A small buying guide – What to consider when choosing an industrial dryer?
The investment in an industrial conveyor dryer often leads to the question which aspects are to be considered when buying such a machine. In this article, I would like to explain what you should look out for when you think of such an investment.
Industrial drying equipment is the basis of every professional printing facility – no matter if textiles, glass or other industrial applications. Without a dryer the colours never reach the necessary brilliance; without a suitable, secure solution further processing is impossible.
Here quality and efficiency are crucial. So, the dryer is not simply the “rear light” of production, in fact it is an essential part of the printing process. Basically it is all about output, quality of production and fail-safe durability.
The quality of the industrial dryer is in the detail
First of all you need to know that all conveyor dryers on the market work based on the same principal and are constructed fundamentally in the same way: inlet, heating chamber and outlet. From that you cannot define differences in quality. But it gets interesting when we talk about quality of drying results. That is when you sort the wheat from the chaff. So, what makes a good dryer?
The stable and even temperature within the heating chamber is in focus. No matter where the goods are on the belt, a stable drying temperature is requested. Low-budget machines often have problems with this, which negatively effects the drying process. A well-engineered construction assures the required quality, high air volume and stable/even temperature throughout the whole heating zone.
Always remember: Trust, but verify! You could for example check for this quality features by testing before you buy a machine. A trust worthy manufacturer will not refuse.
How flexible should the dryer be?
While the belt width of your dryer is mainly depending on the size of your goods, the length of the heating chamber is depending on the output requested and the ink system you use. Check carefully what suits your needs. High quality drying systems have a compact heating zone and therefore save space in your facility.
Abb. 1 – Indzustrietrockner mit einem Doppelband, getgenläufig steuerbar
When we talk about industrial drying solutions often you can choose between a single belt and a split belt. The single belt provides the opportunity to put several different pieces next to each other, depending on their size, and therefore increase your output rates. A split belt is useful if you are processing different types of goods in one dryer, e. g. light and dark t-shirts. The light shirts generally need less time to cure, so this belt can be set to a faster speed.
If there is the possibility to change the running direction of the belts, you could use your machine even more flexible. Example: You could place a pre-treatment machine on one end of the dryer and cure the pre-treated pieces on the first belt.
On the other end of the dryer, you place your DTG-machine and apply the actual print and cure it on the second belt running in the opposite direction. This concept saves space and increases the flexibility.
But even more is possible! Flexibility is also provided by a modular construction, with which you can adjust, depending on the application, the length of the heating chamber and the belt speed in the way necessary for the certain application. From one module to several everything is possible.
Also the use of additional components like cooling bridges over the outlet, passive and active cooling modules and heat recovery systems should be checked before buying. Good manufacturers provide the full range of possible solutions for every application.
So far we talked about quality, now let us have a look at costs. Beside the initial costs for purchasing the machine itself, the running costs are also an essential factor. What should you look for?
Most of all, energy costs! – meaning: costs for actually using the dyer. Basically here it is important for comparison of machines with the same performance: the lower the costs the better. High quality dryers use gas fuelling systems with high-end components, which assure an efficient use of energy without losses.
But that is not all! Also the efficiency of how the dryer processes this energy is important. A good insulation speaks well for quality as it ensures the heat stays where it is needed – inside the dryer. The lower the heat loss, the more cost effective the machine. And that it helps saving our environment, is a very positive side-effect.
Operation and maintenance
Only industrial dryers that are constantly running for production are cost effective for their owners. Therefore the expenses for maintenance should be as low as possible. In order to keep costs low and make maintaining the dryer as comfortable as possible, you should check the access to the dryers’ different sections for cleaning and repairing.
Modern dryers are accessible through spring supported hoods, which allow fast and easy access to the interiors of the dryer. Then the dryer is ready to produce again in no time.
If repair service should be necessary, the manufacturer show its qualities by reaction time to your request and the availability of spare parts.
But also instinctive controlling is important. An operator cannot waste time by adapting to complicated control panels and systems. Operating a good dryer needs to be fast, comfortable and self-explaining. Furthermore the possibility for creating and saving recipes for standard procedures should be given.
Abb. 2 – Haubenöffnung des Industrietrockners mit Gasdruckfeder-Unterstützung für schnellen Wartungszugriff
Abb. 3- Industrietrockner mit Smart Control Steuerung
Not to forget you should ask yourself if your future dryer is “intelligent” in the meaning of communicating with other software as an aspect of digitisation of production. If yes, you should prefer a smart control to the classic hardware control systems.For example, the retrieval of the data for an operational data acquisition (BDE) should be mentioned here. This increases the transparency of your production processes.
If yes, you should prefer a Smart Control to the classic hardware control systems.
Conclusion – This is what you should consider when buying an industrial dryer
A lot of things are to be taken into account if you want to do it right. Here is a short summary to make it easier for you. Look for the following things:
- Stable and even temperature inside the heating chamber
- Good insulation, low energy loss
- Fast and easy access to inner sections of the dryer for cleaning and maintenance
- Single belt or split belt, depending on application
- Quick reaction of manufacturer for service and spare parts
- Possibility of network connection (digitisation)