Changing technology: The advancement of belt conveyor products

In the aggregates industry, belt conveyor products have evolved to meet the needs of the styles of conveyor belting, to minimise downtime and to provide a safer environment for workers.

Many of the major changes to belt conveyors within the aggregates industry can be credited to businesses and manufacturers looking at belt conveyor systems in a holistic manner. Instead of looking at the belt conveyor and conveyor components as separate entities, manufacturers and businesses began to look at them in terms of compatibility.

{{image2-a:r-w:250}}Conveyor audits, sessions in which businesses brought in outside resources to view the entire system, were conducted and challenges were addressed and fixed. When new products were installed and existing products were maintained as a result of these valuable audits, the question became: ?How much money are we losing with each passing hour that our system is down for maintenance??

Keeping that question in mind, manufacturers began thinking more about maintenance and installation during the product design process. Some manufacturers even made it their priority to make installation and maintenance a key design consideration and a key selling point.
Along those same lines, they also took a look at product compatibility, stressing that products should be designed with the whole system in mind and should function accordingly.

With these thoughts in mind, one of the most important advancements in the aggregates industry was developed. The rivet solid plate fastener was designed specifically for straight warp carcass belting.

With the rivet solid plate fastener system, staggered, multi-point attachments penetrate between carcass fibres without severing them, delivering long-lasting holding ability in even the most demanding high tension applications.

The smaller rivet solid plate fastener is even designed for use on small pulley diameters. It offers the same benefits as a larger bolt-style fastener and is more cost-effective.

In most cases, these fasteners are designed for fast, simple installation, requiring only a hammer and portable tool to align and drive in the rivets.

While the products already have a low profile, skiving of the belt is always recommended to make the fasteners and other conveyor components more compatible.

Belt trainers can also be key to keeping a belt conveyor system running. Often, belt mistracking issues are not simply caused by material build-up, in which case the addition of a cleaner would be a solution. Sometimes, they are caused by a wrongly installed belt splice, or even damage to the structure itself. After looking at the entire system to determine the cause of the mistracking, often a belt trainer may be the most effective and efficient way to rectify the problem.

A variety of belt trainers are available for the aggregates market, with the most efficient being the ones that provide ?pivot and tilt? technology. These trainers apply greater belt tracking discipline than conventional pivot-only or wobbler-style belt-steering devices, correcting even the most stubborn tracking problems on medium tension belts.


One thing often overlooked is maintaining the equipment that sustains the system. Belt cleaners are just one of the many conveyor accessories that keep your system running smoothly. Often, cleaner blades can be heavy and cumbersome for an operator to remove and replace. Recently developed quick-change blades have made replacing blades faster and easier to install.

{{image3-a:l-w:300}}Quick-change blades slide out from the accessible side of the conveyor or chute wall for inspection, service or replacement by a single worker in a matter of minutes. Blade cartridges are removed and can be changed without removing the complete assembly pole or brackets from the conveyor. This feature allows workers to replace multiple blade cartridges during the same maintenance period, saving time and money. The cartridges can also be easily rebuilt on-site.

Another common belt conveyor product that has been fine-tuned for easier maintenance is the impact bed. Impact beds are designed to deaden the impact energy, to reduce reaction force for less rebound and material degradation and to protect the belt from impact damage. Of course, the impact bed does not provide that kind of strength and protection without being a heavier piece of equipment. In the past, servicing an impact bed could take a considerable amount of time. With the newest technology, many of these beds now separate in the middle, allowing the two sides to slide apart and out. This option provides direct access to all the bars and bolts for quick, easy and
safe maintenance.

Ensuring workers have the best possible equipment to safely install and maintain these systems is nothing new. But equipment advancements have made safety better. Where knives were once used to cut and skive belts, belt cutters and skivers have been developed, providing a much higher level of accuracy and providing quick, safe usability.

Belt lifters are now commonly used in situations where tensioned belts need to be lifted in a safe and easy manner. And where securing a belt used to be the job of two-by-fours and chains, dedicated tools such as heavy duty belt clamps are now used for safer belt repair.
The weight of belt conveyor components and accessories is also considered when addressing worker safety. In some cases, the switch to aluminium has made many pieces of equipment much lighter, while more ergonomic processes for maintenance (such as the slide-out cartridges mentioned previously) have proven to limit worker injury.

The future of belt conveyor products in the aggregates industry is rock solid. Products are constantly being developed and produced to increase efficiency and productivity. And less time at the belt conveyor means more time to focus on other parts of your operation.

Chip Winiarski is the marketing director of Flexco USA.

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