Elevator buckets are containers for the collection and transport of powder or granular materials. They attach to belts on a conveyor system. Elevator buckets, or conveyor buckets as they are sometimes known, are usually bolted to a vertical conveyor belt and used to hold and lift the material. Often, they are used to transport coal, clay, concrete, fertilizers, stone, sand, foundry sand, and gravel. Elevator buckets are also used to move other abrasive or hot materials, and may be designed for either agricultural or industrial applications. Some elevator buckets are made of metals such as aluminum, cast iron or steel. Others are made of plastics such as nylon, polyethylene, or urethane.
There are many different types of elevator buckets, and variety of ways to categorize them. In addition to materials of construction, elevator buckets may be described as low-front, medium-front, or high-front. They may also be listed as shallow pattern, medium pattern, or medium deep pattern. Typically, shallow-pattern and medium-pattern elevator buckets are used to convey sticky materials such as clay at slow speeds, or to transport free-flowing materials such as sand at higher speeds. In addition to bucket type, products differ in terms of wear resistance, impact resistance, and maximum temperature; color and dimensions; bolt-hole patterns, and bucket venting.
Selecting elevator buckets requires an analysis of the material to convey, upstream and downstream equipment, and the elevator itself. When evaluating the material to convey, parameters such as density, moisture, particle size, and temperature should be considered. Since elevators differ by manufacturer, application and industry, there are a variety of elevator specifications to consider. These include head pulley diameter, shaft size, boot pulley diameter, take-up style, head shaft revolutions per minute (RPM), trunk size, and the distance from head to boot shaft. Feed direction, belt type, elevator capacity, width, and lagging should also be noted.
Some elevator buckets are designed specifically for agricultural or industrial applications. For example, cast nylon buckets are used in foundries, glass plants, mines, and other demanding environments. These conveyor buckets are corrosion-resistant, relatively low-maintenance, and designed for clean dumping. Because they are lightweight, they can help increase bearing and drive component life, reduce belt stretching, and reduce the amount of power required to operate bucket elevators.