The team at Rema Tip Top Technologies (RTT Technologies) is constantly developing new systems in their efforts to prolong the service life of conveyor belts. “Bulk Handling Today” meets up with Keith Rice, a director of RTT Technologies, which although part of the Rema Tip Top Group, is a proudly South African company.
“Conveyor belts are the backbone of most operations and as such, our systems have been designed to deliver utmost efficiency,” says Keith. “Downtime costs money. We aspire to not only prolonging the life of a conveyor belt but also maximising the profitability and sustainability of a conveying system.”
It’s about peace of mind, he says. “We accept full responsibility for the maintenance of the conveyor belt, allowing the client to focus his or her attention on their core functions.”
The company has invested heavily in the development of new technologies making it a leader in the field of conveyor belt maintenance and service. With a range of products available that extends the service life of industrial equipment, it’s ultimately about meeting customer’s needs, explains Keith.
“Ours is not a one-size-fits-all approach but one that’s designed to keep each and every one of our customers’ operations at peak efficiency.”
RFID belt rip detection
The latest RFID technology has given rise to advanced monitoring which has taken the market by storm. “There are several technologies available using RFID in tagging systems,” adds Hannes Wakeford, the company’s technical director.
“Our system, however, costs a fraction of conventional antenna sensor loops not only allowing us to offer clients significant savings, but we are also able to install our RFID antennas at intervals of 15 metres on the conveyor belt as opposed to the traditional intervals of around 50 or 100 metres.”
The system protects all kinds of conveyor belts be they steelcord, plied belting or PVC. Because antennae are installed at shorter intervals, greater protection minimises damage caused by longitudinal rips within the belt. The system also automatically stops the belt when rips are detected.
“One of the biggest advantages is that it can be retrofitted to existing belting. Not only does the system detect our unique RFID antennas but also other inductive sensor loops, making it extremely versatile,” says Hannes.
In addition, the software generates a map of the entire belt after only one full revolution.
Belt Thickness Monitoring System (BTM)
This system, the only one of its kind in the world, continiously measures the wear characteristics on conveyor belts using ultrasonic technology to measure the thickness of the conveyor belt while in operation. This minimises downtime significantly.
This system also makes use of RFID tags that allow the software to pinpoint any damage on the belt comparing it with historical data of the belt and calculating when specific areas on the belt will become critical and need attention.
“Monitoring a belt to this extent allows the customer to plan properly for belt replacements and maintenance shutdowns,” explains Keith. “Through planning, major cost savings can be made. All of the systems also have zero contact with the belt and can be used on new or used belts.”
Steel cord scanning system
Hannes maintains that this monitoring system provides the world’s most accurate and reliable detection of broken cables and conveyor belt splices – all in realtime.
“Being modular, it can scan conveyor belts of any width while in operation. It’s also easy to install with little maintenance necessary.”
As for belt rip detection, scanning shows all damage to the belt carcass and the steel cords, immediately. “Again this technology results in a cost saving to the client who can manage his system better,” adds Keith. The highly advanced technology allows for such detailed scanning that the client can determine whether only a few strands are coming apart or if the belt is at risk of a complete break.
“We’ve also developed a special reporting system that is easily understandable and user friendly which accurately pinpoints problem areas. This kind of accuracy also goes a long way towards saving time which ultimately saves cost.”
Belt misalignment system
The use of ultrasonic sensors means that the system monitors – without touching and causing abrasive damage to the belt – whether the conveyor is misaligned or not, explains Paul Nel, global product manager for M3 (Monitor, Manage, and Maintain), a product offering by Rema that goes beyond monitoring the condition of conveyor belting.
“The system detects if the belt is running to one side, indicating that somewhere there is a cause that needs to be addressed. The goal is early detection that allows one to stop and address the issue immediately, avoiding potential costly long-term damage.”
The different systems can be implemented together or individually, depending on client requirements. “The goal of this approach is a change from passive to active downtime management. Through careful monitoring and management of a conveyor belt system, using these advanced technologies, successful long term planning can take place, allowing for better efficiency and cost savings. And, once installed, the system cannot be bypassed,” Keith concludes.