Tag Archives: Conveyors

Martin Engineering cleans up conveyor operations with DT2S, DT2H

Martin Engineering, a leader in bulk material handling technologies and training, has announced the availability of two rugged secondary conveyor belt cleaners, both engineered for fast and easy maintenance.

The innovative design of the DT2S and DT2H reversible cleaners from Martin Engineering reduces system downtime and labour for clean up or service, while helping to prolong the service life of other conveyor components, the company says.

The models feature a unique split-track blade cartridge that slides in and out on a stainless steel mandrel, meaning the cleaners can be serviced or replaced without stopping the belt when on-site safety approvals are in place, Martin Engineering claims.

Dave Mueller, Conveyor Products Manager for Martin Engineering, says: “Even when the cleaner is encrusted with material, one half of the split frame can be removed so the cartridge can be changed in just five minutes. This allows users to have a spare cartridge on hand and quickly change it out when the blades need replacement. Then they can take the used cartridge back to the shop, clean it up and change the blades so it’s ready for the next service.

These secondary cleaners serve a wide variety of applications, including miningBoth products significantly reduce material carryback, and arr engineered to accommodate reversing conveyors to avoid damage to the belt or splicing, the company says. With steel blades and tungsten carbide tips set into a flexible base, the DT2 cleaners offer simple, effective solutions that can solve a number of carryback-related problems.

Martin DT2H Reversing Cleaner XHD

Designed for particularly demanding conditions, the DT2H Reversing Cleaner XHD is suited for heavy material loads on belts ranging from 400 to 2,400 mm wide that operate at speeds up to 6.1 m/s. 

The company explains: “Carryback accumulations along the return run of the conveyor can occur when the cleaning systems on a conveyor fail to remove most of the material that adheres to the belt after unloading its cargo. Increased build up results in unnecessary labour costs for clean up, and can lead to premature failure of conveyor components if left unchecked.”

Mueller said: Carryback can have an extremely sticky texture and abrasive nature, which can muck up conveyor components and contribute to premature failure. One key to the success of these cleaners is the blade’s negative rake angle (less than 90 degrees). With a negative angle, you get a ‘scraping’ action that mitigates potential belt damage, while delivering outstanding cleaning performance.”

Martin DT2S Reversing Cleaner

Like its larger counterpart, the Martin DT2S reversing cleaner can be installed on belts ranging from 400 to 4,800 mm wide. But, unlike the DT2H, the DT2S is designed for a lower maximum belt speed of 4.6m/s on belts with vulcanised splices. Mueller pointed out that this is primarily due to the difference in applications:The DT2S has a slim frame that allows it to fit in spaces as narrow as 7 in (178 mm). As a result, the DT2S can be attached to belts that may be too small for primary cleaners.”

Both of the DT2 cleaners can be used in medium- to heavy-duty environments, providing a lasting solution to a diverse array of complex problems that are caused by carryback and minimising  fugitive material, the company says.

Pueblo Viejo case study

An example of the cleaners’ performance can be found at the Pueblo Viejo Dominicana Corporation (PVDC) mine in the province of Sanchez Ramirez, about 89 km northwest of the city of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. Operators at the operation, majority owned by Barrick, were experiencing excessive carryback and dust on its conveyor systemresulting in expensive equipment failures, unscheduled downtime and increased maintenance. Production is 365 d/y, but, between April and October, moisture can cause cohesion in fine clay particles, causing the cargo to become sticky. The substance had the consistency of thick toothpaste, which was also able to adhere small chunks of aggregate to the belt, causing destructive carryback that damaged pulleys and headers.

In just two weeks, Martin Engineering technicians replaced the existing belt scrapers at 16 locations with Martin QC1 Cleaner XHD primary cleaners fitted with low-adhesion urethane blades specifically designed for tacky material loads, along with DT2H secondary cleaners. The secondary cleaner blades can endure hot summer temperatures, high moisture content and constant production schedules, according to the company.

Following the upgrades, operations are now cleaner, saferand more productive, giving executives and stakeholders more confidence in the sustained operation of the mine, which is projected to be profitable for the next 25 years or more.  

BEUMER completes acquisition of conveyor systems provider FAM Group

BEUMER Group says it has completed the acquisition of the FAM Group of Magdeburg, Germany, in the process, increasing its conveyor system and loading technology offering.

BEUMER, a leader in the manufacture of intralogistics systems for conveying, loading, palletising, packaging, sorting and distribution, signed the purchase agreement in early May, with the transaction legally concluding on June 9, 2022.

The BEUMER Group has held a stable position in the bulk materials technology market for decades and, with the acquisition of the FAM Group, the systems provider has significantly strengthened its market position in the minerals and mining sectors, it said.

The FAM Group is a manufacturer of conveyor systems and is an internationally operating, medium-sized group with 750 employees. The company is one of the world’s leading full-range bulk handling and processing equipment suppliers, able to plan, design and manufacture turnkey plants and systems for mining, extracting, loading and storing minerals, raw materials and goods.

In addition to expanding the BEUMER Group’s portfolio, FAM’s know-how and global positioning also complement BEUMER’s competence in the project planning of plants, BEUMER said. FAM brings not only planning and engineering, but the entire value chain to the BEUMER Group, including aftersales service.

The company concluded: “The BEUMER Group offers FAM a long-term perspective anchored on the highest possible quality, sustainability and innovation: for almost 90 years now, the BEUMER Group, a family-run and wholly self-financed company, has been developing customized system solutions for the mining industry, among others.”

Earlier this month, Rudolf Hausladen became the new CEO of BEUMER Group, succeeding Dr Christoph Beumer, who had led the group as CEO since 2000.

BEUMER Group develops hybrid conveyor technology for ports

BEUMER Group has responded to the changing demands of dry bulk customers with two new products that leverage its existing expertise in pipe and troughed belt conveying technology.

Speaking at a recent virtual media event, Andrea Prevedello, CEO of BEUMER Group Austria, announced the new additions under the U-Shape conveyor family.

Leveraging the advantages of pipe conveyors and troughed overland belt conveyors, the U-Shape conveyor enables an environmentally friendly and efficient operation in port terminals, BEUMER Group said. The design allows the implementation of more narrow curve radii than a troughed belt conveyor with higher mass flows than a pipe conveyor, all with dust-free transport, the company says.

The company explained the hybridisation of the two: “The troughed belt conveyors allow high mass flows even in case of heavy and robust materials. Their open design makes them suitable for coarse materials and very large volumes.

“The pipe conveyors, on the contrary, present other specific advantages. The idlers form the belt to a closed tube protecting the material transported against external influences and the environment from emissions such as material loss, dust or odours. Partition plates with hexagonal cuts and idlers in a staggered arrangement keep the tube shape closed. The pipe conveyors allow the implementation of more narrow curve radii and larger angles of inclination than open troughed belt conveyors.”

With requirements changing – the quantities of bulk materials growing, the routing becoming increasingly complex and environmental considerations rising – BEUMER Group found the need to develop the U-Shape conveyor.

“In this solution, a special idler configuration brings the belt in a u-shape,” it said. “Thus, the bulk material reaches the discharge station. An idler configuration similar to that for the troughed belt conveyor is used for opening the belt.”

Bringing together the advantages of open troughed belt conveyors and closed pipe conveyors, conveyed material is protected against external influences such as wind, rain or snow; and the environment against possible material loss and dust.

Within the family are two products that offer higher curve flexibility, higher capacity, bigger lump size allowance, no spillage and reduced power consumption, according to Prevedello.

The T-U-Shape conveyor is a U-shape conveyor designed like a normal troughed belt conveyor, but comes with a 30% reduction in width, allowing the ability to take on tighter curves, Prevedello says. This looks to have many applications in tunnelling applications.

The P-U-Shape conveyor, as the name would infer, is derived from the pipe conveyor, but offers 70% higher capacity with the same width and 50% higher lump size allowance, Prevedello says, explaining that it could allow BEUMER Group to consider the use of pipe conveyors in space-constrained environments.

New installations will obviously be targeted as part of this new product launch, but Prevedello says there are both greenfield and brownfield application possibilities with these new conveyors.

The T-U-Shape conveyor had more ‘new’ installation opportunities in tunnelling applications, he said, with the tight turning radii benefits allowing for small installations in tunnels.

With many ports shifting focus away from coal and handling different materials, the P-U Shape conveyor’s increased capacity and higher lump size flexibility could be of benefit in brownfield applications, he added.

“The ports are facing the challenges of dealing with new materials, so adapting what they have is important here,” he said.

REMA TIP TOP expands southern Germany conveyor network with Hempel Industrievulkanisation acquisition

REMA TIP TOP AG says it has acquired HEMPEL Industrievulkanisation GmbH & Co. KG, a conveyor technology company based in Neu-Ulm in a transaction that further expands its materials processing technology service network in southern Germany.

For 45 years, Hempel Industrievulkanisation has been a force to be reckoned with in the field of conveyor technology in southern Germany, focusing on the installation, repair and splicing of conveyor belts made of rubber and PVC, REMA TIP TOP says.  The company is also a service partner for the maintenance and renewal of conveyor systems, coating and repair of conveyor belt drums and idlers and wear protection technology.

“Both companies are linked by a long-standing partnership, which will be taken to the next level with the acquisition,” company Owner Roy Hempel, who started his career at REMA TIP TOP, said.

Bodo Wein of REMA TIP TOP, who will support Roy Hempel on the management board, said “Service and solution orientation will continue to be the unrestricted focus of our thinking and business in the future.”

Martin Engineering compiles conveyor operation, safety educational resource

Martin Engineering, a leader in conveyor accessories and bulk material handling solutions, has launched what it says is a comprehensive digital educational resource for conveyor operation and safety.

The online Foundations™ Learning Center draws from the collective knowledge and expertise gathered over nearly 80 years solving bulk handling challenges. Aimed at apprentice technicians and experienced engineers alike, the non-commercial information is offered at no charge and is accessible by computer, tablet, or smartphone.

An extension of the Foundations training curriculum, the Learning Center uses a mix of text, photos, videos, webinars, online events, and live experts available to answer questions. The result is a unique central hub for industry professionals of all knowledge levels to use as a resource for building a deep understanding of material flow and safe, efficient conveyor operation, Martin Engineering says.

Not everyone learns by reading a textbook or following a lecture, so we set up the Learning Center as the place to go for all things conveyor and bulk handling for all types of learners,” Jerad Heitzler, Foundations Training Manager and curator of the Learning Center, said. “Technology allows us to accommodate different learning styles by offering several avenues to the same knowledge. The centre is designed in categories to provide easy access to the resources and organised so that people can find what they need quickly.”

The Learning Center is an online portal where plant operators, managers, and supervisors can send members of their teams to build their understanding of every aspect of conveyor operation and safety practices. The platform provides visitors with immediate solutions that are applicable and actionable, regardless of the equipment manufacturer. It is also a place to learn about the latest technologies, techniques, and compliance measures.

Building from its comprehensive training resources Foundations, The Practical Resource for Cleaner, Safer, More Productive Dust & Material Control and Foundations for Conveyor Safety, the Learning Center has been modelled on decades of knowledge from Martin’s experienced team of engineers and field technicians in every corner of the bulk materials handling industry. To start with, the creators have focused on the basics of conveyor operation and safety, with more advanced subject matter being added regularly.

The Learning Center resources supplement and enhance Martin Engineering’s extensive Foundations training program. The in-person training program combines the hands-on instruction and personal attention found in a classroom setting with the Learning Center technology, the textbook, and comprehension testing.

The modules of the Learning Center are split into nine categories:

  1. Material carryback & belt cleaning
  2. Dust management
  3. Material spillage
  4. Belt conveyor safety
  5. Conveyor belt & component damage
  6. Conveyor belt mistracking
  7. Material flow problems
  8. Belt conveyor system maintenance
  9. Basics of belt conveyor systems
Once the category is chosen, the learner is greeted with the core issues related to the module and examples of best practicesVideo overviews are immediately available to introduce the subject. The navigation bar to the right of each module page provides a detailed walkthrough of the subject from beginning to end with text information, topical webinars, videos and related articles.
“Our goal is comprehension and retention,” Heitzler pointed out. “Visitors might be pressed for time or may become distracted. While an experienced live instructor can see that and overcome it in a face-to-face training session, online learning is a different animal. So by providing visitors with options for learning and ways to break up the information rather than hours of reading or long videos, we’re able to better engage them, improving their experience and their learning.”

Once the Learning Center has been fully explored, users should have the foundation needed to operate belt conveyors safely and effectively. If managers choose, they can refer their employees to the Learning Center to gain professional development credits toward their certification to become qualified as maintenance technicians, operators, foremen, millwrights/fitters and so on.

The feedback from people who have already used the Learning Center has been excellent, according to the company. Users find it informative, easy to use, engaging, and an overall enjoyable experience. Managers and supervisors say they like having a trustworthy and cost-effective source for quick, unbiased information.  

“Of course, nothing replaces hands-on training and on-the-job experience, so that’s why the training system is called Foundations,” Heitzler said. “We provide the basic knowledge needed to work safely and efficiently in a platform that they can easily access when they need it.”

Conveyor technology: designing for the future by innovating the present

Higher production demands across all bulk handling segments require increased efficiency at the lowest cost of operation, in the safest and most effective manner possible, R Todd Swinderman, CEO Emeritus of Martin Engineering, writes*.

As conveyor systems become wider, faster and longer, more energy output and more controlled throughput will be needed. Add an increasingly stringent regulatory environment, and cost-conscious plant managers must closely review which new equipment and design options align with their long-term goals for the best return on investment (ROI).

Safety at higher belt speeds

Safety is likely to become a new source of cost reduction. The percentage of mines and processing facilities with a robust safety culture are likely to increase over the next 30 years to the point where it is the norm, not the exception. In most cases, with only a marginal adjustment to the belt speed, operators quickly discover unanticipated problems in existing equipment and workplace safety. These problems are commonly indicated by a larger volume of spillage, increased dust emissions, belt misalignment and more frequent equipment wear/failures.

Higher volumes of cargo on the belt can produce more spillage and fugitive material around the system, which can pose a tripping hazard. According to the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), slips, trips and falls account for 15% of all workplace deaths and 25% of all workplace injury claims. Moreover, higher belt speeds make pinch and sheer points in the conveyor more dangerous, as reaction times are drastically reduced when a worker gets clothing, a tool or a limb caught from incidental contact.

The faster the belt, the quicker it can wander off its path and the harder it is for a belt tracker to compensate, leading to spillage along the entire belt path. Caused by uncentred cargo, seized idlers or other reasons, the belt can rapidly come in contact with the mainframe, shredding the edge and potentially causing a friction fire. Beyond the workplace safety consequences, the belt can convey a fire throughout the facility at extremely high speed.

When a conveyor isn’t centre-loaded, the cargo weight pushes the belt toward the more lightly-loaded side

Another workplace hazard − one that is becoming progressively more regulated − is dust emissions. An increase in the volume of cargo means greater weight at higher belt speeds, causing more vibration on the system and leading to reduced air quality from dust. In addition, cleaning blade efficiency tends to decline as volumes rise, causing more fugitive emissions during the belt’s return. Abrasive particulates can foul rolling components and cause them to seize, raising the possibility of a friction fire and increasing maintenance costs and downtime. Further, lower air quality can result in fines and forced stoppages by inspectors.

Correcting misalignment before it happens

As belts get longer and faster, modern tracking technology becomes mandatory, with the ability to detect slight variations in the belt’s trajectory and quickly compensate before the weight, speed and force of the drift can overcome the tracker. Typically mounted on the return and carry sides every 70 to 150 ft (21-50 m) − prior to the discharge pulley on the carry side and the tail pulley on the return − new upper and lower trackers utilise innovative multiple-pivot, torque-multiplying technology with a sensing arm assembly that detects slight variations in the belt path and immediately adjusts a single flat rubber idler to bring the belt back into alignment.

The pivoting ribbed roller design grabs the belt and uses the opposing force to shift it back into alignment

Modern chute design

To drive down the cost per tonne of conveyed material, many industries are moving toward wider and faster conveyors. The traditional troughed design will likely remain a standard. But with the push toward wider and higher-speed belts, bulk handlers will need substantial development in more reliable components, such as idlers, impact beds and chutes.

A major issue with most standard chute designs is that they are not engineered to manage escalating production demands. Bulk material unloading from a transfer chute onto a fast-moving belt can shift the flow of material in the chute, resulting in off-centre loading, increasing fugitive material spillage and emitting dust well after leaving the settling zone.

Newer transfer chute designs aid in centring material onto the belt in a well-sealed environment that maximises throughput, limits spillage, reduces fugitive dust and minimises common workplace injury hazards. Rather than material falling with high impact directly onto the belt, the cargo’s descent is controlled to promote belt health and extend the life of the impact bed and idlers by limiting the force of the cargo at the loading zone. Reduced turbulence is easier on the wear liner and skirting and lowers the chance of fugitive material being caught between the skirt and belt, which can cause friction damage and belt fraying.

Longer and taller than previous designs, modular stilling zones allow cargo time to settle, providing more space and time for air to slow down, so dust settles more completely. Modular designs easily accommodate future capacity modifications. An external wear liner can be changed from outside of the chute, rather than requiring dangerous chute entry as in previous designs. Chute covers with internal dust curtains control airflow down the length of the chute, allowing dust to agglomerate on the curtains and eventually fall back onto the belt in larger clumps. And dual-skirt sealing systems have a primary and secondary seal in a two-sided elastomer strip that helps prevent spillage and dust from escaping from the sides of the chute.

Modern stilling zones feature components designed to reduce maintenance and improve safety

Rethinking belt cleaning

Faster belt speeds can also cause higher operating temperatures and increased degradation of cleaner blades. Larger volumes of cargo approaching at a high velocity hit primary blades with greater force, causing some designs to wear quickly and leading to more carry back and increased spillage and dust. In an attempt to compensate for lower equipment life, manufacturers may reduce the cost of belt cleaners, but this is an unsustainable solution that doesn’t eliminate the additional downtime associated with cleaner servicing and regular blade changes.

As some blade manufacturers struggle to keep up with changing production demands, industry leaders in conveyor solutions have reinvented the cleaner industry by offering heavy-duty engineered polyurethane blades made to order and cut on site to ensure the freshest and longest lasting product. Using a twist, spring or pneumatic tensioner, the primary cleaners are forgiving to the belt and splice but are still highly effective for dislodging carry back. For the heaviest applications, one primary cleaner design features a matrix of tungsten carbide scrapers installed diagonally to form a 3D curve around the head pulley. Field service has determined that it typically delivers up to four times the service life of urethane primary cleaners, without ever needing re-tensioning.

Taking belt cleaner technology into the future, an automated system increases blade life and belt health by removing blade contact with the belt any time the conveyor is running empty. Connected to a compressed air system, pneumatic tensioners are equipped with sensors that detect when the belt no longer has cargo and automatically backs the blade away, minimising unnecessary wear to both the belt and cleaner. Additionally, it reduces labour for the constant monitoring and tensioning of blades to ensure peak performance. The result is consistently correct blade tension, reliable cleaning performance and longer blade life, all managed without operator intervention.

Power generation

Systems designed to operate at high speeds over considerable distances are generally powered only at vital locations such as the head pulley, disregarding adequate power for autonomous ‘smart systems’, sensors, lights, accessories or other devices along the length of the conveyor. Running auxiliary power can be complicated and costly, requiring transformers, conduits, junction boxes and oversized cables to accommodate the inevitable voltage drop over long runs. Solar and wind can be unreliable in some environments, particularly in mines, so operators require alternative means of reliable power generation.

By attaching a patented mini-generator to idlers and using the kinetic energy created by the moving belt, the accessibility obstacles found in powering ancillary systems can now be overcome. Designed to be self-contained power stations that are retrofitted onto existing idler support structures, these generators can be employed on virtually any steel roller.

The design employs a magnetic coupling that attaches a “drive dog” to the end of an existing roller, matching the outside diameter. Rotated by the movement of the belt, the drive dog engages the generator through the outer housing’s machined drive tabs. The magnetic attachment ensures that electrical or mechanical overload does not force the roll to stop; instead, the magnets disengage from the roll face. By placing the generator outside the material path, the innovative new design avoids the damaging effects of heavy loads and fugitive material.

Bulk handling, safety and automation in the future

Automation is the way of the future, but as experienced maintenance personnel retire, younger workers entering the market will face unique challenges, with safety and maintenance skills becoming more sophisticated and essential. While still requiring basic mechanical knowledge, new maintenance personnel will also need more advanced technical understanding. This division of work requirements will make it difficult to find people with multiple skill sets, driving operators to outsource some specialised service and making maintenance contracts more common.

Conveyor monitoring tied to safety and predictive maintenance will become increasingly reliable and widespread, allowing conveyors to autonomously operate and predict maintenance needs. Eventually, specialised autonomous agents (robots, drones, etc) will take over some of the dangerous tasks, particularly in underground mining as the ROI for safety provides additional justification.

Ultimately, moving large quantities of bulk materials inexpensively and safely will result in the development of many new and higher capacity semi-automated bulk transfer sites. Previously fed by truck, train or barge, long overland conveyors transporting materials from the mine or quarry site to storage or processing facilities may even impact the transportation sector. Stretching vast distances, these long bulk handling networks have already been built in some places with low accessibility but may soon be commonplace in many areas around the world.

*This story was written by R Todd Swinderman, CEO Emeritus of Martin Engineering

Railveyor brings in Cat MineStar GM Jim Hawkins as new CEO

Rail-Veyor Technologies Global Inc (RVTG) has welcomed James “Jim” Hawkins as its new Chief Executive Officer (CEO), effective October 1.

Hawkins takes over the executive duties from Jim Fisk who filled the role during a year-long global search. Fisk remains as Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors.

During a career spanning 35 years at Caterpillar, Hawkins led various parts of the organisation in the functional areas of Engineering, New Product Development, Sales/Marketing, Dealer Administration and Product Management. Most recently he served as General Manager of the MineStar technology business, where he was responsible for the development, sales, implementation, operations and support of technologies developed for the mining industry to aid customers in enhancing their safety while increasing productivity and efficiency.

Notably, he led the organisation to develop and commercialise autonomy for mobile equipment – a project which created unparalleled customer value and positioned the company as a leader in this transformational technology, RVTG said.

Hawkins said: “I was attracted to Railveyor by the potential of this technology to improve the safety, efficiency and environmental sustainability of how material is moved in the mining industry. We have a great team of people with tremendous experience in solving customer problems, and I am honoured to lead them as a part of the Railveyor organisation.”

Fisk added: “The product continues to prove its value to more and more customers around the world and so, again, we’re at a turning point in the life of Railveyor as a company. I have no doubt that Jim Hawkins has the experience, insight and character to wisely lead our accelerating enterprise into the next chapter of Railveyor.”

One of the latest Rail-Veyor contracts is at PJSC Sukha Balka’s Frunze underground iron ore mine in Ukraine.

Hawkins is a graduate of the University of Nebraska with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and has completed the Executive Leadership Program at Stanford University.

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.

Mader Group hits another quarterly record as it keeps expanding

Mobile and fixed plant equipment maintenance provider Mader Group has declared a stellar set of quarterly financials that included a second consecutive quarterly revenue figure.

Revenue for the three months to the end of June came in at A$86.4 million ($63.5 million), up 24% on the prior corresponding period (PCP), and up 14% on the previous quarter.

Revenue generated in Australia increased to A$77 million, up 21% on the PCP, driven by high levels of customer demand, while, in North America, quarterly revenue increased to A$6.8 million, up 45% on the PCP excluding foreign exchange movements (30% on an A$ basis).

The company said its preparations for operational delivery into Canada were now complete with customer negotiations well advanced.

Reflecting on Mader Group’s quarterly performance, Executive Director & Chief Executive Officer, Justin Nuich, said: “On the back of two consecutive quarters of record revenue growth, we close our books for the financial year with A$304 million in revenue and with a strong earnings result to follow. This is very pleasing and reflects the strength of our labour-focused business model.

“Our operations are more flexible and adaptable than ever, housing a dynamic in-house workforce of more than 1,600 skilled tradespersons deployed across nearly 400 sites globally. In all locations, we have prioritised the needs of our customers and our people, safely delivering over 3.4 million hours of specialised equipment maintenance for financial year 2021.”

During the period, the company continued to develop its internal safety systems to ensure the health and wellbeing of a largely remote workforce. Mader prioritised the continued roll out of a bespoke in-vehicle monitoring system for its service fleet, seeing considerable improvement in driver behaviour over the quarter, it said.

Mader also commenced trialling its safety-focused mobile app to its North American workforce.

The platform, which is already widely accessible to Mader employees within Australia, is designed to connect Mader employees to its digitally integrated safety processes, resources and company alerts.

Within Mader’s Australian operations, the group’s infrastructure and ancillary maintenance service lines remained a key focus in the business’ growth strategy. Continued diversification saw the company expand its ancillary service offerings.

“Moving into climate control support for mobile equipment, Mader supported a renewable energy project in a bid to convert diesel-electric haul trucks, exploration drills and locomotives into zero emissions technology,” the company said.

“Mader also worked with a local OEM to conduct off-site rebuilds for plant conveyors and mills. Revenue generated from the business’s ancillary maintenance services increased 21% vs PCP and by 12% vs PCP for its infrastructure maintenance services.”

Mader said its core service areas also gained traction during the quarter leading to the expansion of its in-field maintenance operations for heavy mobile equipment, driven by high customer demand across Australia. In Western Australia, this included growth in its Rapid Response team and “specialised equipment maintenance offerings”.

The company added: “Our disruptive business model continues to roll out into a large addressable market that has an appetite for significant additional capacity. All of our core business divisions continue to grow and our strategy of building new divisions that address new geographic locations or that provide additional trades and services is driving further growth.

“We are seeing structural advances in the Australian market as large owner-miners continue to develop multibillion-dollar resource projects, ultimately increasing the size of the maintainable mining fleet.”