Tag Archives: bulk handling

Chute Technology improves the flow at Ulan operations

Chute Technology says its new coal and ore handling technologies, designed to overcome production-limiting factors at mines and bulk handling terminals throughout Australia, are proving their worth in service at the Ulan operations in New South Wales.

The technology packages are designed to eliminate potential bottlenecks, occupational health and safety issues and weak links in the production chain that can increase downtime and reduce output, Chute Technology says.

Typical issues include bin surging, bulk cleaning, spillages, blockages and reduced throughput rates, resulting in inefficient production.

According to Dennis Pomfret, Managing Director, Chute Technology, the company designed a customised chute to eliminate potential downtime for a specific section of the bypass system at the Ulan Surface Operations, which IM understands is owned by Glencore.

The new chute has dramatically reduced downtime since commissioning, according to the company, whereas the legacy arrangements were a source of multiple hours of lost production.

“The new chute allows Ulan Surface Operations to operate with a full feed rate of 2,000 t/h without any stoppages or blockages, so they can maximise their productivity and our profitability,” Pomfret said.

Chute Technology says it combines its decades of Australian and international practical engineering experience with advanced expertise in new flow enhancement and problem-solving technologies to produce modern answers to minerals and materials handling problems. The company provides audits and solutions extending from single issues at individual plants through to whole-of-process improvements extending from mines to port or point of resource use.

Pomfret said Ulan Surface Operations was looking to the future by investing in a solution designed to maximise productivity and eliminate unwanted downtime.

“We’re delighted that we could make Ulan Surface Operations’ bypass vision come to life, and it’s rewarding to see it working out in service,” he said. “Ulan Surface Operations is always looking to employ modern solutions that avoid problems in the first place, rather than cleaning up a mess after it occurs.”

Chute Technology performed an audit of current operations to gain a holistic view of current operations, before recommending the solution. The engineering audit determined that functionality of one known trouble spot, the bypass hopper and vibratory feeder, could be taken out of service and replaced with a simpler transfer chute with an in-built surge capacity.

The chute was designed in such a way that it could all be lifted and installed in one go, minimising installation downtime, the company said.

Chute Technology also designed and installed an adjustable surge control baffle device to control the height of material on the conveyor belt. The device acts like a trimmer on the end of the chute, where it trims the height of material during times of surge loading, to avoid belt overloading, side spillage and keep material heights consistent.

“We anticipate the surge control device will reduce spillage considerably, especially when taking into account the typical delays in conveyor stopping and starting sequences,” Pomfret said.

“A major consideration for the project was to design the new chute around the existing structures as much as possible, so that there was as little rework or modifications needed before installation.

“We also took into consideration that the drop height is almost 15 m. Ulan Surface Operations wished to retain their surge bin, floor structure, vibrating feeder and conveyor structures, so we designed around these as much as was possible. Additionally, the design was modular, so the installation took as little time as possible.”

Chute Technology says it selected an asymmetric chute to avoid belt mis-tracking issues, a “virtual skirtboard” to optimise the internal flow geometry and designed a single point of contact flow path so the material flow is constantly in contact with the chute from the head pulley to the receiving belt.

Pomfret concluded: “This project has been an excellent success, and we look forward to a long-term relationship with Ulan Surface Operations, as they look to maximise productivity and profitability.”

Martin Engineering on resolving bulk material handling issues with flow aids

In order to achieve controlled and consistent flow on conveyors handling large volumes of bulk material, transfer chutes and vessels must be designed not just to accommodate – but to actually facilitate – the flow of the cargo they will be handling.

Unfortunately, because so many conditions can hamper effective cargo flow, engineering a conveyor and chutework that would handle every material situation is virtually impossible.

Even modest changes in moisture content can cause adhesion to chute or vessel walls or agglomeration at low temperatures, especially if the belt is stagnant for any period of time. Even during continuous operation, a bulk material can become compressed, and physical properties often change due to natural variations in the source deposits, suppliers or specifications, or if the material has been in storage. If left to build up, material can encapsulate belt cleaners and deposit harmful carry-back onto the return side, fouling idlers and pulleys, according to Martin Engineering. At worst, systems can become completely blocked by relatively small (and common) changes. To overcome these issues, a variety of devices collectively known as flow aids can be employed.

What Are Flow Aids?

As the term implies, flow aids are components or systems installed to promote the transport of materials through a chute or vessel, controlling dust and spillage. Flow aids come in a variety of forms, including rotary and linear vibrators, high- and low-pressure air cannons and aeration devices, as well as low-friction linings and special chute designs to promote the efficient flow of bulk materials. These modular systems can be combined in any number of ways to complement one another and improve performance. The components can be used for virtually any bulk material or environment, including hazardous duty and temperature extremes. One of the primary advantages is that an operation can obtain a level of control over the material flow that is not possible any other way.

When employing flow aids, it is critical that the chute and support components are sound and the flow aid be properly sized and mounted, because the operation of these devices can create potentially damaging stress on the structure, the company says. A properly designed and maintained chute will not be damaged by the addition of correctly sized and mounted flow aids.

It is also important that any flow aid device be used only when discharges are open and material can flow as intended. The best practice is to use flow aids as a preventive solution to be controlled by timers or sensors to avoid material build-up, rather than waiting until material accumulates and restricts the flow. Using flow aid devices in a preventive mode improves safety and saves energy, since flow aids can be programmed to run only as needed to control buildup and clogging.

Air cannons

One solution for managing material accumulation in chutes and vessels is the low-pressure air cannon, originally developed and patented by Martin Engineering in 1974. Also known as an “air blaster”, it uses a plant’s compressed air to deliver an abrupt discharge to dislodge the buildup. Cannons can be mounted on metallic, concrete, wood or rubber surfaces. The basic components include an air reservoir, fast-acting valve with trigger mechanism and a nozzle to distribute the air in the desired pattern to most effectively clear the accumulation.

The device performs work when compressed air (or some other inert gas) in the tank is suddenly released by the valve and directed through an engineered nozzle, which is strategically positioned in the chute, tower, duct, cyclone or other location. Often installed in a series and precisely sequenced for maximum effect, the network can be timed to best suit individual process conditions or material characteristics. The air blasts help break down material accumulations and clear blocked pathways, allowing solids and/or gases to resume normal flow. In order to customize the air cannon installation to the service environment, specific air blast characteristics can be achieved by manipulating the operating pressure, tank volume, valve design and nozzle shape.

In the past, when material accumulation problems became an issue, processors would have to either limp along until the next scheduled shutdown or endure expensive downtime to install an air cannon network. That could cost a business hundreds of thousands of dollars per day in lost production. Many designers proactively include the mountings in new designs so that future retrofit can be done without hot work permits or extended downtime. A new technology has even been developed for installing air cannons in high-temperature applications without a processing shutdown, allowing specially-trained technicians to mount the units on furnaces, preheaters, clinker coolers and in other high-temperature locations while production continues uninterrupted.

Engineered vibration

The age-old solution for breaking loose blockages and removing accumulations from chutes and storage vessels was to pound the outside of the walls with a hammer or other heavy object. However, the more the walls are pounded, the worse the situation becomes, as the bumps and ridges left in the wall from the hammer strikes will form ledges that provide a place for additional material accumulations to start.

A better solution is the use of engineered vibration, which supplies energy precisely where needed to reduce friction and break up a bulk material to keep it moving to the discharge opening, without damaging the chute or vessel. The technology is often found on conveyor loading and discharge chutes, but can also be applied to other process and storage vessels, including silos, bins, hoppers, bunkers, screens, feeders, cyclones and heat exchangers.

There is another innovative solution that prevents carry-back from sticking to the rear slope of a discharge chute. The live bottom dribble chute uses material disruption to reduce friction and cause tacky sludge and fines to slide down the chute wall and back into the main discharge flow. By addressing these issues, operators can experience a reduction in maintenance hours, equipment replacement and downtime, lowering the overall cost of operation.

Flow aid devices deliver force through the chute or vessel and into the bulk material. Over time, components will wear, or even break, under normal conditions. Most of these devices can be rebuilt to extend their useful life. Because clearances and fits are critical to proper operation, it’s recommended that flow aid devices be rebuilt and repaired by the manufacturer, or that the manufacturer specifically train plant maintenance personnel to properly refurbish the equipment.

This article was provided to International Mining by Martin Engineering

Kinder Australia takes a liking to AirScrape non-contact conveyor skirting solution

Australia-based conveyor component developer and supplier, Kinder Australia Pty Ltd, has added the AirScrape® non-contact conveyor skirting solution to its range.

From July 2021, the AirScrape has been included in the product range of Kinder Australia following an agreement between Kinder Australia and ScrapeTec Trading.

The AirScrape, as a side seal, and the TailScrape®, as a back seal of the transfer point, complement Kinder’s range of conveyor components and seals, according to ScrapeTec Trading, the company behind AirScrape.

AirScrape founder and mining engineer, Wilfried Dünnwald, came up with this contact-free side seal for conveyor transfer points after trying to reduce dust build-up during mining, a particular problem in underground applications.

After an initial positive response in Germany, the innovation has gained international recognition with miners in Africa and America now using the device. The agreement with Kinder is looking to expand the product’s reach to the Asia Pacific region.

“In contrast to many side sealing solutions, the AirScrape works completely contact-free at transfers,” ScrapeTec says.

“This eliminates frictional losses due to belt abrasion and extreme belt wear, because the AirScrape is mounted at a distance of 1-2 mm from the belt. In addition, there are the specially arranged blades in this innovative conveyor seal. They create the so-called ‘Venturi effect’. This is the air suction that is created by the movement of the belt and suction of air in from outside. This prevents dust or fine material from escaping through the gap between the belt and the seal.

“In addition, thanks to their arrangement, the lamellas convey coarse material that is pushing outwards back to the centre of the belt. These effects have also piqued Kinder’s interest in Australia.”

Kinder Australia Pty Ltd has been operating in the field of conveyor technology for the mining and bulk materials handling industries since 1985.

Martin Engineering expands conveyor training scope with LMS integration

Martin Engineering has added new online conveyor training content specifically designed to integrate with Learning Management Systems (LMSs) so users can assign, monitor and certify progress of all participants during its courses.

The new offering from Martin Engineering includes eight self-paced modules that address methods to identify, understand and correct common bulk conveying issues to improve safety on powerful and potentially dangerous systems, while complying with regulations, maximising productivity and achieving the lowest operating costs.

“Online conveyor training is delivering critical knowledge to companies around the world, and that’s never been more important than in these pandemic-restricted times,” Training Manager, Jerad Heitzler, said. “But, even as the popularity of these programs continues to rise, larger firms face challenges integrating the content into their LMSs so they can ensure thorough and convenient training for all employees – at all levels – across multiple sites. These modules create a verifiable record of employee training, so customers can track and confirm the participation of individuals company-wide.”

Organised into 90-120 minute segments, the virtual classes cover topics such as best practices for safety, fugitive material control and belt tracking.

With the training modules easily accessible and conveniently located in company-wide LMSs, the new Martin content gives customers complete control over scheduling and tracking, the company says.

“This is the type of training that everyone should have, and companies no longer need to rely on an outside vendor to schedule individual or group sessions,” Heitzler continued. “It delivers an in-depth and consistent understanding of conveyors and their hazards, ensuring that personnel at all levels can work safely and efficiently around these powerful systems.”

Martin Engineering has been providing training for much of its 75-plus year history, helping customers better control bulk material flows while reducing the risks to personnel. Designed to maximise employee engagement, the modules deliver topic-specific, non-commercial content that can be put to immediate use, and the new format allows even the most remote locations to take advantage, the company says.

The eight modules cover essential subjects that include an introduction to the concept of total material control, with content on transfer points, belting and splices, as well as belt cleaning, alignment and dust management.

“This system is created using a SCORM 1.2-compliant format, so it will integrate seamlessly with most existing LMSs,” Heitzler added.

SCORM is a widely used set of technical standards that provides the communication method and data models that allow eLearning content and LMSs to work together. All eight modules are currently available in English, Spanish and Portuguese, and can be provided in a variety of formats to meet the requirements of specific customers and their LMSs.

“Seven of the eight modules have a test at the end, requiring a minimum score of 70% to move on to the next module,” Heitzler said. “SCORM allows the content to interact with the LMS and leverage any features that a customer’s system has, which could include tracking the progress of each learner, providing reports or issuing certificates of completion.”

He concluded: “With this new effort in place, Martin has taken another step forward in global conveyor training. We’ve emerged as an LMS content provider to deliver greater flexibility and control over employee learning, helping customers attain the highest levels of efficiency and safety.”

BEUMER Group’s conveyor and ship loading solutions to be highlighted at MINExpo

BEUMER Group is planning to highlight just how conveying and loading systems enable safe, efficient and environmentally friendly handling of bulk materials at the upcoming MINExpo 2021 event in Las Vegas, USA.

The company’s overland conveyors and pipe conveyors enable mine operators to create individual routes for the transport of raw material with steep angles of inclination and narrow curve radii that are adapted to the respective task and topography, BEUMER says. When planning these systems, the system provider also relies on camera-equipped drones for planning, implementation and documentation. Using special software solutions, the engineers evaluate the aerial photographs photogrammetrically to generate digital terrain models.

The product range includes stackers and bridge reclaimers for storage yards, with or without blending bed systems. These reclaimers stack bulk material and guarantee a maximum blending effect, according to the company. Users can also efficiently homogenise large quantities of different bulk materials and bulk material qualities and, thus, ensure the uniformity of the raw materials used. For efficient loading, BEUMER Group also offers ship loaders with fixed booms and extendable telescopic belt conveyors. To supplement these, users can also procure bulk loading heads to use when loading bulk materials into silo vehicles quickly and without dust.

The company will present efficient system solutions with overland conveyors, pipe conveyors and ship loaders from September 13-15 at MINExpo.

Conveyor Components tackles belt alignment with latest control solution

Conveyor Components Company has added a Tilt Action (TA) belt alignment control solution to its offering for use on most belt conveying systems and wastewater filter presses.

The model TA is available in weatherproof or explosion-proof enclosures, with 120 VAC or 240 VAC input power rated microswitches, the company said.

This belt alignment control has dry, unpowered 20 amp SP/DT microswitches, or 15 amp DP/DT microswitches, to allow control of four separate output functions. The unit is bi-directional, able to operate in either direction and the red-coloured roller is highly visible from a distance.

The trip points are field-settable with a simple set screw adjustment on the cam, while the housing is cast aluminum, with optional epoxy coating available for corrosive environments.

PROK takes conveyor roller durability to a new level with HDPE solution

PROK has just released a new high-density polyethylene (HDPE) roller which, the company says, is lighter, more durable and avoids secondary conveyor damage in the event of a failure, reducing the unscheduled downtime that costs mining companies millions of dollars in lost productivity annually.

PROK Global Product and Engineering Manager, Ray Anderson, said the new roller was specifically designed for high speed and large tonnage applications where reliability was crucial.

“Conveyor rollers are a big cost and can cause huge risk to an operations output,” he said. “A mine or port facility with a large conveyor system will often need to replace several rollers in a day, and that requires a lot of maintenance manpower.

“If a traditional steel roller breaks it can damage the conveyor belt and the whole conveyor system can go offline, so the mining industry has been steadily moving towards lighter, more durable rollers made of advanced composite materials.

“Reliable rollers are crucial to maintaining production levels. If a conveyor stops due to roller failure, you start losing money.”

The global conveyor component manufacturer says it pioneered the use of lightweight HDPE material in conveyor rollers over 10 years ago searching for a solution that would not damage the conveyor belt in the event of failure, while reducing the risk of manual handling injuries when rollers were being installed or changed out.

Built on more than 18 months of research and development, its latest solution is state-of-the-art, taking low maintenance rollers to a whole new level, PROK said. Using a specially formulated reinforced polymer matrix, the lightweight, belt-friendly, wear-resistant roller has been created for heavy-duty applications.

Incorporating features to lower maintenance costs and a high-performance bearing housing to ensure there is no risk of end-cap walk over time, PROK HDPE delivers the reliability that can help mining companies increase production and improve safety, according to the company.

The HDPE rollers are made from a specifically engineered high-density polyethylene, which means they are suitable for corrosive environments. They also have a premium seal arrangement (with low friction properties to ensure low break away mass and run resistance during operation) and come in a range of sizes to suit a variety of mining operations and applications.

In what PROK claims to be a world first, the new HDPE roller also includes visual wear indicator technology to assist mining companies in improving their maintenance planning.

The original PROK yellow tube combines with a green inner layer to act as a visual wear indicator for maintenance teams so they can better plan their roller changeouts. This innovative feature will help customers to simplify idler maintenance and reduce costs, according to the company.

Metso Outotec to deliver overland conveyor system to South America mine

Metso Outotec has received an order for a heavy-duty overland mine conveyor system in South America set to run at speeds of up to 6 m/s and a delivery capacity of over 9,000 t/h, the mining OEM says.

The delivery consists of high reliability overland conveyors, including a 2 km single flight conveyor, it said.

The order value is around €10 million ($11.9 million) and it has been booked in the company’s Minerals division March quarter orders received.

Alexandre Martins, Business Manager, Crushing and Conveying Systems business line at Metso Outotec, said: “Metso Outotec’s full range of overland conveyor solutions provides economic and reliable material transportation for both open-pit and underground operations at the lowest total cost of ownership. Metso Outotec’s patented Energy Saving Idlers bring important power savings to long-distance conveyors, reduced belt tension, and extended rollers life, enabling a reduced maintenance cost over the equipment life and a more sustainable operation.”

The Metso Outotec conveyor offering covers complete end-to-end conveyor solutions, it says, including concept studies and definitions for all types of terrains and route types with horizontal and vertical curves.

In addition, the offering also includes post-installation services and maintenance, including a full range of accessories, belts and components for different types of applications.

Martin Engineering goes autonomous with N2 Twist Tensioner for conveyor belts

Martin Engineering has introduced an autonomous tensioning system that, it says, continuously monitors and delivers proper cleaner tension on conveyor belts.

By using Martin Engineering’s new smart technology platform to maintain proper blade-to-belt pressure, the N2® Twist™ Tensioner provides the best possible cleaning performance throughout the life of the blade, according to the company. The system also alerts operators on the Martin Smart Device Manager App when the blade needs changing or if there is an abnormal condition.

“The result is efficient cleaning, increased safety, reduced labour and a lower cost of operation,” the company said.

Andrew Timmerman, Product Development Engineer at Martin Engineering, said the company designed the unit for heavy-duty applications and tested it outdoors in punishing environments and applications.

“The N2 Twist Tensioner has proven itself to be a rugged and highly effective way to maximise both cleaning efficiency and blade life,” he added.

Located on the head pulley, primary belt cleaners commonly have a twist, ratchet or spring tensioner to ensure the cleaner blade stays in consistent contact with the conveyor belt for proper cleaning and material discharge, Martin Engineering says. Prior to the new design, belt tensioners had to be monitored and adjusted manually, in some applications on a daily basis, so they would maintain optimum pressure and carryback removal. Estimating when blades needed changing was often a guessing game that, if left too long, could lead to belt damage, according to the company.

The company continued: “Inadequate tensioning causes carryback to cling to the belt and spill along its path, piling up under the conveyor and emitting excessive dust. This requires extra labour for clean-up and can affect air quality. Over-tensioning leads to friction damage to the carrying side of the belt, premature blade wear and potential splice damage. Both scenarios create unsafe work conditions and raise the cost of operation significantly.”

The N2 Twist Tensioner automatically maintains precise cleaning pressure throughout the entire life of the blade, without maintenance, Martin Engineering says. The tensioner applies the proper amount of torque to deliver optimum cleaning pressure at the blade tip, supporting the Constant Angle Radial Pressure cleaner design that, it says, withstands the force of heavy bulk cargo but retains a consistently tight seal across the belt profile.

Martin Engineering’s smart technology platform monitors blade wear and informs operators when the blade needs changing from control systems that are housed in a durable weather-resistant NEMA 4 control box. Experts recommend changing blades before there is a chance of detachment or a “pull through” (inversion under the head pulley). In the event of a premature pull through, operators are alerted, and the tensioner’s internal self-relieving coupling rolls over. A blade detachment also triggers an alert allowing operators to quickly shut down the system and avoid expensive belt damage.

The electrical system runs both the tensioning system and the sensors, with the unit powered by a rechargeable 12 v battery life. It can also be specified to run on 110-220 VAC.

Martin Engineering concluded: “The N2 Twist Tensioner and Smart Device Manager App ease the burden on managers and workers so they can focus their attention on other critical details of the operation. Precise tensioning and improved belt cleaning reduce the volume of dust and spillage from carryback, improving workplace safety and decreasing the labour needed to maintain and clean around the discharge zone.”

MLT’s North America conveyor solutions business to be integrated into Flexco

Flexco and MLT Minet Lacing Technology have signed an agreement in which Flexco will be the exclusive source for MLT products in the US, Canada and Mexico.

As part of the agreement, MLT will continue to manufacture the products for North America as Flexco integrates MLT’s North America business into its organisation. MLT will continue to manufacture and distribute its products through its six subsidiaries and its distribution partners throughout the rest of the world.

Flexco is headquartered in Illinois US, and operates subsidiary locations in nine other countries, partnering with its distributor network to provide superior knowledge and products that make belt conveyor operations as productive as possible for its global customers.

MLT is headquartered in Saint-Chamond, France. With three factories located in France, six subsidiaries, and two R&D centres, MLT is distributed in more than 120 countries around the world. The company produces high-quality solutions that are quick and easy to install and reduce the downtime of conveyor belts with definitive splice and repair solutions, Flexco says.

Flexco President and Chief Operating Officer, Thomas S Wujek, said: “Flexco has long respected Minet Lacing Technology’s innovative and productivity-enhancing products and we are looking forward to growing our business with our North American customers through this agreement.”

Shawn Godfrey, Director of MLT USA, said: “We pride ourselves on providing our North American customers with the peace of mind of knowing that we are available to help them choose the right solution for their application, and that service and support will continue to grow with Flexco.”

MLT CEO Group – Operations and Innovations, Frédéric Guillemet, and MLT CEO Group – Business and Development, Patrick Vericel, said they were very happy with the strategic partnership with Flexco in North America.

“Our company is widely known for our innovation and technical developments, and we look forward to working with Flexco to increase the productivity and efficiency of the conveyor belts of customers in North America now and into the future,” they said in a joint statement.