How Pneumatic Tubes Work

Pneumatic tube systems work with cylindrical containers (called carriers) propelled through a single tube line or network of tube lines with positive air pressure or vacuum. They are used for transporting items such as cash, pharmaceuticals, lab samples, production samples, documents and many other applications to either a single or multiple locations.

Pneumatic tube systems gained great prominence in the late 19th and early 20th century for businesses or administrations to efficiently transport small but urgent packages, such as mail or money, over relatively short distances within a building, or, at most, within a city. Today, pneumatic tube systems still remain of great use with improved reliability and lower life cycle costs due to developed technology in recent decades. Tube systems are greatly utilized in market applications like auto dealerships, distribution facilities, industrial plants, movie theaters and batch plants. Many large retailers use pneumatic tubes to transport cash or other documents from cashiers to the accounting office.

Systems can reach average speeds of 25 ft. per second, with some systems achieving speeds up to 33 ft. per second depending on the application. Some systems are computer-controlled, which allows for tracking and logging of any transaction. Remote maintenance diagnostics can be used to assist in pinpointing any errors within the system. System design allows carriers to travel with minimal vibration and reach destination with air cushioned soft delivery. This allows for the transport of delicate or fragile contents without breakage or disruption of sensitive materials, like lab samples or glass.