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Two versions of the KAMMP device (pictured) have been installed on conveyors 1 and 7 of Kulnura Quarry’s crushing, screening and conveying circuit.
Two versions of the KAMMP device (pictured) have been installed on conveyors 1 and 7 of Kulnura Quarry’s crushing, screening and conveying circuit.

KAMMP: A simple yet effective conveyor belt solution

A quarrying operation devises a novel solution for detecting and removing tramp metal.

The IQA’s Excellence in Innovation Award, sponsored by Trimble Aggregates, recognises an individual’s contribution to excellence and innovation in the quarrying industry. The contribution can be for innovation in design, production, operations, automation, plant design, maintenance or processes as a single event – or for a long- term contribution.

The 2018 award went to Malcolm Sawers and Michael Benic, the maintenance supervisor and former quarry manager respectively, of the Hanson Construction Materials Kulnura Quarry, 80km north of Sydney, and about 30km from Gosford, on the New South Wales Central Coast.

Hanson Kulnura Quarry extracts and processes basalt, which is then crushed into blue metal in quantities of 10mm and 20mm to make concrete aggregate, principally for Sydney’s concrete market and also internally for Hanson’s local concrete operations. The plant at Kulnura Quarry has an annual output of about two million tonnes.

It was the second consecutive year that the quarry has collected the Excellence in Innovation Award. In 2017, night shift supervisor Stephen Raines won the award for his development of a laser module to cast a bright green line on the ground that enabled night time operators to correctly reverse their haul trucks to receive loads from the front-end loader at the face. This reduced prolonged cycle times and enabled the haul truck drivers to undertake up to four load trips per hour.

Detecting tramp metal

In 2018, the award was presented for another exclusive yet simple solution to a common problem that plagues all quarries: the adequate detection of metal contaminants – such as wear and tear components, bits and bolts dislodged from bucket teeth or drill heads – that circulate within the conveyor system and can enter and cause damage to crushers and other plant.

Most quarries will have metal detectors installed on a conveyor; the belt will come to a stop once the tramp metal is identified. The operator will then have to move along the conveyor walkway, searching for the metal on the belt and sifting through the rocks by hand until it is found. This can be no easy task if the belt has travelled an extra 10 to 20 metres before it is brought to a stop. At night or in low light periods, this task is even more laborious, and the metal may not be found at all.

The mixture of paint and water is drawn from a pressurised 20-litre canister (right) beside the conveyor and the adjacent control box.
The mixture of paint and water is drawn from a pressurised 20-litre canister (right) beside the conveyor and the adjacent control box.

Magnets are sometimes used as a solution to detecting and capturing tramp metal, but they are not always reliable and, in turn, can be an expensive and complex investment. As Malcolm Sawers explained, “What we found with the magnet is that if there is tramp metal sitting under large rocks on the conveyor, they will just go past the magnet. The magnet just doesn’t have the power to pull out the metal from under those larger rocks.”

Sawers has worked at Kulnura Quarry for nearly 30 years. He started as an apprentice in 1990 and has worked in a variety of roles. Today, he is the maintenance supervisor, overseeing the good condition and upkeep of the site’s fixed and mobile processing plant, and its earthmoving equipment. Although he has been in his current role for about 20 months, he was convinced there had to be a simpler, better way to reduce the downtime on tramp metal on the conveyor belt.

“I said one day, ‘There has to be some sort of system to mark the area, like a paint …’ It was just an idea! I would have thought somebody else had already designed something that we could install but when I started looking around there was nothing out there on the market. There are other systems which drop a beanbag but we thought of something simple – just mark the location and keep on going.”

Sawers and Benic discussed a solution and the logistics required to put a system in place. The end result of these deliberations was the Kulnura Automatic Metal Marking Paint – or KAMMP.

KAMMP is essentially a device that dispenses paint whenever metal is sensed on the belt, accurately marking the position where the metal has been detected as the belt is brought to a halt. It has been installed on conveyors 1 and 7 of Kulnura Quarry’s crushing, screening and conveying circuit.

The operator can then look up and down the belt for paint marks; where paint marks are present, the metal will be in the vicinity and can be found and removed. KAMMP can also detect multiple instances of metal; in the past, metal detectors might stop the belt for one piece of stray metal but fail to detect other pieces on the belt.

The paint – described by Sawers as a “rock coding ink” – is sold in pressurised 20-litre canisters in a variety of colours. His maintenance team has tested the ink in pink, which is better captured by night lights, and white during the day. They have used up one canister in the first 12 to 14 months. Sawers and his team have also experimented with a fluorescent paint for night work.

While only one worker was required to scour the conveyor belt for tramp metal before the installation of KAMMP, Sawers said it was not a good use of that worker’s time and energy. “It was just the amount of time. A worker has to try to extrapolate where the metal could be and then go quite a distance up and down the belt to find the metal. KAMMP has cut down the time frame significantly, so the operator will walk up there, work out the location reasonably quickly and find the material.”

According to the submission for the Excellence in Innovation Award from Hanson, it was estimated that prior to the installation of KAMMP, it could take an operator up to three minutes at a time to locate tramp metal. Over a year, the metal detection stops and manual picking would accumulate to downtime of 89 hours.

Now that KAMMP is active, it is estimated that an operator can usually find the metal within 20 to 40 seconds – with a near 100 per cent success rate. This has reduced the downtime by nearly two-thirds – to a mere 30 hours per year – and promises an extra 60 hours (or almost three days) of crushing time per year. In particular, KAMMP has reduced the amount of metal stops in the secondary plant because metal is being located more frequently in the primary plant and taken out of the processing circuit much earlier.

In the bargain, 60 hours of extra crushing time equates to $300,000 more product per annum – all from a paint marking innovation that cost Kulnura Quarry about $6300 to install.

“After we installed the system and started monitoring the amount of downtime, it definitely opened our eyes, especially with the amount of time saved,” Sawers said of the small investment. “KAMMP is relatively inexpensive, compared to other options in the industry.”

Michael Benic (left) and Malcolm Sawers (right) are presented with the IQA’s innovation award by Trimble’s Dale Cameron (centre).
Michael Benic (left) and Malcolm Sawers (right) are presented with the IQA’s innovation award by Trimble’s Dale Cameron (centre).

Morale boost

In turn, KAMMP has, in reducing the manual handling required of operators, had safety benefits. Fewer metal stops and reduced time on the conveyor catwalk decreases the possibility of serious trip hazards, exposure to the elements (eg skin protection from the sun in summer, and also risk of injury from cold, rain and wind, particularly at night, in the winter).

In turn, Kulnura Quarry has credited KAMMP with raising the morale of the operators who have been responsible for detecting metal on the conveyors – they know they will have a near certain chance of locating the metal and spending considerably less time in the open looking and sifting through rock on the belt.

“We have had positive feedback from everyone,” Sawers said. “It’s made the operators’ lives a lot easier, and amongst our maintenance team. We haven’t had to do any upkeep with the system, it’s all been very reliable.”

According to Hanson’s submission for the Excellence in Innovation Award, KAMMP has the potential to be implemented more widely in the quarrying and concrete sectors. “Whilst primarily it would work best for quarries there are benefits for it in other manufacturing processes, especially when needing to detect and find metal is critical,” the submission read.

Sawers said Hanson has discussed installing KAMMP at other operations. “I’m not sure if anyone else has it in place as of yet but there’s still talk with some of the other quarries,” he said.

Award recipients

Sawers and Benic were nominated for the IQA’s Excellence in Innovation Award, supported by Trimble. Dale Cameron, the Australia/ New Zealand sales manager of Trimble Aggregates, presented the award to them at CMIC 18 in Sydney last September.

“We were happy to be nominated,” Sawers said. “Mick Benic thought it was definitely a good idea – but sitting in the IQA conference and hearing your name being called out for winning the Innovation Award in front of a lot of your peers was very exciting.

“I had no idea that we would win the award. I was ecstatic, it was very exciting to be recognised for something like that, and hearing all the feedback from a lot of colleagues and other people in the business.”

In addition to a trophy, the award offers Sawers the opportunity to undertake a study tour for continuing professional development purposes. He said he still has to decide exactly where and when he will go. “I’ve been talking with Trimble and some other suppliers about what other conferences are happening around the world and how I can get the most benefit out of it.”

Sawers encourages fellow IQA members to apply for the IQA Awards in 2019. He also believes his industry peers should not be afraid to suggest ideas for the improvement of processes and systems at their sites.

“Sometimes the simplest things can really make a difference,” Sawers said, summing up what a great innovation KAMMP has been for Hanson Kulnura. “Try to put forward your ideas, get support from your management team, get them behind your idea. Don’t be afraid to put your ideas forward.”

For more information about the 2019 IQA Awards, and how to apply for an award or nominate a peer, visit, click on ‘Networking’ and then ‘Awards’.

Damian Christie
Editor • Quarry Magazine

Damian Christie is the editor and a chief writer of Quarry magazine. To contact Damian, please click here.
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Wednesday, 18 September, 2019 9:01am
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