Over the course of nearly a century, Prater Industries has offered solutions that have focused on the future. With this long history of innovation in the bulk material handling sector, Prater not only seeks to meet its customers’ needs but also helps them deal with changing consumer preferences and government regulations. Prater offers cutting-edge material processing equipment for all manner of material processing applications.
Prater Industries Material Processing Equipment
Prater Industries designs and manufactures innovative and extremely reliable material processing equipment and systems for companies of all sizes. These material handling solutions include particle size enlargement, reduction and separation, along with machinery used for feeding products. The company can help customers maintain Prater machinery while maximizing the machinery’s efficiency with customized solutions.
- Air classifiers utilize centrifugal force in conjunction with particles’ drag force to classify material into narrow size distributions via numerous variations in feeding products into the processing system.
- Air classifying mills that reach ultrafine particle reduction via internal air classification in a closed circuit, dual-stage grinding chamber designed for material that’s difficult to grind and products that require extremely narrow particle distributions.
- Fine grinders work well for reducing heat-sensitive, dry materials so they flow freely, with precision tolerances that help achieve narrow particle distributions.
- Hammer mills like Prater’s full-screen hammer mill are used for high-capacity bakery finishing, reworking and other applications, along with the Mega Mill hammer mill designed for use with pneumatic systems.
- Lump breakers that break down dense or agglomerated material to improve material flow and assist with blending and drying processes downstream.
- Rotary airlock valves with various options, sizes and types for material feeding and safety solutions that work well for multiple applications.
- Rotary sifters for scalping and sifting operations that utilize centrifugal force to make them capable of throughputs well beyond those of conventional sifting equipment of similar size.
- Rotormills – often referred to as rotary or long gap mills – utilize turbulence to cause collisions between particles, along with the mill’s grinding and milling capabilities within its grinding chamber.
- Rotordryers combine the grinding and milling of material as per the rotor mill, along with a drying system that allows it to work well with slurries and other high-moisture materials.
Designed to provide reliable service over many years, Prater makes its material processing equipment low maintenance yet provides easy access to internal components to make maintenance and cleaning less difficult.
Why Businesses & Engineers Prefer Prater
Prater Industries has consistently led the material processing sector with its innovations, while also continually improving its designs. Businesses and engineers additionally appreciate the integrity of Prater’s technical teams, especially the resilience shown when presented with a challenge, helping companies keep on the leading edge of material processing technologies. Highly trained and knowledgeable, Prater technical teams assist with onsite installations, preventive maintenance and troubleshooting any equipment issues when needed.
The company especially shines when providing tailored solutions for its customers’ processing issues. Prater’s technical team’s expertise helps businesses in agriculture, bulk material, chemical, feed, mineral, pharmaceutical, renewable energy and other processing industries that handle bulk material. Processing equipment and whole systems can additionally be tested in Prater’s testing laboratory. This allows processing companies to partner with the equipment manufacturer to develop material handling systems that produce products of the highest quality in the most efficient manner.
The durability and efficiency of Prater material processing equipment are renowned for its use in many industries and for countless applications, which is why so many material handling companies and their engineers choose Prater products. The robust designs of Prater machinery augment its reliability, resulting in lower maintenance and repair costs.
Prater Industries is also well-known as a leader in workplace safety. In fact, a 2021 health and safety bulletin on preventing injuries that can lead to amputation put out by the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) features a Prater rotary airlock valve. As any business knows, preventing on-the-job injuries is much more preferable than dealing with the high costs associated with industrial accidents.
Choosing the Right Material Processing Equipment
It’s important for businesses to consider a number of factors when first selecting material processing equipment. Basic elements would include cost, ease of use, energy efficiency and the likely lifespan of the machinery. But there are various other dynamics that should be considered as well, such as the property of the materials being processed and the desired end product.
- Customization: Sometimes a piece of machinery must be customized to better perform an application; manufacturers like Prater will customize their material processing equipment to suit a customer’s needs.
- Function: The purpose the machinery serves must be considered, and it’s integral to understand how a piece of equipment fits into the overall material handling system.
- Maintenance: The ease at which a machine can be cleaned and maintained should be a consideration, as equipment that’s easier to disassemble will keep downtime minimal.
- Material properties: It’s imperative to understand the properties of a material when it’s being processed, as characteristics like brittleness, capacitance, flammability, hardness and tensile strength will affect the type of material processing equipment that should be used.
- Processing needs: The type of machine needed for an application will depend on what end result is desired, along with processing speed, throughput and other aspects of material handling.
- Space: The available floorspace in which equipment must fit will naturally affect the type of material processing solution chosen, which often must be ascribed to a certain height, length, weight and width.
- Worker safety: Safer material handling equipment not only lowers the chance of injury to employees but also limits liability to prevent accidents that can lead to costly legal action.
For customers needing to choose the best material processing equipment for their application, Prater has an equipment selection tool. This can then be followed up by engaging with one of Prater’s knowledgeable technical team members.
Best Practices for Maximizing Efficiency
To optimize efficiency, there are certain protocols that need to be followed so as to maximize the facility’s productivity. When this involves material processing, equipment is a core component that affects the finished product’s quality. For this reason, it’s imperative to follow best practices to ensure processing machinery works optimally. This includes looking at reducing operational costs by maximizing the energy efficiency of machinery within a material handling system, along with attention to safety, material flow and ease of maintenance.
- Cleaning: Regardless of the material, processing equipment should be cleaned regularly to remove contaminants like dirt, dust or product residue that could result in an obstruction, which can in turn affect efficiency and potentially lead to downtime.
- Feeding and loading: Though considered part of operating the machine, it’s important to avoid either underloading or overloading equipment so that it maintains a consistent flow of material; processing equipment should always have sufficient capacity for the application.
- Lubrication: Most mechanical equipment requires lubricants to keep it running smoothly; it’s important to adhere to a manufacturer’s recommendations when it comes to lubricating material processing equipment, as this reduces friction that minimizes wear while extending the machine’s lifespan.
- Material storage: Depending on the application, raw materials waiting to be processed should generally be stored as close as possible to the initial feeding point to ensure proper feeding into and through the system.
- Positioning equipment: Any system should be carefully designed to maximize the effectiveness of the operation, which in turn optimizes the flow of material; processing equipment generally should be positioned to minimize the distance material must travel and also reduce the need to reprocess product.
- Routine inspections: It’s important to regularly examine material handling machinery and repair any issues that might make equipment malfunction as a result of wear or other damage.
- Screening: While cleaning screens regularly is necessary for most applications, it’s also important to utilize the best screening equipment for the job to ensure undersized materials and contaminants don’t get sent downstream, which can then negatively affect other parts of the material handling system.
- Suppressing dust: Dust is a common issue that leads to increased plant hygiene costs; equipment for such applications should include measures for controlling dust, such as dust collection systems and water sprayers, as airborne dust can lead to a conflagration or explosion.
- Training: Anyone operating or maintaining a machine should understand how it works in order to augment the system’s overall efficiency, lower the risk of injury and thwart damage that might occur due to inappropriate use.
With any material processing equipment or system, it’s important to schedule preventive maintenance inspections, along with repairs, servicing and replacement of parts when needed. By being proactive with maintenance, equipment issues can be dealt with before they become major problems leading to breakdown and resulting downtime. To properly maintain any material processing equipment, documentation is also crucial. By tracking inspections, repairs, part replacements and servicing, manufacturers will have valuable information that can be used for troubleshooting future mechanical issues.
Maintenance Tips & Cost-Saving Strategies
Just like any other industrial equipment, Prater equipment should be properly maintained to ensure it performs optimally. This includes inspecting and verifying safety features, along with ensuring satisfactory performance of all material processing equipment. Depending on the application and materials being processed, it’s advisable to inspect such equipment annually or semi-annually. Prater additionally offers preventive maintenance plans that involve inspections by specially-trained technicians to test various aspects of the machinery’s performance.
- Align any belts and pulleys to ensure proper tension.
- Assess the machine’s support structure to ensure it’s mounted securely.
- Check the motor to ensure it’s well-balanced and properly secured.
- Confirm air flows are optimal for pneumatic systems.
- Disassemble bearing housings to allow inspection of the rotor shaft.
- Examine the blade retaining rings and bore dimensions for rotors.
- Inspect rotor blades and replace when needed.
- Replace any bearings when necessary.
- Swap out grinding jaws and screens when needed after checking screen frame assemblies.
- Use precision equipment to balance rotor periodically.
- Validate feed rates for equipment that are appropriate for machinery.
- Verify machine operating temperatures are within proper parameters.
In addition to these tips, anyone working with Prater machinery should be taught how to properly inspect and maintain it, while also keeping this training current. But in addition to training, equipment operators should also be encouraged to think strategically, especially on ways in which to optimize production. It’s important to analyze any material handling system for its strengths and weaknesses in order to determine how it can be improved. Creative solutions often entail thinking critically about ways in which to streamline processes within a material handling system. Many times, a good strategy for getting the most out of Prater equipment is just to call one of our experts to point you in the right direction.
Case Study: Prater Fine Grinder Solution for Pet Food Industry
Among the documentation and literature included on the company’s website are several case studies involving real-world situations in which Prater’s technical teams created innovative solutions. A subject of one of these case studies encompasses an experience in which one of the largest pet food producers in the US retail market required a solution for an issue it was having with Prater’s M-series fine grinder.
The customer used the fine grinder to break down the material into particles as small as 200 mesh (75 microns) within an extremely tight particle size distribution. The fine grinder’s jaws are the stationary grinding surfaces against, which particles are ground against the rotor’s blades and then discharged once properly sized. It was determined that changes in the flow system and raw materials being used were likely the cause of this quicker deterioration of the affected component, as the abrasive product tends to shorten jaw life.
To increase the life of the fine grinder’s milling jaws, the pet food manufacturer asked the company for help. Prater’s engineers determined the jaws needed to be made from stronger materials, though they needed to choose a material hard enough to extend jaw lifespan yet machinable to the same tight tolerances. This new material also needed to not warp. By replacing the jaw material, Prater’s engineers were able to redesign the fine grinder to maintain tolerances while also increasing the jaw lifespan to a full four months. This made the facility more efficient, lowering the cost of jaw replacement by 17 percent, and resulting in an uptick in profits and productivity.