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Nowhere is this more evident than in the field of material handling, where the hard, abrasive materials used in ceramic products often cause problems. Processes such as grinding and dispersing, which frequently require excessive amounts of time and energy, can be handled much more efficiently in the newest generation of machines. For example, new media mills are designed to optimize grinding and minimize energy consumption by equally distributing intense grinding action throughout the grinding chamber in a continuous operation, and by allowing virtually all operating parameters to be changed to correspond directly to the material being processed. Likewise, new blungers are also designed to reduce energy consumption by providing a more intense dispersing action in a shorter amount of time. (See http://www.ceramicindustry.com/CDA/ArticleInformation/features/BNP__Features__Item/0,2710,121868,00.html.)
Companies that want the size reduction benefits of a jet mill without high maintenance requirements and the risk of cross-contamination can now have the best of all worlds, thanks to new machines that are designed for easy cleaning access. Instead of using closed compressed air manifolds, the new mills feature open manifolds with a simple assembly of plates and rings that disassembles in minutes to provide complete accessibility to the internal material grinding chamber and the compressed air chamber. (See http://www.ceramicindustry.com/CDA/ArticleInformation/features/BNP__Features__Item/0,2710,121859,00.html.)
Material conveying operations have also become more flexible and efficient. Moving floor systems, once relegated only to products with low wear characteristics, have been redesigned to withstand the high impact and abrasion of materials used in the ceramic industry. As a result, today's plants can move a variety of different materials-from light to extremely dense products, and from fine materials to large rocks and boulders-using the same equipment. Additionally, variable speed control allows material to be indexed to other equipment at a regulated rate, thereby minimizing wear and maintenance throughout a plant's material handling operations. (See http://www.ceramicindustry.com/CDA/ArticleInformation/coverstory/BNPCoverStoryItem/0,2708,121748,00.html.)
More new developments will be highlighted at upcoming trade shows such as the International Powder & Bulk Solids Conference/Exhibition in Rosemont, Ill., May 3-6. More than 500 exhibitors are scheduled to display their products and services at this event, and many companies are using this opportunity to launch new innovations designed to assist the material handling industry.
The bottom line is that suppliers are responding to the industry's needs. But perhaps even more importantly, they continue to look for ways to improve their products. If you're having problems in your material handling operation, contact the suppliers in Ceramic Industry and browse through the offerings at industry shows. A solution is undoubtedly right around the corner-and might already be waiting for you.