New innovations for an industry poised to expand in the coming years.

By Mark S. Kuhar

According to ResearchAndMarkets.com, the market in the Asia Pacific region is expected to grow at a high rate from 2020 to 2025. The growth of the market in this region is mainly attributed to technological innovation and the increasing adoption of automation technologies in various end-user industries. 

The Asia Pacific region is witnessing a wave in the deployment of conveyor monitoring solutions to help improve operational efficiency. China and Australia, being the top mining countries in the region, have been adopting real-time conveyor monitoring systems to improve the operational efficiency and production in the country. 

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The rapid rate of urbanization, complementing technological advancements, favorable government policies, and healthy FDI inflows in the region are among a few of the other critical factors driving conveyor monitoring demand. 

Moreover, Australia is likely to hold a high potential for the market growth owing to the presence of the vast reserves of oil and minerals. These have also helped in the establishment of a robust mining sector in the country. 

Additionally, favorable government policies, coupled with the adoption of the latest technologies in condition monitoring, is expected to augment the market growth in the country over the forecast period. The growing demand for predictive maintenance techniques and tools, along with the rising availability of remote conveyor monitoring and fault diagnosis systems, has resulted in fierce competition among manufacturers. 

When a conveyor system goes down, it adds to the cost in terms of both time and money. For example, when a large open-pit mine plans to replace a drive train component on a conveyor, it can result in an as long as eight-hour outage and $2.5 million in lost production. Often, the impact of such disruptions does not stop at just production delays but instead has a far-reaching ripple effect. 

Dealing With Difficult Terrain

Slope angles in open-pit mines can be as steep as 70°, which is why roads for trucks in open-pit mines are usually laid out in terraces. Ropecon offers an alternative way of organising the transport of material in difficult terrain.

The system was developed by Doppelmayr Transport Technology specifically to transport solid bulk material of all kinds. It is perfectly suited for transporting material in and over difficult terrain, as it can traverse obstacles such as rivers, buildings, gorges, or roads without any problem whatsoever and will easily overcome such steep conveying sections of up to 70°.

This system transports the material on a flat belt with corrugated side walls. The belt design originates from vertical conveying, where it has been used for decades. The flat belt performs the haulage function and is driven by, and guided around, a drum at both ends.

The belt is mounted on axles arranged at regular intervals to support it. Running wheels are fitted to both ends of the axles. These wheels run on track ropes with fixed anchoring and guide the belt. The track ropes are lifted off the ground on tower structures.

SchaefflerDue to the rope support structure distances between the towers can be several hundred metres long, and Ropecon will affect neither the terrain between the towers nor roads, trucks or other infrastructure.

Depending on the steepness of the terrain, the Ropecon belt can be fitted with cleats in order to stabilise the material on the belt. These components, too, originate from vertical conveying and allow for a transport of the material over inclines of up to 90°.

Ropecon can also be extended in line with the axis of the conveyor belt. As the open-pit mine grows and changes, the loading or discharge point can be adjusted flexibly along that axis to meet the new requirements. Additionally, under certain conditions, it is possible to discharge the material at several discharge points along the axis of the conveyor belt.

The greatest possible grain size along with the maximum conveying angle will determine the width of the flat belt, the height of the corrugated side walls, the height of the cleats and their spacing. Subject to certain conditions, Ropecon can handle lump sizes of up to 1,000 mm. In this case, there is no need to crush the material prior to transporting it out of the pit.

Another Solution

ContiTech is a multinational corporation with operations in almost all countries around the world. The company provides a wide range of conveyor belts and related products, longtime experience, comprehensive technical and project management expertise and technical solutions for all conveying issues. 

ContiTech produces a variety of high-quality products including steel cord belts, e.g. Stahlcord with a nominal breaking strength of up to 10,000 Newton per mm belt width or shortly N/mm (St10,000), and fabric belts, e.g. Contiflex with a nominal breaking strength of up to 4000 N/mm (EP4000/5). ContiTech is not only a belting manufacturer, but also a service and development partner for a variety of industrial branches, OEMs, mining, steel and energy companies. 

Conveying capacity, conveying speed, possible nominal breaking strength and required nominal breaking strength of the flat belt are the factors which determine the greatest possible vertical rise. The conveying speed is usually limited by the maximum grain size. High-strength flat belts with steel cord tension elements and nominal strength of more than 7800 N/mm are state-of-the-art.

Difficult terrains require conveyor systems that can easily negotiate complex infrastructural and geographical hurdles with many tight curves and extreme inclination angles. The conveying routes are frequently built more elevated in comparison to normal troughed conveyors in order to crossroads, rivers or other topografic obstacles and should nevertheless provide an environmentally friendly con veying route. 

ContiPipe, MegaPipe and Sicon conveyor belts with fabric and steel cord carcasses can negotiate tight curves. They are the perfect solution for complex infrastructural and geographical terrains, which may have center distances similar to common long-distance conveyors (10 km and more). With such closed-troughed conveyor belts the environment is reliably protected from the bulk material. 

Sicon is ideally suited for short and medium conveying routes and capacities, e.g. for routes inside or between plants with a maximum capacity of up to 500 m³/h at a conveying speed of up to 3 m/s. The main advantage of Sicon is its ability to negotiate very tight curves, which are significantly tighter than those ContiPipe can handle (e.g. 180° curves with a radius smaller than 1 m). Both technologies can be applied for inclination angles of up to 35° depending on the respective bulk material. 

MegaPipe, with an outer pipe diameter of up to 900 mm, has a maximum capacity of up to approx. 9,500 m³/h at conveying speeds of up to 6.5 m/s and can transport bulk materials with a maximum grain size of up to 350 mm directly after the primary crusher. 

In case of long-distance pipe conveyor systems (>1000 m) equipped with ContiPipe with the bottom cover made of Extra Low Loss XLL-rubber compound, the total energy consumption can be reduced up to 50%. 

Flame-Resistance

Conveying bulk materials with extremely high temperatures of up to +800°C or in environments with extremely low temperatures of up to –60°C puts man and machine under great stress. This is where maximum temperature resistance is required to ensure material (e.g. iron ore pellets) does not burn through the conveyor belt, thus enabling long operating time. 

ContiTech provides a wide range of steel cord and fabric conveyor belts with rubber compounds designed for very low or very high temperatures, e.g. for conveying hot ash at temperatures of up to +220 °C, oil or sands in Canada, or raw materials in northern parts of Russia at temperatures of down to -60 °C. 

For high-heat applications ContiTech’s belts Contiflex feature the heat-resistant rubber compound Vulcan Prime, basalt or glass layers and/or an innovative insulation Heat Control layer inside the top cover. Field tests at the manufacturing facilities of a Swedish iron ore supplier showed that these conveyor belts display excellent resistance to the high-heat bulk material. Contiflex IW/TW/SW heat-resistant conveyor belts have a Fleximat carcass made of a combination of fabric and steel cords, and represent an “intermediate” level between fabric and steel cord belts.  

Fire

Burn-offs have to be avoided in opencast as well as underground mines not only to save human lives, but also to prevent production downtimes and thus to protect investments. This is where flame-resistant equipment and fire-extinguishing features are required. 

ContiTech has developed, tested, certified and successfully applied flame-resistant and self-extinguishing conveyor belts. In the unlikely event that these do actually catch fire, they prevent fire propagation along the conveyor belt. This protects not only investments, but – most importantly – human lives. 

ContiTech conveyor belts made of rubber compounds adhere to the requirements of most national and all international standards (EN 12882, EN 14973, AS 4606, etc.), and are authorized by state mine supervisory administrations around the world, including MSHA (USA), UTS for underground applications (EU), RosTechNadzor (Russia), DPI (Australia). 

Reinforcements

Short and middle-distance belt conveyors in surface mining as well as conveyor belts used in heavy mining machinery at very high speeds are often particularly stressed by coarse and sharp-edged bulk material. Such heavy impacts can cause rips and cut throughs in the belts, thus causing cumbersome downtimes to carry out the necessary repairs. 

ContiTech has a variety of fabric, aramid and steelcord reinforcements (breakers), which can be incorporated in the top (carry side) cover of a conveyor belt. Stahlcor Barrier and Contiflex RipProtect with steel cord breakers in the cut-resistant rubber top cover provide the most cost-efficient protection against cut-through damages, carcass destruction and longitudinal belt rips for short and middle-distance conveyor belts or conveyor belts used in heavy mining machinery at very high speeds of up to 12 m/s. 

Contiflex IW/TW/SW belts with the Fleximat carcass can also be used as impact and cut-through resistant belts. Fleximat is a special carcass made of a combination of fabric and steel cords and takes an “intermediate” level between fabric and steel cord belts. 

ContitechIntelligent Diagnostics

Siemens and the automotive and industrial supplier Schaeffler are cooperating on intelligent diagnostics for drive systems. Through this collaboration Siemens combines its IIoT platform Sidrive IQ with Schaeffler’s decades of experience and expertise in designing, manufacturing, and servicing bearings. Sidrive IQ integrates a number of functionalities into one seamless solution and augments drive systems with AI-based analytics and digital content.

For the customer, this means the ability to make better decisions when it comes to operation, maintenance and maintenance measures for drive systems. Electric motors drive our core industrial processes, and the rolling bearing is their central mechanical component. Bearings experience all the loads and stresses that occur in the electric motor. Therefore, bearing diagnostics provide a crucial indicator of the overall condition and reliability of a motor.

The integration of Schaeffler’s analysis service for automated bearing diagnostics in Sidrive IQ makes it possible to determine the bearing condition with greater certainty and precision.

“This cooperation and automated exchange of algorithm-based diagnostic data is one of the first of its kind in the industrial IoT. It’s a great example of a new dimension of cooperation among established technology companies,” said Hermann Kleinod, CEO of Siemens Large Drives Applications.

“This partnership between Schaeffler and Siemens is based on a solid foundation of product knowledge and specific expertise. Both companies are playing an instrumental role in driving forward digitalization in the industry with their entire focus on customer value,” adds Dr. Stefan Spindler, CEO Industrial at Schaeffler AG.

With the help of well-founded insights and specific information, operators can quickly determine whether the drive system can continue to operate or whether, in the event of impending damage, the bearing needs to be replaced at the next maintenance interval or if it should be replaced immediately. This reduces the effort and cost of maintenance and most importantly: Unplanned and costly downtime can be prevented.

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