Lab Soil Sample Grinder – Bespoke Project
Automate the tough job of grinding soil samples for laboratory testing
Reduce operator strain injuries, operator error, repeatable process, improved throughput, safety.
Prior to testing soil samples, the sample must be ground into a consistent particle size. Traditionally Hill Labs completed this task by hand; the soil was worked through a mesh and sieve to break it up and sort out the large soil clumps. This process was very physical, dirty, inconsistent and prone to contamination. As the process is well suited to automation, Hill Labs approached Motion Design to develop a machine to solve their issues around soil grinding.
The primary objective of the Soil Grinder machine is to effectively grind and prepare soil samples prior to testing. Additional requirements of the machine are dust extraction, waste bucket and user-friendly soil dispensing.
The soil grinding is achieved by rotating a triangle shaped blade in a removable mesh cone dish. Once the soil is ground to the specified amount it can pass through the mesh (acting like a sieve) and fall into the dispensing tray. Different sized mesh can be used depending on the required coarseness of the sample. This adjustment capability allows this machine to grind many types of soil samples, including both wet and dry samples. At completion of the grinding process the grinding blade automatically lifts out of the mesh cone so it can be removed and any remaining soil can be disposed of. A jar can be attached to the dispensing tray so once the grinding is finished the dispensing tray rotates to funnel all the ground soil samples into the jar. The operator is only required to refill the mesh cone, attach an empty jar to the dispensing tray and press go; a single operator can control multiple machines which has made the soil grinding process much less reliant on labour.
Safety of the grinding process is also superior with the Soil Grinder machine. A perspex enclosure restricts any access to the moving parts during the grinding and dispensing cycle. This enclosure also acts as a dust extraction system. The enclosure lifts up to allow the operator to load the machine without any restrictions.
2 months of prototyping and testing
3 months to design, build, test and install
Team members contributed:
Paul, Gary, previous employees