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Latest developments in belt conveyor technology

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Latest developments in belt conveyor technology

May 16, 2023 nflg 0 Comments

Belt conveyor abstract

Bulk material transportation requirements have continued to press the belt conveyor industry to carry higher tonnages over longer distances and more diverse routes. In order keep up, significant technology advances have been required in the field of system design, analysis and numerical simulation.

The application of traditional components in non-traditional applications requiring horizontal curves and intermediate drives have changed and expanded belt conveyor possibilities. Examples of complex conveying applications along with the numerical tools required to insure reliability and availability will be reviewed.

Belt conveyor abstract

Although the title of this presentation indicates “new” developments in belt conveyor technology will be presented, most of the ideas and methods offered here have been around for some time. We doubt any single piece of equipment or idea presented will be “new” to many of you. What is “new” are the significant and complex systems being built with mostly mature components.

What is also “new” are the system design tools and methods used to put these components together into unique conveyance systems designed to solve ever expanding bulk material handling needs. And what is also “new” is the increasing ability to produce accurate computer simulations of system performance prior to the first system test (commissioning).

Energy Efficiency

Minimizing overall power consumption is a critical aspect of any project and belt conveyors are no different. Although belt conveyors have always been an efficient means of transporting large tonnages as compared to other transport methods, there are still various methods to reduce power requirements on overland conveyors. The main resistances of a belt conveyor are made up of:

• Idler Resistance
• Rubber indentation due to idler support
• Material/Belt flexure due to sag being idlers
• Alignment

These resistances plus miscellaneous secondary resistances and forces to over come gravity (lift) make up the required power to move the material.

As such, the main focus of this presentation will be the latest developments in complex system design essential to properly engineer and optimize today’s long distance conveyance requirements.

In a typical in-plant conveyor of 400m length, power might be broken into its components as per Figure 1 with lift making up the largest single component but all friction forces making up the majority.

In a high incline conveyor such as an underground mine slope belt, power might be broken down as per Figure 2, with lift contributing a huge majority. Since there is no way to reduce gravity forces, there are no means to significantly reduce power on high incline belts. But in a long overland conveyor, power components will look much more like Figure 3, with frictional components making up almost all the power. In this case, attention to the main resistances is essential.

The specifics of power calculation is beyond the scope of this paper but it is important to note that significant research has been done on all four areas of idlers, rubber indentation, alignment and material/belt flexure over the last few years. And although not everyone is in agreement as to how to handle each specific area, it is generally well accepted that attention to these main resistances is necessary and important to overall project economics.

Route Optimization

Horizontal Adaptability Of course the most efficient way to transport material from one point to the next is as directly as possible. But as we continue to transport longer distances by conveyor, the possibility of conveying in a straight line is less and less likely as many natural and man-made obstacles exist. The first horizontally curved conveyors were installed many years ago, but today it seems just about every overland conveyor being installed has at least one horizontal change in direction. And today’s technology allows designers to accommodate these curves relatively easily.

Conveyor Ltd of Australia, this 9 km overland carries 6000 mtph with 4×1500 kW drives installed. The Wyodak Mine, located in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming, USA, is the oldest continuously operating coal mine in the US having recorded annual production since 1923. It currently utilizes an overland (Figure 7) from the new pit to the plant 756m long (2,482 ft) with a 700m (2,300 ft) horizontal radius. This proves a conveyor does not need to be extremely long to benefit from a horizontal turn.

Another industry that would not be able to use belt conveyors without the ability to negotiate horizontal curves is construction tunneling. Tunnels are being bore around the world for infrastructure such as waste water and transportation. The most efficient method of removing tunnel muck is by connecting an advancing conveyor to the tail of the tunnel boring machine. But these tunnels are seldom if ever straight.

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