New solution for bucket build-up in rice elevators

by Emily Wilson
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Although most grain storage and handling methods have been the same for many years, the industry is continually making minor adjustments and improvements to the handling process to increase facility efficiency. Ricegrowers Cooperative of Australia recently did just that.

For years the cooperative spent countless hours of maintenance cleaning the rice pollard — bran from the husk of the rice — from their elevator buckets. Build-up was common after just a few weeks of operation. Determined to find a solution, Ricegrowers in 1998 set up a test elevator at its Yenda facility in New South Wales.

Eight different buckets, consisting of polyethylene, urethane, fabricated and stainless steel styles, were installed in sets of ten for the test. The buckets were provided by four different manufacturers, including Tapco Inc., St. Louis, Missouri, U.S., which supplied its polyethylene and urethane models.

After six months of testing, the Tapco style CC-HD urethane bucket accumulated the least amount of build-up, according to Chris Bell of Conveyor Products, Ltd., which distributes Tapco elevator buckets from its Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, headquarters. Wayne Thompson, Ricegrowers' engineering contract officer, said the premium that Ricegrowers will pay for urethane over other plastic buckets, such as polyethylene, is justified by the reduced hours of its maintenance personnel.

A similar test, set up in a Ricegrowers paddy rice elevator, also showed the strength and tear resistance superiority of the Tapco urethane bucket against other urethane elevator buckets tested, according to Mr. Bell. Ricegrowers now plans to convert many of its facility elevators to Tapco urethane buckets.