The nature of operating environments presents a number of fire hazards. The dangerous nature of quarrying materials, the heavy equipment and vehicles used on-site and the remote location of many sites mean extra vigilance is required to help prevent and prepare for a fire.
In the era of health and mental wellness, downtime has so many positive connotations. However, in the cement industry, it is a downright negative concept. The cost of downtime at a cement plant can add up to as much as $AUD33,000 per hour – so you can see why the industry tries hard to avoid it.
You’re probably aware of many occurrences that result in downtime at a cement plant. Scheduled maintenance is just one reason an operation can come to a halt, but it’s necessary to ensure a belt conveyor system performs at an optimum level. It is also necessary to prevent catastrophic events from occurring such as a major belt rip or severe build-up of spillage that causes the belt to mis-track and cut into the structure.
To reduce the time you spend on scheduled maintenance takes careful planning and a level of financial investment. Here are some tips for ensuring you have an efficient belt conveyor system that allows you to shave time off your scheduled maintenance procedures:
1. Invest time and money wisely into systems that have easy to access replacement parts and are easy to maintain. Spending money on conveyor maintenance accessories can at times be costly, but investing in the right engineered system for a site could move downtime from hours to minutes.
2. Do your research into a product that makes installation and maintenance easy to understand. A product may promise to do everything you need it to, and it may deliver – but you don’t want to install it correctly after painstakingly pouring over the instruction manual for hours, and trying to put what seems like one of a million pieces together in the correct formation.
As an Australian heavy-duty specialist, I know about this dilemma all too well. I was part of a major overhaul where a site conveying dry concrete via a belt conveyor system was experiencing great difficulty maintaining its current system from a European manufacturer. The severe levels of spillage also resulted in a loss of profit due to wasted and unsellable aggregate material. In addition, the spillage caused a material build-up on one side of the conveyor belt, causing the belt to mis-track and damage the soft skirt and also the conveyor structure.
However, the biggest challenge was the unnecessary maintenance hours required to maintain this system. To replace high wear items such as a soft skirt, the user had to remove unnecessary parts of the conveyor first, which meant a huge loss in productivity. Realistically, the task should have been simple.
As soon as the complex system was replaced with a Flexco enclosed skirt system, which was engineered to be simple and easy to install, the site saw great results. In addition to ease of installation, the design’s simplicity meant production time no longer had to be compromised to complete maintenance tasks such as soft skirt change-outs and adjustments. The system also incorporated easily adjustable hard skirts for longer wearing side panels.
3. Constant optimisation. Technology is constantly progressing in all facets of our lives. This is no different for conveyor belt systems. Technology just looks different in the cement industry. It comes in the form of well-engineered, easy to use and effective products. While conveyors are built to last, to get the most out of the system you should constantly be looking for ways to upgrade parts that are fast becoming ineffective. Don’t wait until it’s too late and the system has caused mass amounts of chaos, needing hours upon hours of service and maintenance to get back up and running to a sub-par standard. Invest resources into constant optimisation so that you can not only reach but exceed your throughput goals.
Flexco offers free belt conveyor assessments as a way to ensure that your system performs at an optimum and quarry producers get as much product out the door as possible to reach productivity goals. To register for a free on-site assessment, visit the Flexco website. •
Sebastian Olguin is a heavy-duty field specialist at Flexco Australia.