IBT Tulsa Partners with KWS to Save Port of Catoosa Conveying Operations [Case Study]

IBT Tulsa Partners with KWS to Save Port of Catoosa Conveying Operations [Case Study]

Did you know that Tulsa’s Port of Catoosa is McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System’s (MKARNS) largest and most inland port? 

Since its opening in 1971, over 82 million tons of agricultural products, fertilizer and industrial cargo have moved through the port in over 1000 barges each year. 

What you don’t always see behind the scenes of an operation of this magnitude, though, are all of the complicated moving parts and skilled professionals that keep it running smoothly.

Each day, thousands of trucks unload in the pits where screw conveyors then move the product to a high-capacity bucket elevator for storage. 

Tasked with moving millions of abrasive soybeans, wheat and milo bushels each year, the screw conveyors play a crucial role in this operation and must be built properly for longevity.

So, what happens when the screws begin to deteriorate, negatively impacting productivity over time? The customer trusted Darren Hollander, local IBT Tulsa Account Manager and his team to provide answers and solutions.

The Challenge: The old screws were suffering from premature wear, causing conveying efficiencies to rapidly decline, and the screws had begun to rub the bottom of the conveyor trough.

The Problem-Solving Process

Phase 1 – When the challenge was presented to local IBT Tulsa conveying experts, they turned to KWS Manufacturing and requested an on-site visit. Together, they were able to view and assess the situation first-hand in order to determine the best, most cost-effective solution.

The team’s inspection revealed several items that needed to be upgraded:

  • The skip-welded screws were no match for the abrasive nature of soybeans. 
  • The flighting was beginning to separate from the pipe making the outside diameter larger than the housing.
  • The cracks in the old flighting revealed the abrasion-resistant material had been pre-heated prior to forming, resulting in hardness being substantially reduced and shortening the life of the screw itself. 
  • The schedule of the pipe was observed to be too thin.
  • Lastly, the hangar bearings were failing and it was an extremely time-consuming process to replace them.

Phase 2 – Careful and concise measurements were taken in the field and maintenance personnel was able to provide valuable insight into their problem solving and operating procedures. 

Phase 3 – The team discussed remedies and developed an aggressive plan to upgrade equipment and provide long-term solutions for the customer.

The IBT x KWS Solution

By teaming up with KWS Manufacturing, visiting the site and listening to the personnel that works with the equipment each day, IBT and KWS were able to provide the customer with the following long-term solutions:

  • New 24-inch diameter screws were manufactured with longevity and service in mind. The new KWS screws are close-coupled and clocked, which means, when assembled, a continual helix is formed for the long conveyor. 
  • Gone are the cheaper, thinner skip welds, and pipe that is too thin. ½-inch thick, abrasion-resistant 400 material was welded onto both sides to a heavy-duty 5-inch schedule 80 pipe. 
  • Bolt pads were welded to the pipe at all bolt hole locations further strengthening the pipe and assembly. 
  • The larger pipe size also allowed for the elimination of a midstream hangar that was constantly having to be replaced. 
  • Lastly, a safety feature was added – an end lug was welded to the conveyor end feeding the elevator, preventing any possible chance of a flight being ripped off in the unlikely event that a foreign object enters the conveyor.

Not only did these measures dramatically increase operational efficiencies and extend the lifetime of these conveying systems, but they also resulted in another lifelong, trusted IBT customer. 

In everything we do, we put the customer first. Have questions about this study or need help solving your own problems? Connect with your local IBT branch.

About KWS Manufacturing Company

Founded in 1972, KWS Manufacturing Company, Ltd. has become a leader in the design and manufacture of bulk material handling conveying equipment. Our long-term partnership with KWS allows us to provide cost-effective bulk handling solutions to customers across many markets and industries.
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