Breweries like Miller Brewing Company’s Fort Worth, Texas facility demand efficient use of space — and for good reason. The production of beer from grain to glass requires moving barley malt and water (the two primary ingredients) from storage vessel to mash tun to boil kettle to bright tank.
Plagued by maintenance and housekeeping problems stemming from a single automatic diverter in the grain upload system, Roy Marin, staff engineer at the facility, decided to replace the troublesome component with a more cost-effective piping panel. The original design specifications included a manifold with a dozen 4-foot radius sweep elbows, but therein laid the problem: there wasn’t enough room at the installation point.
While researching alternative solutions to his engineering dilemma, Marin discovered Hammertek’s Smart Elbow deflection elbow and was intrigued by the component’s innovative design.
The revolutionary Smart Elbow deflection elbow is designed so that a slowly rotating ball of conveyed material is formed within a nearly spherical pocket at the bend of the elbow. This ball of rotating material, which is suspended in air, creates its own impact zone and the material flowing through the elbow is deflected around the bend. Very little material strikes the elbow walls, reducing wear to the elbow itself. Minimizing damage to the conveyed barley kernels is critical, because the hulls act as a filter bed during the mash.
Marin ultimately installed 12 six-inch diameter, 95-foot-long steel pipes with Smart Elbow models at the base of each storage silo. Construction and installation was simpler and less time-consuming than originally estimated — mainly because the simpler design saved a substantial amount of costly crane time — and as a result the project was finished several days early and under budget.
Two years after installation, all 12 Smart Elbow units were going strong and have presented no problems — no plugging, no surging and no wear-related failures. A spare Smart Elbow unit that was purchased for the panel installation was recently used to replace a conventional sweep elbow that continually wore through upstream in the unload line, and that one also has provided 100-percent reliability.
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