ROM Ore Metering Bin
This is an example of a rock ore bin handling a mix of large particles and fines that is suffering from chronic bridging. It is a good example of an instance where the behavior of the Feeder is inducing rat-holing and bridging.
The Existing Storage and Feed Arrangement and Why it is Suffering from Chronic Plugging and Inconsistent Discharge
The existing bin consists of a narrow 6.5-foot diameter ore pass leading to a short hopper and an apron feeder.
In summary, the bin is suffering from chronic plugging because the apron feeder is withdrawing material preferentially from rear of the hopper, which is inducing a funnel flow discharge pattern that is extending up into the ore pass. Funnel flow (which is a first-in, last-out discharge pattern) can be made to work with a large discharge outlet. However, when the discharge outlet is small, gravity is insufficient to overcome the strength of the bulk solid at the discharge outlet, and hence chronic bridging and rat-holing is expected.
The alternative to a funnel flow discharge pattern is mass flow. Mass flow is a first-in, first-out discharge pattern where the entire mass of stored material comes down as a single body (single mass). To achieve this, material must discharge evenly from the entire discharge outlet of the storage bin. The tell-tale sign that you have mass flow is that material is sliding down the hopper walls. In contrast, with funnel flow, material is stagnant along the hopper walls. When the feeder withdraws material preferentially from one side of the hopper, then material is not permitted to withdraw evenly from the entire discharge outlet of the storage bin. The result is stagnant material along the bin walls and a funnel flow discharge pattern.
The solution to fixing this problem bin has two parts.
The first half of the solution is to discard the existing hopper and replace it with a plane flow hopper with sufficiently steep hopper walls needed to produce a mass flow discharge pattern. The plane flow hopper is the most conservative hopper shape. The purpose of using a conservative bin shape with a long and wide discharge outlet is to employ a geometry where if the Feeder were removed, the entire bin would self-empty with gravity in a mass flow or first-in, first-out discharge pattern.
The second half of the solution is to pair the plane flow hopper with a fully-effective feeder, which withdraws material evenly from its entire opening. A fully effective feeder is, by definition, necessary to actually achieve a mass flow discharge pattern in the hopper, which is necessary when handling a difficult flowing rock ore that contains a mix of large particles and fines.
To learn more about the physics of storage bin and feeder design as well as the root causes of bin plugging, please download our white paper entitled: The Design of Reliable Storage Bins and Feeders for the Mining Industry.