Safer, faster, greener bulk materials handling at Momentive

Momentive Performance Materials Inc (MPM) is a world-leading specialty chemical company renowned for product and systems innovations that enhance the quality of everyday life. Floveyor’s versatility, mobility and effortless installation are a perfect conveying solution for Momentive’s huge range of materials and diverse site layouts.

The challenge

Momentive’s Oregon based facility needed to automate the manual transfer of around 100 fifty pound bags of cornstarch to a 13,000-pound capacity batch ribbon blender producing slurry for compounded polyvinyl acetate (PVA) adhesive processing.

This cumbersome manual material handling process taking up to an hour and a half was ergonomically risky for operators. It also affected blend integrity and reduced overall operating efficiency.

When MPM’s Portland site leader Nick Tetter and his plant operator visited their Missoula facility to watch a Floveyor adding prilled urea to resin batches, they knew they’d found their solution.

“We were impressed with how simple the conveyor was to operate. We realised that an aero-mechanical Floveyor would eliminate manual bag handling and improve our blending operation’s safety and efficiency,” said Tetter.

The solution

Fit for purpose design

Tetter worked with Californian Floveyor Partner FloAero Inc. to custom design an aero-mechanical conveyor for his operation. Where limited floor space and low headroom had presented insuperable problems for installing alternative forms of conveying, the F3 Floveyor’s, small footprint, portability and flexible modular design made for an effortless integration with MPM’s existing plant.

As Nick Tetter explains, ”when we’re not using the conveyor we move the screw feeder and safety frame out of the manufacturing area to our warehouse to open up floor space and keep the forklift traffic lane clear.”

Regulated gentle, rapid flow

Preparing the Floveyor to charge the blender is quick and simple. As Tetter describes it, “we just wheel everything back down to the conveyor, bolt the screw feeder’s feed tube to the conveyor’s feed tube, roll the safety frame over the feeder hopper and stage a bulk bag on the frame.”

Although the fully enclosed hopper fills in seconds once the operator opens the bag spout, transfer rates are regulated by the speed of the screw feeder. The Floveyor operates at a fixed speed to optimise its unique fluidising technology, which gently pulls the suspended cornstarch through the conveyor to the discharge chute.

The result

A custom-fit cornstarch conveying solution

MPM’s original F3 Floveyor met the challenge of automating an inefficient, ergonomically difficult process. It dramatically improved material throughputs resulting in superior batch integrity and a cleaner greener operation.

The new Floveyors enabled MPM’s Portland plant to:

  • Increase total batch transfer sizes to accommodate 2,000 to 4000 pounds of bulk bagged cornstarch
  • Slash blender charging times from 90 minutes to between 15 and 20 minutes
  • Eliminate the risk of repetitive lifting injury and free the plant operator to do a range of other tasks
  • Reduce maintenance and servicing to just two minor rope tension adjustments in a year
  • Run a very clean conveying operation by
    • Discharging the cornstarch directly into the blender through a dust-tight flexible hose
    • Hosing out the stainless steel conveyor at the end of each shift

Momentive Site Leader Nick Tetter summarised the advantages:

Improved efficiency and blend integrity

This has improved our blending operation efficiency. The Floveyor moves so much more material into the blender in such a short time with minimal labour.

About the installation

We made a hole in the mezzanine about four feet away from the blender inlet.  We installed the conveyor, so the conveying tubes run straight through the hole perpendicular to the floor.

To stabilize the conveyor, we anchored the feed housing assembly to the floor. We then secured the discharge housing assembly to a roof beam. A seven-foot-long six-foot diameter flex house now connects the discharge chute to the blender inlet. It provides a steep flow angle that ensures complete material discharge into the blender.”