Tag Archives: Martin Engineering

Martin Engineering marks 50-year anniversary of world’s first low-pressure air cannon

A leader in bulk handling solutions, Martin Engineering, is marking the 50th anniversary of its invention of the world’s first low-pressure air cannon.

Air cannons have transformed material flows in bulk processing systems, eliminating problematic internal buildups and blockages. After five decades of continuous innovation, Martin Engineering says it remains at the forefront of air cannon advancements, enabling industrial plants to run more profitably, efficiently and safely than ever.

The company launched the world’s first low-pressure pneumatic air cannon – its Big Blaster® – in 1974. It was devised and developed by Carl Matson, a member of Martin’s senior team and cousin of the firm’s founder Edwin F. Peterson.

The patented technology was designed to dislodge stubborn material stuck to the inside walls of hoppers and silos by firing precisely timed bursts of compressed air to keep bulk material flowing and preventing the growth of serious build-ups and blockages.

The air cannon was originally aimed at the same quarrying applications as the Vibrolator®, the Martin-patented industrial ball vibrator on which the company’s success had been built since its inception in 1944.

By the 1980s, as Martin Engineering expanded its global presence, the Big Blaster was already being reimagined for use in high-temperature industrial applications to maintain the flow of sticky materials through the process and minimise unscheduled downtime.

Martin air cannons soon proved to be transformational for sectors such as cement, for the first time signalling an end to workers having to access the interior of preheater vessels to manually break off hefty material build-ups using a high pressure water jet – one of the most unpleasant and hazardous jobs on a cement plant.

By the 1990s Martin Engineering had developed an extreme heat and velocity version of the Big Blaster, the XHV, with an all-metal construction capable of withstanding the harshest of conditions. In the 2000s Martin became the first to introduce safer positive-pressure firing valve with its Tornado air cannon – technology that prevents unintentional firing if there’s a drop in system pressure, and also allows solenoid valves to be positioned up to 60 m from the air cannon for easier access and maintenance. Designed with safety in mind, the positive firing valve also delivers a more powerful blast.

Soon after that came the introduction of the Hurricane valve, located in the rear of the air cannon tank rather at the tank and nozzle junction, greatly improving safety and ease of maintenance. The exterior-facing design eliminates the need for removal of the tank so maintenance is a simple one-worker operation requiring only minutes for replacement.

In 2008, Martin Engineering opened its industry-leading Center for Innovation, which accelerated the company’s air cannon technology advancements including:
SMART™ Series Nozzles with multiple nozzle tips, one of which features a retractable design that extends the 360° nozzle head into the material stream only when firing, protecting it from repeated abrasions and extreme temperatures. Its clever Y-shaped assembly means the nozzle can be installed, accessed and serviced without removing the air cannon or further disruption to the vessel structure and refractory.

The Martin® Thermo Safety Shield acts as a safety barrier to allow timely and safe maintenance of air cannon systems. It protects workers from exposure to severe temperatures so that maintenance can take place safely and production stays on schedule.

Martin Engineering’s current air cannon designs are the result of the research and development in the Center for Innovation, located at the company’s headquarters in Neponset, Illinois. The center will open its doors to visitors in the Summer of 2024 as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations.

Brad Pronschinske, Martin Engineering’s Global Air Cannon Product Manager, said: “From the very beginning our air cannons were specifically designed to produce a quiet but powerful, high-velocity discharge of plant-compressed air to dislodge buildups and enhance material flow. They were developed to be capable of handling the high temperatures, harsh gases and abrasive, corrosive materials associated with heavy industries, and yet have low maintenance requirements and low costs. Since the launch of the Big Blaster 50 years ago we have continued to innovate, introducing smarter and ever more powerful air cannon systems that improve efficiency, productivity and safety.

“We’re especially proud that Martin air cannons have become so important in reducing the health and safety risks associated with clearing blockages manually – such as working in confined spaces, working at height, falling materials, and working in hot and dusty environments. Our team is always working on new developments and we’re looking forward to bringing the next generation of air cannon technologies to our customers all over the world.”

Martin Engineering restructures Italian business to boost service and growth prospects

Martin Engineering says it has restructured its Italian business and relocated to a new purpose-built facility to boost customer service and accelerate growth.

The move heralds a new chapter for the Italian branch of the US engineering firm, which supplies belt conveyor products and material flow aids to bulk handling and material processing companies to boost production efficiency and workplace safety.

Martin Engineering has been present in Italy for more than 30 years, supporting the country’s producers of coal, cement and aggregates. Moving to a new fit-for-purpose warehouse near Monza, northeast of Milan, allows the company to broaden its remit to solve material handling problems in various industries, it said.

The new location also enables Martin to bring a wider range of products to the Italian market, including the N2® remote monitoring system for conveyor belt cleaners, which enables maintenance teams to track conveyor belt cleaner blades on a mobile app. Also being introduced in Italy is Martin’s range of CleanScrape® belt cleaners, which, it says, are proven to last up to four times longer than standard cleaners with no retensioning or extra maintenance required after installation.

Restructuring the business means Martin Italy is now jointly led by Sales Manager, Matteo Manghi, who heads a team of sales engineers and service technicians, with Administration and Accounts Manager, Simona Farina, who is responsible for accounts, customer service and head office functions. Both Manghi and Farina report directly to Robert Whetstone, Martin Engineering’s Area Vice President for EMEAI (Europe, Middle East, Africa and the Indian subcontinent).

Manghi said: “It’s an exciting time for Martin Engineering in Italy as we now have the capability to apply our bulk handling expertise in new ways to solve problems for customers in a broader range of industries. Our new facility gives us the space to assemble and distribute our products for installation by our team of trained specialist service technicians.”

Farina added: “Martin Engineering has a long history in Italy and the move to our new headquarters represents a new beginning for our Italian business. We are now in a strong position to provide better service to our existing loyal customers and we have a solid base from which to grow our business into new segments of the market and bring new customers on board.”

Whetstone concluded: “Italy has been a key market for Martin Engineering and we firmly believe there are opportunities for growth. Investing in our new office and warehouse facilities will allow us to bring a broader range of products and solutions to Italian customers. I am proud of what our Italian team has achieved through the transition and I look forward to future success supporting our customers.”

Controlling dust at mine conveyor belt discharge points

The design and function of belt cleaners have come a long way. In the past, belt cleaners were rigid, linear pieces of hardware made out of various materials from brick to plastic that earned the name “scrapers” or “wipers” because that is what they did. They had a low operational life, broke or cracked frequently and contributed significantly to belt wear, Todd Swinderman, President Emeritus, Martin Engineering, says.

Modern primary cleaners are usually mounted at the head pulley and made from engineered polyurethane. This specially formulated material is forgiving to the belt and splice, but still highly effective for dislodging cargo, according to Swinderman. Typically supported by mechanical or pneumatic tensioners, the designs require significantly less monitoring and maintenance of blade tension.

Some primary cleaner designs require no tensioning at all after initial installation. The single primary cleaner strips feature a matrix of tungsten carbide scrapers installed diagonally to form a three-dimensional curve around the head pulley and typically delivers up to four times the service life of urethane cleaners without ever needing re-tensioning, he claims.

As conveyor speeds and cargo volumes increase to meet production demands, secondary belt scrapers are often installed immediately after the belt leaves the head pulley to address dust and fines that escape the primary cleaner. Generally equipped with spring or air tensioners that easily adjust to fluctuations in the belt, secondary cleaners are particularly efficient for applications that produce wet, tacky or dusty carryback, Swinderman says.

Some innovative secondary cleaners take a different approach from the standard secondary cleaner. They feature independent 6-in (152 mm) wide blades with carbide tips set on a stainless steel assembly. Each tip is supported on spring-loaded arms at both ends with a wide range of motion that provides equal load pressure across each blade and requires less tensioning over its lifespan. This design absorbs obstructions, responds to belt fluctuations and is able to arc safely in the event of a belt rollback.

Innovations in both blade design and tensioner engineering have improved cleaning ability, increased equipment life, reduced the need for tensioning and blade changes, and decreased labour for maintenance and clean up. Along with lowering the cost of operation, the most noticeable change is less dust along the belt path and in work areas. This improves employee morale and retention and results in better compliance, Swinderman concludes.

Martin Engineering launches next-gen conveyor belt tracking tech

Martin Engineering has launched what it says is the next generation of tracking technology for a global marketplace with its Martin® Tracker™ HD (heavy-duty) belt conveyor alignment system.

This system comes with widely available plate steel to increase availability and affordability across all six continents the company serves.

A mistracking belt produces excessive spillage, which increases labour costs for clean-up and may cause contact with the mainframe. This damages both the belt and the structure and increases the potential for a friction fire, according to the company. The Martin Tracker HD upper and lower units provide immediate, continuous and precise adjustment of the mistracking belt. The result is greater productivity with less unscheduled downtime from both equipment replacement and spillage cleanup for a lower cost of operation, Martin Engineering says.

“Since most OEM mistracking devices are only designed to prevent contact with the stringer and don’t actually realign the belt, operators can spend a lot of time monitoring the system and adjusting idlers to achieve consistent alignment,” Dave Mueller, Product Manager for Martin Engineering, said. “With enough manual adjusting, operators find that idlers must be recentred if there’s a change in cargo characteristics or to install a new belt. The Tracker HD automates the alignment process, eliminating the need for constant monitoring and manual adjustments, reducing the labor and downtime for maintenance.”

The Martin Tracker HD’s precision comes from sensing rollers that ride either side of the belt edge and are attached to the end of an arm assembly. As the rollers detect slight variations in the belt path, the force of the wandering belt causes the arms to automatically position a pivoting idler in the opposite direction of the misalignment. The lever action requires less force to initiate the correction and only slight adjustments mean the consistent contact between the belt and idlers reduces the energy needed to bring the belt back into alignment, the company explains.

“Certain countries can’t buy the square tubing, so we’re now manufacturing the equipment from readily-available plate steel without any changes to the performance or life of the unit,” Mueller said. “This allows the Tracker HD to be produced and supplied across all global business units.”

The upper unit of the Tracker HD comes with the specified trough angle of the conveyor system

Easy to install and designed to withstand the stress associated with wider, thicker belts moving at higher speeds and carrying heavier loads, the Martin Tracker HD is suitable for a belt thickness up to 28.5 mm and speeds up to 4 m/s. Both the upper and lower units accommodate belt widths of 915-1,828 mm with an effective tracking distance of 45.72 m.

Available in 20°, 35° and 45° trough angles, there are options for the addition of a Martin Trac-Mount™ Idler, which allows the entire troughed idler unit to be slid away from the mainframe and safely serviced from outside of the system by a single worker, the company says. This safety element can considerably reduce the amount of labour and maintenance time for the replacement of broken or frozen idlers. Also available are rubber-lagged rollers on the lower tracker and a grease kit for both the upper and lower assemblies. The unit is not suitable for reversing conveyors, belts with substantial rollback, or paddle or chevron belts, Martin Engeering clarified.

It is recommended operators install Martin Tracker HDs after the load zone on belts wider than 610 mm with additional units placed down the system to keep the belt centred and tracking. By placing an upper unit before the discharge, operators ensure the belt is centred on the head pulley allowing for optimal belt cleaning with maximum cargo discharge.

The lower tracker has been redesigned to include an extra safety feature not found in competitor units, the company says. Regardless of the conveyor, return rollers have been known to detach and drop, creating a serious safety issue, so the Martin Tracker HD has been equipped with safety guarding on the steering roll to prevent the roller from coming off or putting workers in harm’s way. On the return, it is recommended to place a tracker after the discharge zone or take-up pulley, as well as periodically down the system depending on length. To ensure centred loading, the belt must enter the loading zone aligned, so installing a lower unit approximately five times the belt’s width in distance from the tail pulley will support an efficient loading process.

Since the basic design of the Martin Tracker HD is similar to that of its predecessors with square tube construction, the testing that has taken place focused on performance, durability and installation time. Tested in bulk handling operations including mining and cement where mistracking leading to spillage had historically been a concern, the unit performed up to Martin Engineering’s high standards, the company said.

“Martin Engineering believes safety should be a core function in any conveyor accessory we design, and the Tracker HD is no different,” Mueller said. “By automating consistent belt tracking, this solution reduces equipment wear, maintenance time and downtime. These factors lower the cost of operation offering the best return on investment of any tracker on the market.”

Martin Engineering recognises 20 years of growth in Africa

Martin Engineering has celebrated its 20th anniversary of growth across the African continent, recognising its roots in the South Africa-based business, Scorpio Conveyor Products, it acquired in November 2003.

Two decades after this activity, Martin Engineering has grown significantly, with employee numbers increasing 10-fold to almost 200 people, and a customer base that now spans 10 countries and a range of industries across Africa.

The business also has plans for further growth thanks to a team of technical experts and an innovative range of products that deliver cleaner, safer and more productive materials handling, it said.

Joining the 20th anniversary celebrations was global CEO, Robert Nogaj, who travelled from the USA to visit Martin’s regional headquarters in Emalahleni, Mpumalanga, South Africa, to meet employees and business partners who have played a key role in Martin’s success.

Nogaj said: “The African continent is a global supplier of essential minerals and metals, and an important market for Martin Engineering, so I am delighted to be spending time with colleagues to celebrate 20 years’ supporting producers here in South Africa and across the continent.

“Over the past two decades, we have made substantial investments in our production facilities and introduced new technologies that have helped our African business to grow and evolve. Yet the most important investment we have made is in supporting and developing our people, fostering talent and promoting diversity in the workplace.

“This is no better evidenced than by the recent appointment of Fran van der Berg as General Manager for Africa. What makes Fran’s achievement even more remarkable is that she began as a temporary member of staff in our marketing team 12 years ago and has proved herself in a number of roles before becoming General Manager. It’s great to see such personal development and we hope her achievement will inspire many others to aspire to leadership roles, regardless of their gender or background.”

Martin is among the engineering firms in South Africa that have achieved ISO45001 (health and safety management) accreditation, reflecting the company’s commitment to maintaining high safety standards and fostering a true safety culture. The team has also achieved B-BBEE Level 2 in South Africa, demonstrating the significant steps taken to promote black economic empowerment, through training programs and an approach to community development that prioritises the employment and support of local people in each operating location.

Robert Whetstone, Martin’s Area Vice President for Europe, Middle East, Africa & India, who also took part in the 20-year celebrations, said the firm’s involvement in Africa has brought huge benefits to Martin Engineering globally: “As a company we’re renowned for having unrivalled know-how and expertise when it comes to solving common problems faced by bulk materials handlers in many foundation industries, from mining and quarrying to fertilizers and freight.

“In Africa we have a team of engineering professionals who have been able to export their specialist knowledge – along with new ways of working and their characteristic can-do approach – to benefit customers in other parts of the region and around the world. This is another demonstration that there is great strength in the diversity and empowerment of our people and that ultimately, we are better together.”

Martin Engineering addresses conveyor safety misconceptions

Martin Engineering is disputing the idea that putting conveyor equipment out of reach or inconveniently placed away from workers – known as “guarding by location” – is a valid form of safety.

After decades of safe equipment design and comprehensive conveyor safety training in the bulk handling industry, Martin Engineering experts have witnessed where “guarding by location” has led to a lapse in workplace safety, resulting in injuries and – in some cases – fatalities, the company says.

Most people readily accept that conveyors and other machinery require safety guards when positioned near workers or walkways. Guarding by location is the assumption that when hazards, such as moving conveyor belts, are positioned beyond the normal reach of a worker they don’t require a guard. Yet they can still present a serious hazard.

Worker risks from guarding by location

Some regulations define a general safe height for components based on the average height of workers. This means taller employees (1.82 m in height or more) can easily suffer an injury reaching up into a moving component that is 2.13 m above the ground. Working above machinery that is considered guarded by location exposes workers to increased severity of injury if they slip or fall to a lower level.

Most regulations do not account for the potential buildup of spillage underneath the conveyor or in walkways, which can easily change the distance between the working surface and a hazard. It’s also fairly common practice to purposely collect a pile of material or fill a bin to gain access for service or inspection of an elevated component. Using tools and methods that extend a worker’s reach while the belt is running is a hazardous activity that can contribute to serious – and possibly fatal – accidents.

Height prevents a worker from reaching hazardous areas until the reality of bulk operations proves otherwise

Hazards from above

By not requiring a physical barrier, guarding by location creates what is considered by some to be an exception to the general requirements for the guarding of hazards in the workplace. Several hazardous locations are beyond the normal reach of staff when working or walking under or around elevated conveyors. These hazards are commonly found in or around nip points between the belt and return rollers or drive components such as pulley shafts, couplings, drive belts, gears and chains. Additional hazards from falling components may be inadvertently ignored if considered guarded by location.

Guarding best practices

The logical solution to guarding by location is to simply install guards and baskets to protect workers from lateral and overhead hazards, while still offering safe and easy access. For maximum risk reduction, all nip points, shear points and moving or rotating components should be guarded, regardless of location or access. However, there is also no global standard for guard mesh sizes and mounting distance from the hazard. Most standards use a gauge to measure the distance which varies by mesh size. When a bulk material handling guard is placed relatively close to a hazard it greatly reduces the ability to inspect components without removing the guard, thereby encouraging guard removal for routine inspections.

It would be far better (and safer) to standardise on a few mesh sizes and mounting distances allowing maintenance workers to build guards to a short list of materials, using standard mounting distances and eliminating the use of the gauges. Below is the recommendation included in Martin Engineering’s book ‘FOUNDATIONS for Conveyor Safety’.

Put an end to the myth

Despite its nearly global acceptance as a concept in industrial safety, the practice of guarding by location remains a particular problem for overhead conveyor applications. It’s time to accept that as far as conveyors are concerned, ‘guarding by location’ is a myth. As such, it’s a concept that should be abandoned in order to make conveyors – and those who work on and around the equipment – safer.

Martin Engineering urges operators to think long term with conveyor acquisitions

Martin Engineering is warning that a lack of understanding of the operational basics of belt conveyor systems, regarding the hardware installed and the performance required from the components, is creating a knowledge gap that is putting employee safety on the line.

Since personnel are the single most important resource of any industrial operation, to meet workplace safety standards, the consensus among safety professionals is to design the hazard out of the component or system, which historically yields more cost-effective and durable results.

Designs should be forward-thinking, according to Martin Engineering. This means exceeding compliance standards and enhancing operators’ ability to incorporate future upgrades cost-effectively by taking a modular approach. This method alleviates several workplace hazards, minimises clean-up and maintenance, reduces unscheduled downtime and extends the life of the belt and the system.

Before the drafting phase, designers should:

  • Establish the goals of reducing injuries and exposure to hazards (dust, spillage, etc.);
  • Increase conveyor uptime and productivity, and;
  • Seek more effective approaches to ongoing operating and maintenance challenges.

To meet the demands for greater safety and improved production, some manufacturers have introduced equipment designs not only engineered for safer operation and servicing but also reduced maintenance time. An example is the Martin® QC1™ Cleaner HD/XHD STS (Safe-to-Service) primary cleaner and the Martin SQC2S™ STS secondary cleaner, designed so the blade cartridge can be pulled away from the belt for safe access and replacement by a single worker.

The same slide-out technology has been applied to impact cradle designs. Systems like the Martin Slider Cradle are engineered so operators can work on the equipment safely, without breaking the plane of motion, it says. External servicing reduces confined space entry and eliminates reach-in maintenance while facilitating faster replacement. The result is greater safety and efficiency, with less downtime.

An example of a safer belt cleaner is the CleanScrape® (pictured), which has a patented design to reduce the need for bulky urethane blades altogether. It delivers extended service life, low belt wear and significantly reduced maintenance, which improves safety and lowers the cost of ownership, the company says.

Unlike conventional belt cleaners that are mounted at an angle to the belt, the CleanScrape is installed diagonally across the discharge pulley, forming a 3D curve beneath the discharge area that conforms to the pulley’s shape. The approach has been so effective that, in many operations, previously crucial secondary belt cleaners have become unnecessary, saving further on belt cleaning costs and service time, according to the company.

Although the policy is generally not explicitly stated by companies, the “low-bid process” is usually an implied rule that is baked into a company’s culture, Martin Engineering says. It encourages bidders to follow a belt conveyor design methodology that gets the maximum load on the conveyor belt with the minimum compliance to regulations using the lowest price materials, components and manufacturing processes available.

“When companies buy on price, the benefits are often short-lived, and costs increase over time, eventually resulting in losses,” Martin Engineering says. “In contrast, when purchases are made based on the lowest long-term cost (life-cycle cost), benefits usually continue to accrue and costs are lower, resulting in a net savings over time.”

Engineering safer conveyors is a long-term strategy. Although design absorbs less than 10% of the total budget of a project, EPCM services can be as much a 15% of the installed cost of a major project, additional upfront engineering and applying a life cycle-cost methodology to the selection and purchase of conveyor components proves beneficial.

Safety-minded design at the planning stage reduces injuries by engineering hazards out of the system, the company states. The system will likely meet or exceed the demands of modern production and safety regulations, with a longer operational life, fewer stoppages and a lower cost of operation.

Martin Engineering looks to shore up bulk material transfer with the Martin Transfer Point Kit

Martin Engineering, a leader in conveyor accessories, says it has reimagined the bulk handling transfer chute to reduce downtime for installation and offer more options for future modifications.

The Martin® Transfer Point Kit from Martin Engineering includes modular horizontal loading zone, settling zone and stilling zone configurations, providing easier installation and a wider variety of chute options while facilitating future upgrades, according to the company. The kit simplifies the installation process, reducing the amount of labour required for assembly and allowing the system to be pre-built prior to installation for reduced system downtime. The result is faster installation with less laboeur and shorter shutdowns, increasing the return on investment.

“This is a rugged one-kit solution designed to fit most standard conveyors and belt widths, regardless of what material is being transferred,” Dave Mueller, Conveyor Products Manager at Martin Engineering, said. “Our Center for Innovation is constantly looking for ways to engineer equipment with safety and our customer’s bottom line in mind. That’s why the kit doesn’t just streamline labour, time and production, but it’s also a logistical solution by shipping it in one crate.”

The Martin Transfer Point Kit is a heavy-duty horizontal enclosure for the loading zone. Each kit is either ordered as a loading zone, settling zone, or stilling zone. The width and length of the kit are determined by the receiving belt’s width and speed and the dust characteristics of the material being transferred. Dustier applications may require a longer settling zone.

This innovation solves three common problems. The first is that transfer chutes are normally shipped in different packages that sometimes don’t arrive at the same time. Upon delivery, inventory is stored until scheduled downtime, increasing the chance of loss or misplacement. Another problem is, for most new transfer chutes on the market, some components can be prepared and assembled beforehand, but, generally, new chutes need to be completely fabricated during downtime. The inability to build the structure before a shutdown increases the project budget and contributes to lost production time. The third problem is, after construction, horizontal transfer point chutes are commonly a single system that requires significant engineering and construction to be modified. Changes to existing transfer points can be challenging, but to accommodate new belt support equipment or adapt to increases in production, the chute is often raised or lengthened.

To address these problems, the chute sections are 1) delivered in a single crate with every component for assembly included; 2) able to be assembled prior to the shutdown and installation, saving time and money; and 3) fully modular, making future changes easy without expensive construction projects.

The transfer point system accommodates belt widths of 450-1,800 mm and an internal chute width of 228-1,498 mm. Each modular section is either 1.21 m or 1.82 m long and constructed of mild steel, 304 stainless steel or 316 stainless steel, with a thickness of 6.35 mm, 12.7 mm, or 19.05 mm to accommodate a wide variety of materials and conditions.

The taller loading zone controls air turbulence and connects to both the drop chute and settling zone. When cargo hits a belt with great velocity, fines and lumps splash up the sides of the belt. Without a properly sealed enclosure, the material will spill underneath the conveyor, creating a hazard, restricting access and fouling other components. The settling zone follows the loading zone and helps mitigate dust emissions. Dust is collected, mechanically filtered or settled back into the cargo stream prior to leaving the stilling zone and continuing as a conventional open air conveyor.

Listed under a single part number, the kit includes a chutewall weldment, wearliner assembly, wearliner plate, outer chute supports, top cover, tail panel/clamp/rubber sheet, installation hardware and an owner’s manual. The skirt seal is sold separately, since it is a single piece that runs the entire length of the chute and skirting is the most frequently replaced wear part in most transfer points.

“After installation, Martin Territory Managers or partner distributors are available to offer support,” Mueller added. “The feedback for the kit has been excellent. Customers get the heavy-duty Martin quality they’ve come to expect in a more convenient, efficient and sustainable package.”

Martin Engineering sets ‘new standard’ in conveyor wear liner technology

Martin Engineering has introduced what it says is a new standard in wear liner technology with the Manufactured Canoe Liner.

Made from durable urethane moulded around a rugged steel plate to absorb impact and abrasion from the punishing bulk handling environment, the Manufactured Canoe Liner is expected to deliver extended equipment life, longer periods of dust and spillage control, improved safety and less maintenance, reducing the overall cost of operation, according to the company.

With the protective plate integrated directly into the urethane liner, the design delivers superior shielding of the skirt sealing system and chute wall from heavy, fast-moving cargo, it says.

“This is a shift in the engineering and role of wear liners,” Dave Mueller, Manager of Conveyor Products for Martin Engineering, said. “Like most conveyor components, the design has evolved into a component that is more effective, safer to maintain and more reliable.”

Previously, most wear liners were sheets of steel welded onto the internal chute wall of the conveyor loading zone. These protected the wall from the punishing effects of splashing, shifting and abrasive material. But since they are wear parts, periodic replacement of these early designs involved enclosed chute entry and hot work using a blow torch, which required certification and supervision, while running the risk of igniting explosive dust. The steel plates generally did not effectively protect the rubber skirt seal, leading to more frequent skirt replacements.

Moreover, the wear liner’s position often left a gap between the liner and the skirting, which captured small lumps of material that could damage the belt. These design issues resulted in excessive downtime, premature equipment replacement and extra labor to monitor and maintain.

The Martin Manufactured Canoe Liner is an engineered urethane strip moulded directly around a protective steel plate.  The unique approach avoids the bonding issues common to previous designs, preventing urethane separation from the plate that could damage the belt and enclosure, the company says.

Each section has a series of 2 in (51 mm) long bracket holes for vertical adjustment. The bottom “belt side” of the liner is cut to an optional 20º, 35º, or 45º angle to maximise belt sealing and protect the softer material of the skirt seal from premature wear. Depending on the weight and abrasiveness of the conveyed material, customers can choose a urethane thickness of 1.3-2 in (33-51 mm).

Delivered in storable cartridges 48 in (1,219 mm) in length, the units can be cut on site to match the needs of the chute. The cartridges can also be installed vertically on top of one another to accommodate taller chute walls or raised enclosures. Like the lower sections, the upper units can be adjusted as well, Martin Engineering added.

As material gradually erodes the Manufactured Canoe Liner, the bottom trough angle continues to protect the skirting. If there are significant gaps between the belt and liner, each individual cartridge can be adjusted by a single technician using a socket wrench, the company claims. Replacement is carried out by removing the worn units, mounting each new cartridge and cutting the end piece to fit. This reduces what used to be a one or two day job to one to two hours, according to the company.

“Martin is constantly seeking to innovate every aspect of the bulk handling process with the goal of making it safer, more effective and easier to maintain,” Mueller said. “The introduction of the Manufactured Canoe Liner achieves our objectives by improving efficiency and lowering the cost of operation.”

Martin Engineering highlights importance of tension in conveyor belt cleaner operations

There are many issues to consider when specifying the most appropriate conveyor belt cleaner, not the least of which is maintaining proper tension to achieve optimum cleaning performance without introducing related problems, Martin Engineering says.

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 cleanup 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 contribute to unsafe work conditions and raise the cost of operation.

“There are two basic approaches to applying tension to the belt cleaner: linear and rotary,” Dave Mueller, Conveyor Products Manager for Martin Engineering, says. “The blade’s cleaning position and angle of approach to the belt often dictate whether a linear or rotary tensioner is used.”

The Conveyor Equipment Manufacturers Association defines the cleaning positions as primary, secondary or tertiary. Primary cleaners typically function with a “peeling” action, while secondary and tertiary cleaners are usually scrapers. Belt cleaners mounted in the primary position generally employ a rotary-style tensioner, while most units mounted in the secondary or tertiary positions use linear style tensioners, Martin Engineering says.

In most cases, belt tensioners have to be monitored and adjusted manually so they can maintain optimum pressure and carryback removal, according to Martin Engineering. Estimating when blades need changing is often a guessing game that, if left too long, could lead to unnecessary complications.

Linear tensioners
“Linear tensioners are most often applied where the compensation for wear is required in small increments, such as with hard metal-tipped cleaners located in the secondary cleaning position or with brush cleaners,” Mueller said.

The simple design of linear tensioners often allows just one setting for full blade wear. Further, these tensioners can accommodate actuator deflection for accurate adjustment of cleaning pressure, delivering the ability to accommodate uneven mounting positions or asymmetrical blade wear.

Rotary tensioners
The required tensioning forces can be applied by springs, hydraulic or pneumatic cylinders, electric actuators or from torque stored in an elastomeric element. Rotary tensioners like the Martin® Twist™ Tensioner are often used with urethane blades, where the change in blade height and thickness as its wear is significant, the company says. Rotary designs tend to be compact and, in most cases, the actuator(s) can be mounted at any orientation, which provides options for installing the belt cleaner in the optimum position.

Air tensioners
Air tensioners use the resilience of a pneumatic cylinder to cushion impact. The tensioners can use Martin’s Air Connection Kit to plug them directly into an existing air system, allowing for a more streamlined installation process.

Spring tensioners
Spring tensioners maintain efficient belt cleaning with a rugged coil spring. The Martin XHD Spring Tensioners deliver effective cleaning while cushioning splice shock to prevent damage, well suited for tensioning heavy-duty belt cleaners while standing up to tough conditionst, according to the company. Dual tensioning is recommended for belt cleaners installed on belts wider than 1,200 mm. However, dual tensioning does not change the fact that regular adjustment is required to maintain suitable cleaning pressure on the belt, which is where Martin’s N2® Smart Technology comes into play, the company says.

Auto tensioner/Position Indicator
Martin Engineering’s smart technology platform includes the company’s patented N2 Position Indicator (PI) to monitor primary cleaner blade wear and inform operators when the blade needs changing. The system uses a cellular gateway that relays data to the cloud and then to the user, delivering actionable information in real time, the company explains.

The N2 PI 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, Martin Engineering says. Precise tensioning and improved belt cleaning reduce the volume of dust and spillage from carryback, improving workplace conditions and decreasing the labour needed to maintain and clean around the discharge zone.

The company concluded: “While manufacturers continue to improve belt cleaner effectiveness, it has become clear that there is no single or ideal solution for belt cleaning and tensioner selection. Safety of personnel and the belt itself is the primary consideration when selecting a tensioner. Ease of inspection and maintenance is critical for belt cleaner effectiveness, so the tensioner must allow quick and safe service. Martin Engineering offers the services and tensioning products that are necessary to meet the multifaceted demands of belt cleaning.”