Silos, as well as hoppers and bins, need to provide a dependable flow of material if they are to remain effective and prevent the loss of material. Unfortunately, material blockages are all too common, and they need to be addressed as soon as possible in order to avoid further problems and make the current blockage easier to fix.

Air cannons provide a great way to ensure a good flow of materials. They release timed bursts of compressed air in order to break up any material that accumulates and keep the inside walls of storage structures as clean as possible.

Here are just three of the most common silo material blockages that can be addressed using an industrial air cannon.

1. Ratholing

Unlike many other types of blockage, ratholing does not completely prevent material from getting through a silo, but it can still present a major problem. Essentially, ratholing occurs when excess material is allowed to build up on the walls. Over time, so much excess material will accumulate that there is only a very restricted passageway through which materials can flow. That narrow passageway explains the term 'ratholing'. While material can still move through a ratholed silo, much of it will be wasted as it accumulates against the sides. Additionally, ratholing decreases the storage capacity of a silo and can place additional strain on the structure itself.

2. Caking

Ratholing occurs when excess material accumulates roughly evenly around the inner walls of a silo. In contrast, caking happens when large lumps of material accumulate in random spots. This can lead to full blockages over time and will disrupt the flow of material in any case. It can also result in an asymmetrical flow of materials, which can be dangerous and increase strain on other parts. Caking can occur anywhere within a silo, and it can be caused by anything from having too much moisture in your material to not taking care of preventative maintenance.

3. Arching/Bridging

Arching (sometimes known as bridging) will cause a complete blockage, so it's one of the more serious issues you can face. It happens when material sticks together and clings to the interior of a silo with more force than is imparted to the material coming in from above. The material will arch towards the opening, but it won't actually come out. Aside from completely disrupting the flow of material, this type of blockage can cause serious long-term damage due to the extreme strain it tends to place on silo walls.

For more information on air cannons, contact a company near you.