Conveyor protects the environment during fish feed transport

Paul Boughton

Salmon farms have gained acceptance for the controlled farming of salmon in Norwegian fjords. The fish are fed with feed pellets, which largely consist of pressed fishmeal. These pellets are transported to salmon farms on special ships. If the pellets are shaken or rubbed together during transport, pellet erosion takes place and fine particles become loose. If these then sink and settle on the seabed, the result is overgrowth of algae and a negative impact on the water.

Suppliers therefore try to transport fish feed carefully and attentively. In order to protect the feed and at the same time prevent the fine particles from escaping, the engineering and contractor company GRAINTEC has been using the closed SICON belt conveyor system from ContiTech for a salmon farm in Norway for several years now. Four ships are currently equipped with the system, and SICON is also used for loading the ships. Plans to equip another ship are also on the horizon.

The SICON conveyor belt system with its closed form is particularly suitable for transporting sensitive materials. The conveyor belt remains closed from the feeding point to the discharge point. It can negotiate small-radius bends with ease, rendering transfer stations superfluous. Extreme gradients can also be handled without a problem thanks to the SICON system. As the belt is also closed on the return side, it completely eliminates dust pollution and soiling of the conveyor system due to spillage. The conveyed material is therefore fully protected, and environmental damage avoided.

The SICON conveyor belt consists of two fabric-reinforced profiles, each with a vulcanised-in steel cord as tensile member. The profiles run over the roller sets and carry a pouch containing the material being handled. This teardrop-shaped pouch consists of highly flexible rubber and is bonded to the profiles via hot vulcanisation. As the profiles lie above one another during the conveying operation, the belt is closed to form a dust-tight system. The conveyor system is capable of transporting bulk materials on both the forward and the return run. The roller sets supporting and guiding the belt can be arranged side by side or vertically. System routing can also easily be made circular. Another advantage is the belt's self-cleaning properties: At the discharge point, two discs guide the profiles of the opened SICON conveyor belt. Bulk material residue is loosened and removed by the resulting flexing movement of the slightly troughed conveyor belt.

The advantages of the SICON closed belt conveyor system are fully evident on ships used by the fish industry. Its closed construction shields the pellets from environmental influences. Due to its ability to negotiate bends with radii of less than one meter and inclines with angles up to 35°, SICON can achieve the required routing configurations even in the tightest of spaces, and without the need for transfer stations. Thus, it is currently the only belt conveyor system capable of transporting the fish feed pellets without a transfer station. Furthermore, SICON conveys the fish feed pellets with extra care, since the belt cushions and settles the conveyed material at the feeding point, due to its elasticity.

When used on ships in the fish feed industry and at the loading station, the conveyor belts also have to have a certain resistance to fish oil, since this is contained in the fish feed. For this purpose, ContiTech has developed a special rubber compound based on an acrylonitrile butadiene rubber compound (NBR). The SICON conveyor belt system is therefore ideally suited to the requirements of the animal feed industry.

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