How Long Do Flexible Connectors Last?

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It's a common question - and there isn't an easy answer. 

The quality of materials used, and the fastening system will make a significant difference to the life of a connector in most applications.  There are also many other important factors like heat, movement and abrasion.

While no one can guarantee how long a flexible connector will last, by correctly installing a quality designed and manufactured product like BFM® fitting, you will have a more durable and effective flexible connector solution. 

Here we look at the key factors you need to consider when purchasing flexible connectors for your process lines.


What Determines Connector Life?

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Temperature, movement and product abrasion are significant influences when it comes to determining the life of a connector, but there are others that need to be considered:

Factors That Affect The Connector Life

The factors that affect the life of a connector are so varied that every application needs to be looked at individually.  When installing a BFM® fitting system, there are simple ways to minimise the effect of each on your connector to get the best long-term performance.

Find out how to

Minimize Downtime, Maximize Productivity and Reduce Overall Costs

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  • Operating Temperature
  • Chemical Exposure
  • Connector Length
  • Movement
  • Abrasion from Product Flow
  • Duration of Process Operations
  • Positive/Negative Pressure
Operating Temperature

Temperature Extremes Create Stress

Very hot or very cold operating temperatures naturally place extra stress on your equipment, and in particular, your flexible connections.

The closer the temperature is to the connector’s operating limits, the softer or more brittle the material will become. There is a wide range of flexible connector materials available depending on the specific application or operating conditions.

Ensure an appropriate connector material is selected for the intended operating temperature to avoid degradation and potential failure.

Teflex NP Black, for example, is a tightly woven pure PTFE connector material that can handle operating temperatures as high as 300ºC / 572ºF.

Each BFM® fitting product has an optimal operating temperature range that can be found on the Product page.  

Chemical Exposure

Chemical Degradation - Check Your CIP Concentration Levels & Practices

Whether it’s the product itself or cleaning agents used during CIP (Clean In Place), certain chemicals can cause premature degradation of any flexible connector. It’s also important to ensure the correct concentration levels of cleaning agents used during a CIP for acid or caustic cleaning processes.

BFM® Acid and Caustic GuidelinesAny greater level does not provide an increased benefit in terms of cleaning the system; it is purely wasting chemicals. Excess levels will also adversely affect other system parts, such as seals and gaskets.

If connectors are left in place during CIP, they should always be removed after cleaning and any residue removed before start-up to avoid possible chemical build-up.

Connector Length

Too Long or Too Short Will Cause Wear

One of the most important factors in ensuring durability is having the right length connector installed for the space between the inlet/outlet feed, particularly when installing on a sifter or other moving equipment.

If the connector is too long for the gap, the areas where the material folds will be most prone to abrasion and eventual cracking. If the connector is installed too short, it can easily tear apart or tear off the equipment.

Learn more about measuring for the right connector length and other installation tips on our 'Installation Guides' page.



Larger The Throw, Bigger The Stress

Multiple BFM® connectors installed on a potato flour sifterThe extent of movement can have a big impact on connector life.  Sifters and sieves are one of the most challenging applications for this reason.

The larger the throw (movement) is in relation to the connector length, the more stress it will put on the connector.

Movement should be measured during operation and start-up/shutdown to account for the largest potential movement.

The maximum movement of a sifter shouldn’t exceed 20% of the total connector length to minimize these stresses.

Download the following guide for some tips on measuring movement:

Abrasion from Product Flow

Reducing Contact With Connector Walls Is Key

Tapered_Samller Outlet to Larger Inlet

When product comes into contact with the walls of the connector during operation, it will naturally cause wear, particularly if it is an abrasive product (such as coarse sugar, aggregates, etc).

Minimizing contact with the connector walls will increase the life of your connectors considerably.  There are several ways of achieving this - the most simple option is to use a smaller inlet pipe transitioning to a larger outlet pipe and connect these with a BFM® fitting tapered connector. 

You can also apply other flow-correction methods like those illustrated below to help increase the life of your connectors with abrasive product flow:

Flow correction - 3 images 600 x 300

Duration of Process Operations

Duration of Process Operations

The longer a process is operating, the more time it’s putting stress on its connectors.

Plants that operate 24 hours a day will naturally wear connectors faster than those that operate only 8 hours a day.

For movement like large vibration or oscillation on sifters, choose a quality material with no flex 'memory' that can withstand the demands placed on it by long-term constant operation.

BFM® stress-test our materials to ensure they'll last the distance, including constant movement on sifters and sieves.

Seeflex 040E, for example, is our most popular, durable flexible connector that gives visibility of your product flow and is successfully used in 24-hour operations worldwide. 

Positive/Negative Pressure

Constant or Cyclic, Pressure Takes Its Toll

Both positive and negative pressure of any kind tends to ‘stiffen’ the walls of a flexible connector, which increases wear.

BFM® connector with milk powder feeding into a hopperPositive pressure pushes the connector walls outwards, increasing stress on the connector itself, as well as increasing the chance of the product effectively being ‘blown’ out into the plant through the crevice between a clamped connector and pipe.

The BFM® fitting system design, however, comes into its own under pressure.


BFM® Seeflex 040E with VacuumNegative pressure (vacuum) in a system will reduce the likelihood of product leaking out into the plant through the connector joins; however, the ‘sucking’ action will tend to pull the walls of the connector inwards, causing creasing and stiffness with the potential for premature damage.

If the connector is long and the vacuum is strong enough, it will also close up the aperture of the connector, inhibiting product flow.


BFM with support rings installed at cyclone outlet


Anti-collapse or support rings can assist with reducing the effects of higher pressure on flexible connector walls - both positive and negative - in most instances..


Before BFM - Streamline Inventory

Getting Started with BFM® fittings

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Get in touch with one of our local Authorized BFM® fitting Distributors to help find the right solution for you. They will help work through what you want to achieve and how BFM® fitting can improve your plant.
Case Study

"BFM® connectors are lasting 10 times longer than the canvas ones we were using ."

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- British concrete product manufacturer

The canvas weigh hopper connectors at a leading British concrete products manufacturer absorbed moisture, making them prone to blockages.

This caused considerable lost productivity and poor weighing accuracy. To add to the problem, jubilee clips caused excessive dust leakage and made replacement extremely time consuming.



Before & After_Concrete UIK