Drippers Marching On


What a challenge! How to keep micro-drip irrigation drippers all lined-up perfectly and in pace with our high extrusion line speeds? Maintaining an uninterrupted continuous flow of drippers is critical when offering insertion rates as high as 2000 drippers per minute. The key is to buy time by massively accumulating drippers ready for insertion. Plus, that precious time can be put to good use to condition drippers and assuring a consistent weld quality.

Selecting from random

Drippers are injection molded parts that are packed in bags and small cardboard boxes. They are delivered in bulk to the line operator, who dumps them pell‑mell into a feeder hopper at the up-stream end of the extrusion line. During production, the randomly positioned drippers are brought into motion and get selected only when oriented correctly.

The statistics are favorable in keeping up with the pace. But sometimes Murphy's Law plays its hand, where a series of drippers are slow to pass selection. The risk of having an interrupted dripper supply must be compensated before reaching the extrusion head otherwise scrap is produced (micro drip lateral pipes without drippers). The solution is to rely on already sorted and accumulated drippers, thus gaining time to close the dripper supply gap.

Precious time counted in drippers

Drippers can be accumulated on a linear or spiral track that is placed between the dripper feeder and the insertion system. Both designs offer accumulation capacity but with the tradeoff of an increased equipment footprint on the shop floor. Factory space is a luxury that is rarely afforded. Moreover, the time gained with such methods is often insufficient for high production speeds resulting in a line speed compromise.

Another concern is a depleted dripper supply or an obstacle like a malformed dripper stopping the flow. Here, the operator must act fast and time is of the essence. Dripper feeding has to be reestablished quickly before generating scrap. A sufficient delay for an operator intervention is required and so a massive amount of sorted drippers must be made ready beforehand.

More than a minute's worth of possibilities

Our patent pending dripper accumulator is an innovative answer to both gap and stoppage problems on a high speed line. By first allowing for a sufficient delay, we sized our new machine accordingly. Its high capacity leaves more than a full minute to act when operating at the industry's top insertion rates and at full line speeds. The countdown begins when the operator is first warned of the anomaly, which is done immediately through our supervision system.

Weld quality as a bonus

The gain in accumulation capacity has another clear advantage for certain constructions such as thin wall pipes, where weld quality is decisive. We offer the option of preheating accumulated drippers in order to ensure optimal adherence of the drippers to the inner wall of the pipe. With the controlled residence time in the accumulator, there is only a limited risk of moving cold drippers to the extrusion head even when experiencing the occasional gap occurrence.

Our high capacity accumulator is available on our high output PIL 032FT///Explore micro-drip irrigation line for laterals with flat drippers. When so equipped, you'll be well positioned among the leading producers of high performance micro-drip irrigation pipes.

Ernst Geider
Technical Sales Director, Micro-Drip Irrigation Solutions

Topics: Performance solutions, Product quality, Production Capacity, Novelties & Launches, Innovation

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