hygiene requirements.
  • Design features for specific material handling should consider the characteristics of the materials being handled, like moisture content, fat content, and whether the materials are hygroscopic. This affects the choice of conveyor type and design features to prevent sticking, clumping, and blockages.
  • Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) considerations include equipment cleanability, sanitary manufacturing techniques, and the use of washdown-resistant materials. Equipment should also comply with FDA-approved materials for gaskets and filters.
control panel on a custom conveyor for dry clean

Product safety

Product safety, especially in critical minerals and food and beverage applications, requires extra scrutiny when selecting conveying equipment. Product accumulation on conveyor surfaces or in hard-to-reach areas can lead to expensive product contamination, serious quality issues, and potential recalls. The conveyor design should facilitate easy cleaning and maintenance, with accessible inspection points, removable covers, and clean-in-place (CIP) features to ensure proper hygiene and prevent product contamination.

Ancillary equipment requirements for conveyor system design

Additional equipment components ensure smooth material handling and complete your powder handling solution. These components play a critical role in the system’s performance and reliability.

Additional components to a conveyor system design

Conveyor system design may need to incorporate appropriate feeding devices, such as a dosing screw feeder or trough screw feeder, to provide a controlled material flow into the conveyor. Process engineers should collaborate with the conveyor manufacturer to specify compatible feeders based on material properties and required feed rates.

Properly sized hoppers are essential for ensuring a steady material supply to the conveyor, minimising fluctuations and preventing flow issues. Detail on hopper capacity, discharge patterns, and any necessary flow aids is also helpful for OEMs during conveyor system design.

Headroom and footprint considerations

One of the big challenges for a brownfield site is whether new conveying machinery will fit in the current plant. Optimising the equipment arrangement with the conveyor manufacturer is recommended and should include detail on maintenance access, clearance requirements and potential interferences with the existing structure. The OEM is likely to have had hundreds or thousands of installations with similar challenges and often has solid advice about the best way to proceed.

Energy and utility use of the total conveyor system

As energy prices rise, power consumption of the conveyor and all the associated equipment must be factored into any conveyor system design. Process line technology like feeders, hoppers, and dust collection systems contribute to the overall power usage and the long-term total cost of ownership of your conveyor system. The most efficient conveyor system design aims to minimise energy usage while meeting the required throughput and performance standards. Conveyor manufacturers can provide guidance on selecting energy-efficient conveying systems and control strategies to optimise overall system efficiency.

Maintenance and servicing considerations for conveyor design

Engaging with OEMs early in the process of conveyor system design can provide valuable insights and guidance to a brownfield operation. This assists with developing a conveyor solution that is efficient and easily maintained in the existing plant.

Conveyor design for easy cleaning, inspection and maintenance in cramped spaces

Space constraints often pose challenges, so it’s essential to plan for adequate access to conveyors in cramped spaces. This may involve considering vertical and horizontal access points, as well as the overall footprint of the equipment. Incorporating features such as removable covers, strategically placed inspection doors and modular components helps reduce the time required for servicing and lowers the total cost of ownership in the long run. Mobile units are a viable alternative to fixed plant when space is tight.

Consumables, spare parts planning, and inventory

The availability and management of spare parts can also impact productivity. Process engineers should work closely with OEMs to identify critical consumables that require regular replacement, such as ropes, belts, bearings, and seals. By establishing a comprehensive spare parts inventory and planning for timely replenishment, plants can minimise the risk of extended unplanned downtime due to component failure. Additionally, standardising conveyor selection across all the plants in your organisation can streamline inventory management and reduce the need for multiple spare part varieties.

Training requirements

One feature of conveyor system design that often gets overlooked is the impact of ongoing training. Process engineers should assess how easy or hard it is to operate the powder handling machinery and equipment and determine the level of expertise required to operate and maintain the chosen conveyor systems effectively.

Collaborating with OEMs to develop targeted training programs ensures plant personnel are well-equipped to handle routine maintenance tasks and troubleshoot common issues. This proactive approach to training can greatly reduce the likelihood of equipment breakdowns caused by improper operation or maintenance. The reverse is also true: when a good maintenance schedule is followed by trained operators, the life of the conveying equipment is extended.

Supplier capabilities and experience

Partnering with an experienced original equipment manufacturer (OEM) can make a significant difference in the success of a brownfield project. They have the benefit of working across multiple industries and applications and have likely seen a situation very similar, if not exactly the same, as yours. Consider an OEM to be a trusted adviser when selecting conveying equipment.

Importance of an experienced OEM

Experienced OEMs have a deep understanding of design standards and manufacturing guidelines specific to the conveying equipment they produce. They can provide valuable insights and recommendations based on their extensive knowledge of industry best practices and regulatory requirements. Process engineers should prioritise manufacturers with a proven track record of successfully executing brownfield projects, as they will be better equipped to navigate the unique challenges associated with existing plant environments.

Value of CAD services, simulations, and materials testing

Comprehensive CAD services, simulations, and materials testing can help optimise conveyor design and performance. These tools allow engineers to visualise the equipment within the existing plant layout, identify potential issues, and make necessary adjustments before installation. Materials testing by the OEM is extremely valuable and allows you to determine whether the conveyor you want is able to transfer your materials at the capacity you desire. By leveraging the OEM’s expertise, process engineers can ensure the selected conveying equipment is well-suited to the requirements of the brownfield project.

Local installation availability

Working with an OEM that has a strong local presence and a reliable distribution network can streamline the installation process and minimise logistical challenges. This is particularly important in brownfield projects where tight schedules and limited access to the site can complicate installation efforts. OEMs with local distribution partners in your area can help overcome language barriers, time zone challenges, and cultural differences that can be hard to navigate if the OEM is in a different country or continent.

Post-sales service and support

Do not overlook post-sales service and support. Process engineers should evaluate the OEM’s commitment to providing ongoing technical assistance, troubleshooting, and maintenance support. A responsive and knowledgeable support team can quickly resolve any issues that may arise during installation and regular operation. The support and service culture at the OEM can impact downtime and availability of the conveying equipment.


Selecting conveying equipment for a brownfield project requires a comprehensive approach that addresses the unique challenges of an existing plant. Key considerations include space limitations, integration with existing infrastructure, dust control, material handling, ancillary equipment, and maintenance.


Collaborating closely with experienced conveyor OEMs early in the planning process is crucial. They offer expertise in conveyor design, customised solutions, and integration strategies. They provide guidance on dust management, material handling, and ancillary equipment selection and can package together a complete conveying system that works seamlessly in your plant.


Look to partner with OEMs that offer comprehensive services, such as CAD modelling, simulations, materials testing, and post-sales support, all of which make vital contributions to project success. A holistic approach that prioritises early collaboration, thorough consideration of site-specific requirements, and a focus on long-term performance and maintainability is essential.


By following this guidance, process engineers can navigate the complexities of brownfield conveyor design and optimise their bulk material handling operations.

Integrating new powder handling equipment into your brownfield plant?

Get in touch with Floveyor for advice on powder handling for your brownfield operation. As powder handling specialists with a long history in multiple industries, we can give you advice on how to best fit new conveying equipment into your plant.