What is a Pneumatic Tube System & How do They Work?

Pneumatic Tube Systems are not novel to the 21st century, the history of pneumatic transportation dates back to the late 1700’s. Over the last century, the world has become increasingly interconnected. From letters to emails and telephones to smartphones, technology has evolved at a rapid rate. Prior to the breakthrough technological advances of the 20th and 21st century, communication looked very different with the lack of road infrastructure, individuals relied on marine vessels to spread information and transport goods.

Today, information can be spread from any location in a matter of seconds. The Pneumatic Tube System was a cutting-edge development in communication and transportation. While these systems have changed and altered with technological advances, pneumatic tube systems still play a crucial role within society.

How do they work?

Put simply, the systems architecture, uses pressurised air to propel cylindrical carriers through networks of tubes. The air compressor pumps, frequently described as ‘blowers’ uses both vacuum and air pressure to transport sealed products; this means that products can be moved through transport tubes in every direction. A control centre is used to oversee system function; operating blower units and transfer units to ensure products are guided to the correct location.

The components of pneumatic tube systems:

Pneumatic Tube Carriers

pneumatic tube carriers

The term carrier refers to the cylindrical containers used to ‘carry’ goods from point A to point B. Coming in a diverse range of sizes, carriers can fit a wide selection of packages and objects. These containers can be either plastic or metal dependant on user preference and needs. Plastic is often the preferable choice, being clean and durable, whilst also exhibiting static reducing qualities. Leak-proof and lockable carriers fitted with RFID chips are ideal options for hospitals, offering safe and secure transport for sensitive content. Carriers are often fitted with plastic bumpers and fabric bands to help protect the capsules content during its journey.

Pneumatic Tube Stations

pneumatic tube stations

Pneumatic tube stations refer to the location where carriers are sent or received. The large range of pneumatic tube stations available allow users to select the most appropriate station based on their needs. Stations come in a range of sizes and designs. Standard design includes a loading port and an interface panel. With users keen to improve efficiency, the latest designs have features such as auto unloading. Accessories can also be added to ensure safe and secure transport including receiving baskets, carrier storage and arrival indicators.

Pneumatic Tube Diverters

Diverters are extremely important to Pneumatic Tube Systems, allowing packages to turn corners and/or change directions within the tube network. Today, users often require complex systems, which incorporate a larger number of send and receive stations and thus paths. Located at zone connections, a diverter regulates air flow to ensure that carriers are transported along the correct and most direct path. Once installed diverters can be operated remotely.

Pneumatic Tubes Blowers

The blower is the driving force behind pneumatic tube systems, providing the system with its air supply. ‘Blower’ is used to describe the fans that create the vacuum and air pressure within the transport tubes, causing the carriers to move. These fans create a difference in air density behind and in front of the canister. This difference in air pressure enables the carrier to be pushed or pulled along the tube. These fans are responsible for propelling containers through the system at speeds of 25 feet per second.

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