Could Horizontal Conveyor Considerations Be The Future

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Dr Andreas Echelmeyer discusses transporting material efficiently over long distances with curved belt conveyors

How can mining companies make their operations more sustainable to reduce their environmental footprints? One element that can be perfectly adapted to match the conditions is the efficient transport of the mined material. Here, overland conveyors that can move large quantities of material over long distances are required.

Beumer Group installed its first overland conveyor with horizontal curves as early as 1969. Since then, calculation methods and components such as idlers, belts and drives have undergone constant development, resulting in the implementation of increasingly efficient conveying systems for routes that are often complex. Mine operators can use Beumer curved troughed belt and pipe belt conveyors to transport raw materials over routes with steep inclines and narrow curve radii. “We can exactly match our systems to the required conveying task and topography,” says Dr Kilian Neubert at Beumer Group. “We rely on advanced planning tools to provide our customers with an efficient, sustainable and cost-effective material flow.”

The Fundamentals Of Modern Conveying Systems

No two conveying systems are alike, even if the primary task of transporting bulk material from A to B appears comparable. “We must adapt the components and the system to the material to be conveyed,” says Neubert. “The mass flow to be conveyed and height differences that need to be overcome over the length of the conveyor line are important factors that we must address when designing a system.”

The Right Layout

“We use our Overland Layouting tool to ascertain the ideal layout for the system,” says Neubert. “It generates a digital 3D model of the conveyor in the virtual landscape during project planning, more or less automatically.” The critical topography data can either be provided by customers, or drones are used to capture terrain data. “These 3D visualisations are also ideal for supporting mining companies in their PR relations work,” explains Neubert. Important factors such as ‘cut and fill’ volumes, i.e. the necessary excavation work and the required steel structures for the conveyor, can be evaluated and illustrated on this basis. “This procedure considerably accelerates the project planning process and enables us to provide project-critical data to the customer at an early stage of the project,” says Neubert.

Ongoing Development

The 1990s saw the company start its development into one of today’s leading suppliers of pipe conveyors. In these systems, the idlers form the belt into a closed pipe that protects the material to be transported against external influences and the environment from emissions such as dust and odours. This conveying solution is, therefore, ideally suited for fine bulk materials such as ore concentrates. Pipe conveyors also allow tighter curve radii and greater angles of inclination compared with conventional troughed belt conveyors.

However, what if bulk material with large grain sizes requires a larger pipe diameter? The rule of thumb here is that the pipe diameter should be about three times the maximum grain size. To solve this problem, Beumer Group developed the U-shape conveyor. “This variant combines the advantages of a troughed belt conveyor with those of a pipe conveyor,” says Neubert. The idlers form the belt into a U-shape rather than a pipe. The U-shape conveyor enables tighter curve radii than a troughed belt conveyor and higher mass flows than a pipe conveyor. It also protects the conveyed material from environmental influences and the environment from material loss and emissions.

Dr Andreas Echelmeyer is with Beumer Group

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