Nothing beats the use of a bulk material feeder when it comes to better regulation of bulk material installation. By providing a mobile alternative to the stationary methods of installation, automatic material feeders are taking center stage.

Therefore, it is important to learn how to select only the best material for your heavy-duty processes. Several industries have adopted this equipment and for good reasons too. Its mobile feature has made it a mainstay in several industries involved in bulk material handlings. So, gear up and put your reading glasses on as we drive you through the working processes, applications, and problems associated with these feeders.

What Is The Material Feeder?

Before diving straight into picking the best, you should first learn about the definition and working process. An automatic feeder is regarded as one of the core aspects of any bulk material handling system. It is the equipment used to move raw materials or finished products from one location to another.

What’s so good about this feeder unit is its simplicity. It consists of a wide apron belt design that permits a very low loading height. This comes in handy when trucks need to discharge directly into the entry section of the feeder unit.

What comes next is a series of processes that lead to the successful loading and discharge of bulk material. So, how does the feeder unit work? Below is your answer:

  • As established earlier, the wide apron design allows for low loading height of the bulk material.
  • Next comes the discharging of the material directly into the entry section of the feeder unit.
  • Then, the material gets drawn directly into the apron belt of the unit. The function of this belt is to move the material forward.
  • This material gets moved to the following conveyor system to continue the process.
  • Note that the material can either be moved to the conveyor system or stored within the unit.
  • Finally, just like any other cycle, the feeder is ready for the next batch of material.

As simple as this unit is to operate, it has very useful benefits that cannot be overemphasized. Below are some of them:

  • It is suitable for handling bulk materials that require front-end loaders.
  • It can be applied in cases of dry, dusty, heavy, and even humid conditions. It is also a great tool for cohesive bulk materials.
  • The operation is flexible due to the mobile nature of the feeder.
  • It also minimizes the dust content. This is because the loading is done at a low height, and the volume is also regulated.

Finally, no hopper is needed, and the feeder can be applied in various manners based on the type used.

Application Scope of Material Feeder

Different types of feeders are available for different means of regulating the flow of bulk material in a process system. Knowing the different types, their mechanisms, and their uses is beneficial when picking the best for your industrial needs.

The different types of feeders include:

  • Wobbler feeders
  • Apron feeders
  • Belt feeders
  • Plate feeders

So let’s get started.

Wobbler Feeders

These feeders contain a set of rotating elliptical bars on the deck. These are useful for separating sticky materials, most especially clay, from lumps. This separated clay now passes through the openings between the bars.

Some of the benefits of using wobbler feeders are:

  • Can accept small and medium capacities.
  • Useful for sorting before crushing.
  • Best choice for sticky materials.
  • The resulting feed rates are usually uniform.

Apron Feeders

Apron feeders contain cast manganese pans and a dozer-style chain. These two combine to provide a gauged flow of material. These feeders are more generally applied. Materials including aggregates, minerals, recycled materials, can be handled in both small and large quantities.

The benefits include:

  • High on investment returns.
  • They can run on a 24/7 basis.
  • Low maintenance requirements for longer life spans.

Belt Feeders

When it comes to the application of finer materials, belt feeders are your go-to feeder unit. Its main feature is a flat belt supported by closely spaced idlers and driven by a system of pulleys.


  • The best option for small-sized materials.
  • Mostly applied in secondary applications.

Plate Feeders

These are also known as reciprocating feeders. They feature a connecting rod that produces the reciprocating motion needed to move the material to be discharged.

This motion is supported by hydraulic cylinders. The benefits include:

  • Can be used for either small or large quantities of materials
  • Also ideal for cyclic feed rates
  • Low maintenance is needed for a long-lasting feeder unit

Having a lot of options makes a feeder even more beneficial. This means there’s a type of feeder for any type of material handling you come across. But bulk material feeders are not without flaws. Here are some flaws to take note of when picking one.

What Are The Common Problems When Using The Material Feeder?

1. Poor Material Flow

This is perhaps the most common problem with feeders. It happens in all types of feeder units and can be caused by various factors.

One major cause is the bridging of the materials. This causes complete blockage of the channel. It can also result from the deposition of material at the side of the feeder unit channel. This leads to erratic material flow. Other problems with material feeders include material segregation as a result of different particle sizes and densities. This can affect the uniformity, rate of flow, and even the package weights.

Another persistent issue with feeders is the contamination of materials. This happens when the feeders are not properly cleaned after every use. The presence of stagnant material can lead to the contamination of any new material loaded into the bulk material feeder.


The introduction of the use of a material feeder into the industrial sector has been nothing short of a revolution. The simple loading, discharging, and conveying of materials has made heavy and bulk material handling easier for industries such as the cement industry, steel, metallurgy, power stations, as well as quarries, ports, and terminals.

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