Chain disks, also known as chain-and-puck or tubular drag, are the ideal conveyance method for many bulk dry solids. Depending on the product, chain disks can convey up to around 250 lbs. of product per minute, run hundreds of feet from a single drive, and go about sharp and vertical bends. Like pneumatic conveyors, chain disks offer the ability to discharge at numerous points, but because they cannot diverge into separate paths they can only discharge along the path of the chain. Chain disks are known for being long-lasting, low-maintenance, gentle on product, and modular.
Chain disks use spaced-out disks (pucks) to convey bulk dry solids through tubing. Chain disks see very little friction due to the nature of the components themselves and the suspension of the pucks away from the tubing, which has three main benefits: there is minimal wear-and-tear on the system, the product sees little attrition, and a single drive can convey product up to 1,000 ft with up to 16 turns. And because virtually every product will bridge the gap between the pucks and tubing there is little to no roll-back, as shown in the video.
When compared to pneumatics, chain disks are gentler and lower cost, but have a lower cap on throughput, run length per drive, and distance between discharges.
When compared to augers, chain disks are superior in every way but up-front cost. The only applications where chain disks are not preferred are short, single-input-and-output runs with no angle change over 30 degrees.
Another distinct benefit of chain disks is modularity. An auger, screw conveyor, or belt conveyor, for example, would need to be replaced if the run is going to change. But with a chain disk you can simply add more piping and link more chain. This feature is particularly useful for production lines that develop new products or may need to move around in the future.
Food-Grade Chain Disks
When many people think of food-grade puck conveyance they think of cable-based systems. Cables have their place and we do use them from time to time, but they come with a few drawbacks in terms of cost. They are both more expensive up-front and need to be replaced more often because of their tendency to wind up over time. For many food-grade applications, food-grade chains are the solution.
There are a number of sizes and options available, and each product will see different conveyance rates and maximum run lengths. For the sake of comparison, these are the two most popular diameters and the impact of product on throughputs.
- 2-3/8″ (50 lbs/min whole grain, 35 lbs/min milled grain)
- 4″ (240 lbs/min whole grain, 175 lbs/min milled grain)
- Clear (PVC)
- Colored (PVC)
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