Trailer Talk

Portable Vac-Mounted Vibrator Works Where Grain Loads Jam

December 30, 2013

SHARING TOOLS        | Print Subscribe

A frustrating part of being a bulk commodities driver is having a jam occur somewhere in the trailer during offloading, interrupting the material flow and setting him to work trying to break it free. That usually means hammering on a trailer’s side walls, but a Midwestern carrier has found a new product that’s effective, portable, lightweight and easy to use.

Vibrator weighs under 10 pounds and is easy to move around. It runs off air from a tractor’s compressor.
Vibrator weighs under 10 pounds and is easy to move around. It runs off air from a tractor’s compressor.

It’s a vacuum-mounted, non-impacting linear vibrator from Martin Vibration Systems and it causes even difficult materials to flow more easily, according to drivers and officials at Foltz Trucking, in Detroit Lakes, Minn. The devices enable more efficient unloading with reduced downtime and damage, and improved operator safety.
 
“Most grain haulers deal with stubborn loads at some point,” commented driver Joe Virnig. “It can be the result of high humidity or a material that isn’t completely dried. And some products are just more difficult than others by nature.”
 
The new MT-FAST Hopper Trailer Vibrator is believed to be the first truck vibrator powered by the rig’s air supply. It can be quickly mounted in virtually any place on the trailer where material flow is reduced. Driven by the tractor’s onboard compressor, the unit requires less than 15 cubic feet per minute for effective operation, says its maker, which has applied for a patent
on the design.
 
It works better with larger amounts of air, which are available from a big compressor at one customer that makes pet food, said Frank Foltz, president of the family-owned fleet. Otherwise he likes the device, which weighs under 10 pounds and can be easily handled and placed where it’s needed on a trailer.

Vacuum-induced suction attaches the vibrator directly where it’s needed to break up a material jam. Pneumatic hammering dislodges stubborn grains but does not harm a hopper’s thin walls.
Vacuum-induced suction attaches the vibrator directly where it’s needed to break up a material jam. Pneumatic hammering dislodges stubborn grains but does not harm a hopper’s thin walls.

The fleet has 400 hopper-bottom trailers, most of them made by Wilson, and operates throughout the USA. Its 125 tractors are Volvo VNL sleeper-cabs.
 
“Existing truck vibrators haven’t been very successful on the type of hopper trailers used in the grain industry,” said Martin Vibration System’s Mike Lindbeck. “Most of those units are designed for dump trucks and heavy-walled trailers, and they could damage the thin walls of the bottom hoppers.
 
“They’re also engineered to fit into a permanently-installed mounting bracket, so drivers are limited to one location. If that location isn’t delivering the desired results, the driver has no options to move the vibrator to another spot.”
 
With the MT-FAST Vibration System, drivers can select the location that best suits the load, whether it’s corn meal, dry distillers grain (called DDG in the business), gluten pellets or other materials.
 
The unit can be positioned at corners, valleys or other problem areas where material flow tends to stall. And because it can be affixed directly to the hopper wall, energy is transferred more efficiently than with a permanently-mounted vibrator on a bracket.
 

ADVERTISEMENT

Foltz runs 125 Volvo VNL sleeper-cab tractors and 400 Wilson 41-foot hopper-bottom grain trailers. They empty quicker with the Martin portable vibrator.
Foltz runs 125 Volvo VNL sleeper-cab tractors and 400 Wilson 41-foot hopper-bottom grain trailers. They empty quicker with the Martin portable vibrator.

Virnig said that he’s seen a number of hopper vibrators over his years hauling grain, but had never seriously considered one until he had a load of DDG one hot afternoon that just wouldn’t budge.
 
“We did everything we could think of, and our dispatcher eventually had to send help,” he said.  “It ended up being a 6-hour delivery.”
 
When he got home that night, Virnig did some online research and found that MVS offered a line of vacuum-mounted vibrators. He contacted the company and learned that a design was just coming out of R&D for precisely this type of application.
 
“We tested the unit, and Martin made a few tweaks to the original design,” Virnig recalled.  “The vacuum mount is great, because it delivers the vibration directly to the hopper wall, so we don’t need a large, powerful model that beats up the trailer and can loosen rivets.”
 
The new MVS vibrator is a non-impacting linear design to help prevent trailer damage, yet it delivers 200 pounds of force to move materials effectively.  The low-frequency, high-amplitude energy is well suited to large particle sizes and low density characterized by grain, meal and other agricultural products.  All models are explosion-proof and wash-down-safe.
 
The device has adjustable amplitude, while the frequency is factory set for best results, Lindbeck said.  The mount has a venturi valve that creates a vacuum suction which holds the unit in place.
 
“This design is engineered to help truckers overcome flow problems that can be caused by materials with high moisture content or a high entanglement factor,” Lindbeck said.  “It helps break up settled loads that bridge over the trap, as well as build-up that leads to ratholing.”
 
Virnig said that his vibrator-equipped rig now empties faster and more thoroughly, typically without operator intervention.  “It’s really helped our unloading, especially with the more difficult loads.  It cuts down unproductive time, and I don’t need to get under the trap to help get the flow going.
 
“We’ve been using it for about a year now, and it’s proven to be a significant advantage.”
 
Martin Vibration Systems, in Marine City, Mich., makes pneumatic and electrical vibrators, compaction tables, feeders, hoppers and other material handling products in the food, chemical, pharmaceutical and foundry industries. More information is at www.shake-it.com or by calling 800-474-4538.


Comment On This Story

Name:  
Email: (Email will not be displayed.)  
Comment: (Maximum 2000 characters)  
Leave this field empty:
* Please note that every comment is moderated.

Author Bio

Tom Berg

Senior Editor

Journalist since 1965, truck writer and editor since 1978. CDL-qualified; conducts road tests on new heavy-, medium- and light-duty tractors and trucks. Specializes in vocational and hybrid vehicles.

Sponsored by

Newsletter

We offer e-newsletters that deliver targeted news and information for the entire fleet industry.



GotQuestions?

LUBRICANTS

The expert, Mark Betner from Citgo will answer your questions
Ask a question

Sponsored by

Magazine