Material Handling of Plastic Granules: the PiovanGroup Solutions

The automation of resin conveying has marked a major turning point in the world of plastic materials and still represents one of the main areas of innovation and study. While there are now established solutions for the sector, what makes the difference are solutions designed to respond to very specific problems. The solutions adopted for companies in different sectors and of very different sizes are now part of PiovanGroup’s expertise and represent the ideal basis on which to develop further innovations.

Material handling: the big picture

Plastic granule material handling is the backbone of automation systems for the production of polymers or recycled plastic products. This is the activity concerning the material handling of granules conveying from one point to another within the production facility. Whereas in the past this process was mostly done manually, today automation of the movement through pipes and ducts is employed in most cases.
Indeed, the automated and centralised conveying of plastic granules offers numerous advantages: it rationalises production, simplifies processes and reduces overall costs. In addition, it facilitates traceability by monitoring every stage of production and reduces the risk of errors and damage to the transported raw material.

It can take place in three main ways: in thrust with positive pressure, in depression in the dense phase or in depression in the dilute or semi-dilute phase.

PiovanGroup’s conveying solutions

Thanks to many years of experience in the industry, the PiovanGroup today can develop plastic granule conveying solutions ranging from basic to highly complex and technologically advanced, capable of meeting even the most demanding challenges. These are designed to maintain control over issues such as material picking, handling and traceability as well as addressing the most common problems in the area of granule conveying.

Material handling systems

Abrasion of pipes and receivers, the generation of dust and angel hair: these are the main critical issues in the material handling of plastic granule. How to avoid them? There are several plant solutions that PiovanGroup provides. Starting with the use of inverter pumps that allow different vacuum values depending on the conveying distance. Inverter pumps, for example, are ideal for rPET, a material that tends to generate a lot of angel hair. In addition, in some cases it is necessary to use piping with shot-blasted internal surfaces, designed to make the conveying material bounce slightly, thus avoiding chafing.

Bends are the pipeline element with the greatest risk of abrasion, which is why special solutions may be required. For example, the elbow bends designed and manufactured by the Pelletron brand that, thanks to their unique design, generate a temporary plastic bearing that protects the bend itself from abrasion. Or the use of glass bends, which are highly resistant to rubbing.

Piovan also offers other solutions for the removal of dust, angel hair and impurities: as simple as grates, or more complex but also more efficient like the renowned Pelletron dust collectors, which completely block angel hair. Also worth mentioning is the possibility of applying filters, which are extremely useful when conveying very dusty material. They can be applied to the silos themselves or they can be self-cleaning central filters to be installed before the vaccum unit, with the possibility of emptying the receiver without stopping it. Up to HEPA filters, which are necessary in those areas – such as medical – where the product must be guaranteed against contamination from external agents.

Finally, it is important to highlight solutions for the removal of metallic impurities such as passive magnetic separators, i.e. neodymium magnets that block ferromagnetic impurities. Or active solutions, used especially where there is the presence of recycled or post-consumer material. In this case, a magnetic coil detects the passage of ferrous material and pneumatic automation removes it from conveying. The presence of ferrous material can create major damage to the plasticising screw of the press or clog the injection nozzles.

Noise solutions

Imagine a constant background noise of granules flowing in twenty or thirty hundred metre long pipes in an enclosed space. An annoyance that can become a real problem. Here again, Piovan can guarantee effective results, thanks to the soundproofing of the pipes, which considerably reduce the noise. By insulating the pipe with suitable material and thickness, the Piovan solution reduces noise by up to 14 dB(A). Remember that for every 3 dB(A) of reduction there is a halving of the intensity.

The Piovan approach

The approach that distinguishes Piovan is based on:

  • Propose original, tailor-made solutions, depending on the problems but also on each client’s portfolio.
  • Responding promptly to a wide variety of needs, with know-how gained through years of experience but also continuous investment in research, in order to always be innovative.

For this, at its HQ in S. Maria di Sala (Venice, Italy), Piovan designed and installed a system to carry out tests replicating the problems encountered by customers and identify the correct solutions.

Designed to offer multiple combinations, the system features:

  • Flow rate up to 4,000 m /h;3
  • 60, 76, 89 and 100 mm diameter pipes;
  • Sections that combined cover lengths from 80 to 300 m;
  • Treated with special internal surfaces for specific tests on angel hair generation;
  • Operation with data loggers for in-depth data analysis and creation of a materials library;
  • Pipeline system enabling continuous cycle operation.

This test facility is a concrete example of Piovan’s commitment to constant progress in a field that requires constant evolution. Just think of the increase in recycled plastic materials, which undoubtedly increase the problems in conveying. Being at the side of customers and investing in research is the Group’s DNA.

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