Know Your Industrial Hopper: What to Consider Before Sourcing a Custom Metal Fabricator

When it comes to transferring and storing materials, there’s perhaps no piece of equipment more crucial than an industrial hopper. Hoppers are ideal for the materials that can’t be stored or transferred by conventional means, such as dry raw materials, resins, waste, and more.

While understanding the different types of industrial transfer and storage equipment available can help you choose the best industrial hopper for your application, there are other important considerations to vet before sourcing a bulk transfer project to a custom metal fabricator.

Industrial Storage Hoppers: A Brief Overview

Industrial hoppers are typically utilized for dry storage materials, such as ash and waste from wood-burning plants that need to be properly cooled before transfer, as well as storing ingredients, waste products (i.e. bones), or bulk foods. Storage hoppers can be built for both indoor and outdoor applications, and it’s possible to incorporate windows as well to assist workers in monitoring material storage levels.

Industrial hoppers typically come in two shapes — conical or cone/wedge. The shape of a conical hopper allows for a smoother flow as well as direct material feeding, while a wedge-shaped hopper includes a trough with a narrow slit and is ideal for applications that require the use of a conveyor.

Before Your Fabricate an Industrial Hopper

It’s an understatement to say that hoppers play a big role in a wide variety of industries with unique applications and storage requirements, making it critical to have an industrial hopper fabricated to exact specification. Failure to do so could jeopardize the health and safety of facility workers and lead to a lower quality end product. So, what should you consider before working with a custom metal fabricator to design and build your industrial hopper?

Design and Engineering

It should go without saying that not all metal fabricators share the same capabilities, so it’s important to source a partner that is experienced in custom builds and can advise on the right metal type for your application. This is especially crucial for regulatory compliance, such as those imposed by the FDA.

The ability to incorporate additional performance capabilities into your industrial hopper is an important consideration as well. For example, hoppers can be made to self dump, which makes loading and unloading materials more efficient. Additional design and engineering considerations that should be accounted for include moisture and temperature control, material discharge speed, and efficiency and mass flow versus funnel flow (or expanded flow).

A capable custom metal fabricator will also consider your facility specifications to ensure the equipment isn’t too heavy or bulky for your space. Bottom line: Before you source the construction of a customized hopper, make sure you’re working with a fabricator who is experienced and knowledgeable in designing to exact specification.

Intended Application

An experienced metal fabricator should also know dry materials and how they perform in various types of hoppers. Communicating exactly what the intended purpose of your industrial hopper is should lead to feedback from your fabricator on the best approach.

For example, if you’re using a hopper to store food waste like chicken bones, there are quality control and safety standards that will dictate which material type and additional features a fabricator recommends. A capable fabrication partner will take into account these various factors — such as moisture levels, temperature, age of material, and the presence of other materials like oil — during the early stages of the design process.

Finishing Capabilities

As a final consideration, your fabrication partner should have finishing capabilities in-house, as an appropriate protective finish is critical for protecting your industrial hopper from harsh facility conditions.

For hoppers intended to be stored outdoors, coatings can serve as an extra layer of protection against the elements. Painting may also be performed to color coat your hopper according to facility equipment and layout.

We Design and Build Quality Industrial Hoppers to Specification

Drawing on decades of custom metal fabrication experience, Southern Metal Fabricators will work closely with you to identify storage requirements, unique performance features, and any finishing requirements to design your hopper to exact specification.

We construct each hopper unit using heavy-duty equipment, such as large-bed laser and plasma cutters, that can manage thick carbon steel and stainless plate. We also have in-house finishing capabilities to incorporate any required protective coating before completing the final assembly for transport.

If you’re ready to discuss the custom fabrication of industrial hoppers that meet or exceed your specific requirements, give us a chance to say, “Yes, we can do that!” by contacting us today.