The Terminology used in industries relating to the weighing, batching, mixing, and automation can often be confusing and vary from company to company or industry to industry. This section of Sterling Systems & Controls website is designed to provide clear and understandable definitions of various terminology used both in industry and within our website.
The terminology will be arranged alphabetically but may be out of order for a time while it is being developed. We thank you in advance for your patience and hope this is beneficial to all visitors to our website.
Auger Feeder: An Auger Feeder, a.k.a. Screw Feeder, is a type of dry material feeder commonly used in minor and micro ingredient batching systems to feed material from each ingredient supply bin to a weigh scale or scale hopper. The screw feeder could adjust its feed rate based on the screw or auger size, number and shape of individual flights on the screw or auger, and the speed of the drive for the feeder.
Automation: Automation can be defined in a few different ways. But for our purposes here Automation is the application of technology in a custom engineered manner to monitor and control a process of production, such as the production and delivery of various goods and services in a wide range of industries. Automation will perform tasks or processes that were previously performed manually by operators (human beings). Sometimes Automation is referred to as Process Control, which it is, but Automation can be the application of technology to automate things other than processes. Industries where automation is routinely employed include agriculture, food manufacturing, chemical production, refining, and many other industries.
Automatic: This terminology section will define the term Automatic in regards to a Batching System. A batching system has two functions which can be done as either manual or automatic. In a Manual manner an operator performs the function. In Automatic the system automation performs the task in some manner. In batching systems the function of feeding each ingredient into the batch container/transport and then delivering each completed batch to the next step in the process.
Batching System: In the process manufacturing industries such as feed, food and many others, a “batching system” is one in which the semi-automatic or automatic collection of multiple ingredient dry solids and/or liquids. The dry and liquid ingredient materials are either automatically or manually fed into a collection container or automatically transferred to the next process step, such as a mixer, via mechanical or pneumatic conveyance. Batching systems may also be referred to as Micro Ingredient Batching Systems, Minor Ingredient Batching Systems, Bulk Batching Systems, Automatic or Semi-Automatic Batching Systems (automatic and semi-automatic refers to the feeding of ingredient materials), Material Weighing Systems, Material Batching Systems, Hand Prompt Batching Stations (referring to the system which prompts an operator to manually feed material ingredients into a batching container), and Kitchen Systems.
Bulk Bag: A bulk bag is also referred to technical as an FIBC, or Flexible Intermediate Bulk Container. These bags are containers to hold dry materials, powders and granular materials. They are made of flexible fabric, such as polyethylene or polypropylene. They expand to fit the dry material. They have an opening in the top and a discharge or outlet in the bottom of the bag. A wide variety of flexible bulk bags containers exist, differences in shape, inlet, discharge etc. Filling and Emptying FIBC’s are accomplished with specialized process equipment custom engineered and manufactured to fit the specific application requirement. These machines are often equipped with scales and weighing systems. Bulk Bag Filling/Packaging systems and Bulk Bag Discharge/Unloading Systems.
Bulk Material Handling: This is an engineering field involved with the design of equipment used for the handling of bulk dry materials such as those which are powdery, granular or lumpy in nature, and are stored in “heaps” in bins, silos, open piles, etc. Often bulk material handling systems are engineered for moving dry materials from one point to another. The ability of a dry bulk solid material to flow is a function of the material and the equipment handling it. An easy-flowing bulk solid material placed in the wrong piece of equipment can become difficult to handle. If it is placed in the correct equipment, it can flow reliably. There are methods that can be employed to promote the flow or movement of bulk solid materials. Mixing and blending of bulk solids is an important processing step in many industries. Batching incorporates the feeding of dry bulk solid materials into a “batch” for mixing or other downstream processing.
Controls: a.k.a. Process Controls , related to Automation.
Conveyor: A conveyor is a mechanical apparatus that transports material. Many different kinds of conveyors exist. For our context here we are talking about and defining conveyors that are used to transport bulk dry materials, powders, granular materials etc. In bulk material conveyors there are general two types, pneumatic and mechanical drag. Both pneumatic conveyors and drag conveyors are defined within this Terminology section.
Drag Conveyor: No, this is NOT a conveyor dressed in drag. It is a conveyor named for its method of moving granular and powder material by dragging it from point A to point B. They can be used to move material in elevation as well as in linear motion. Typically consisting of a drive chain and paddles or blades that capture and “drag” material along. One reason for using drag conveyors is they are more flexible in terms of the type of material they can move, wider range of bulk densities, particle size etc.
Typically the sizing of a drag conveyor depends upon:
- What the conveyor is to handle
- What the average particle size will be
- What the expected amount of material is that needs to be move, such described in Tons Per Hour
- How the drag conveyor will be loaded
- At what elevation the drag conveyor will discharge
- What is the horizontal distance from center of inlet to center
of discharge, etc.
Dust Collector: Processing of powder materials can create airborne dust. This can be problematic in many situations and hazardous. From toxic to explosive dusts, this problem can cause property damage, injury and loss of life. Therefore, when airborne dust can be created in a process it usually requires being contained and collected. This is common in material weighing and batching applications. A dust collector is used to collect and provide temporary storage of dust from a process point.
Dust collection from an automatic or semi-automatic ingredient batching system can be required at two points in the batching system. First is at the point where the powder material is fed into the batch container. The second is during supply of each ingredient material into its respective supply bin.
Feeder: The terminology word “feeder” is used as a noun within the context of batching systems. A Feeder is a device or person that moves ingredients in a batching system from the ingredient container to the weighing scale. Automatic batching systems use automated feeders such as screw (auger) type or vibratory type feeders. In semi-automatic batching systems or manual batching, a person or operator is used as the “feeder”. Usually the operator uses a scoop to move an ingredient from its container to a weighing container on a scale. Advantages of Sterling Systems screw or auger type feeders are several.
Grinder: The term Grinder in this industrial perspective is a generic reference to a piece of process equipment that reduces the particle size of a bulk solid material. There are several different types of “Grinders”, each defined by some aspect of its method of operation, such as a Hammermill, an Air Classifier, a Ball Mill, Roller Mills, Pin Mills, Jet Mills and Colloid Mills.
Manual: In the batching function a “manual batching” system is one that uses an operator to feed ingredients into a batch container on a scale for weighing, and also the operator manually moves the completed batch in the batching container to the next step in the process which is typically a mixer and dumps the batched ingredients into the mixer. Both feeding of ingredients and movement of completed batches are done manually, by an operator.
Micro: This term is generally used in describing the general weighment size for an automatic batching system. In a automatic batching system the ingredients, based on the chosen formula to be made, are fed from the ingredient supply bin the the appropriate scale hopper for weighing an accurate amount according to the formula being run. A “Micro” weighment (refer to definition of “Weighment” within this Terminology page) is generally anything less than 50lbs (22.7Kg). Often micro weighments are as low as several grams and the scale hoppers can be relatively small. The term “micro” in regards to ingredient batching systems is often generically used in the Feed industry regardless of weighment size.
Minor: This term is generally used in describing the general weighment size for an automatic batching system. In a automatic batching system the ingredients, based on the chosen formula to be made, are fed from the ingredient supply bin the the appropriate scale hopper for weighing an accurate amount according to the formula being run. A “Minor” weighment (refer to definition of “Weighment” within this Terminology page) is generally runs from 50lbs (22.7Kg) up to around 150lbs (68.2Kg). Often micro weighments are as low as several grams and the scale hoppers can be relatively small. The term “minor” in regards to ingredient batching systems is often generically used in the Food and Baking industry regardless of weighment size.
Pneumatic Conveying: Simply put, pneumatic conveying is the conveyance of dry material powder or small granular materials using air as the motive of transport. A wide variety of powder materials such as flour, cement powder and granular materials such as plastic pellets, can be conveyed using pneumatic transport. There are two forms of pneumatic conveying, i.e. Dilute and Dense phase. As stated, Dilute and Dense refer to the phase or state of the dry material within the pneumatic conveying lines. Dense phase pneumatic conveying will move the material in desne packed slugs of material. Dilute phase moves the material entrained within the air stream in a relatively uniform stream from the source of material supply. More detail can be found at this industry website. This is an international site and terms may vary depending upon the country you are in. PNEUMATIC CONVEYING
Pneumatic conveying can use positive or negative pressure. Negative pressure systems are vacuum systems, positive pressure pneumatic conveying systems use a positive pressure blower. Pneumatic conveying within a batching system is used to move completed batches to the next process step, typically to a mixer. Most often negative pressure vacuum systems are used in batching systems.
Semi-Automatic: A semi-automatic batching system differs from both the automatic and manual systems. It is a combination of the two. The semi-automatic batching system will automatically provide step-by-step instructions to an operator for creating a batch. The system automatically controls the process of proceeding from one step to the next by weighing and comparing to the required amount and ensuring that the correct material has been used/added. The operator will feed each ingredient from it respective bin/box/container to the batch container for weighing on a scale controlled by the system. Once a batch is completed and verified by the system an operator manually moves or transports the batch container to the next step, typically to the mixer.
Valve: A Valve is a mechanical device that regulates the flow of a dry or liquid material. The flow can typically be ranged from 0-100% by a valve. There are several different types of valves, depending on the application. Some are used exclusively for dry materials like powder or granular solids. Others, specifically designed for use with liquids. Common valves used for regulating the flow of dry materials like powders are the Rotary Airlock Valve and the Slide Gate, the Iris Valve and the Butterfly Valve (designs available for liquids as well).
Weighment: No Terminology section would be complete without this specialized term, Weighment. A weighment is the weight measurement of a given item, ingredient, batch etc. In order to determine the scale requirements for ingredients it is often necessary to know what the minimum and maximum weighment is for each ingredient. This means identfying what the minimum and maximum weight value is of a specific ingredient. A weighment can be thought of as a single weight measurement value.