What to Consider When Buying an Air Cannon for Materials Flow and Handling

Air cannons are often used in feed bins, grain silos, and other such vertical storage pieces, in order to keep materials flowing properly. It's not unusual for materials in these types of storage units to cling to the sides of the bin, or they may cling to each other and create a type of bridge that stops the flow of material. Ratholing refers to a small hole in the middle of the flow of materials that sometimes form, so that the flow slows to a trickle. Whatever the problem you might be experiencing in your bin or silo, an air cannon can push the materials along and keep things moving as they should. Note a few things to consider when it comes to buying an air cannon for your materials flow and handling needs. 

1. Air volume versus strength

If your product tends to bridge, you may need more strength to break up this blockage. The same is true for ratholing, where the strength of air is needed to crumble the columns on either side of this tunnel.

On the other hand, for smaller pieces of material that may crumble under too much strength, you might need more air volume in short bursts to break up the blockage. As an example, cereal flakes may break under a strong air force, so a larger air volume might be needed for these types of food product. Don't assume that stronger air velocity is better for your product but note if you simply need more air versus more strength, or vice versa.

2. Mount

When materials begin to flow down your silo or bin, does it create vibration? This can happen with gravel, pebbles, and other hard substances. If so, you want a rigid steel mount for your air cannon. Choosing a plastic mount or anything that isn't as strong as steel can mean the air cannon literally vibrating right off the bin itself.

3. Flex hoses

For materials that tend to get blocked in all areas of your bin or silo and not just near the bottom, you might opt for flex hoses or pipes. These allow you to move the point of air discharge up and down the bin itself. This can mean addressing a rat hole at the top where materials are stuck or breaking up a bridge of materials even if they form near the upper part of the silo.