Power Generation Sorts Out Conveyor Issues

A cement manufacturer in the Midwestern USA has implemented a power solution at a remote conveyor location that lacked convenient electrical access. The patent-pending design uses the kinetic energy of the moving belt to generate enough electricity to drive an automated dust suppression system, a pneumatic belt cleaner tensioner and a series of air cannons.

This system is helping operators at the Illinois Cement Plant (USA) reduce fugitive dust and spillage, increase cargo flow efficiency and minimise labour costs for cleaning and maintenance.

The Martin Roll Gen system is designed to create a self-contained mini power station that allows operators to run electrical monitoring systems, safety devices and a variety of other components.

“Running auxiliary power can be both complicated and costly, requiring expensive labour and oversized cables to accommodate the inevitable voltage drop over long runs, as well as transformers, conduit, junction boxes and other components,” comments Andrew Timmerman, Product Development Engineer at Martin Engineering.

The long ride
Conveyor 107-1 is the longest outdoor conveyor system on the Illinois Cement site, running 182m and discharging either onto the 107-2 stack-out conveyor or the 75 metre long belt leading directly into the plant, based upon immediate production needs Material arriving from the quarry can be either wet, dry and dusty or anything in between, depending on the season and weather. The changing work environment presented challenges throughout the entire conveying system, with different weather conditions triggering various types of carryback.

Cleanup was labour-intensive.“The primary cleaner blades we had in place wore quickly, causing spillage that required us to take personnel from other areas to clean the buildup,” explains Illinois Cement Maintenance Planner, Brian Brandner.

“We were out there cleaning or adjusting the tension to minimise spillage a few times a week.” Phase one of the solution involved placing a ‘smart’ dust suppression system at the transfer point between the 153 and 107-1 conveyors. Phase two included an automated, pneumatically-tensioned belt cleaner and air cannon system at 107-1’s discharge zone. Both components are powered by the Roll Gen System.

To manage the dust, technicians installed a Martin Surfactant Dust System at the transfer point between 153 and 170-1 to deliver a chemically-enhanced water spray as a topical treatment for material at the point of emission.

Cleaning the belt
Close to the mid-point of the system, conveyor 107-1 begins a gradual 6m rise and discharges into the transfer chute leading either to the stackout conveyor feeding the storage area or the main conveyor entering the plant. At that transfer point, technicians installed a Martin QC1 Primary Cleaner XHD (extra heavy duty) tensioned with an Automated Blade System (ABS).

Connected to a small 24V DC air compressor and a control panel powered by the Roll Gen, the ABS pneumatic tensioner delivers precise monitoring and tensioning to reduce the labour typically required to maintain optimum blade pressure through manual adjustment.

Upon detection of an empty belt, the system is set to run for one full belt rotation to clean the surface thoroughly before pulling away.

Transfer chute flow
While monitoring the results of the installation, Martin Engineering technicians observed that the decreased spillage resulted in a proportional increase in fines discharged down the transfer chute. Exposed to the outside environment, the chute began to form significant buildup along the sides, at the diverter gate and on the internal shelf meant to slow the flow of material. The technicians had a solution to this unexpected result, and to mitigate the buildup, they installed a Martin Hurricane air cannon.

“When there’s cargo flowing, the cannon fires about every ten minutes, which keeps fines from clinging to the walls and promotes proper flow,” Brian adds.

Results
The use of multiple technologies working in tandem to control material flow and prevent fugitive particles has dramatically improved the material handling system’s efficiency.

The modifications have helped Illinois Cement reduce labour and equipment expenses, considerably cutting the manpower needed to clean spillage along the conveyor path. The result is a cleaner, safer and more productive operation.

Martin Engineering
Rick Felde, Tel: (541) 306-4815
Email: rickf@martin-eng.com, www.martin-eng.com