The engineering of belt conveyors to move bulk materials has changed little during the last 50 years. Granted, designers have computers to help design them, and new materials to use in building them, but the basic rules of thumb haven't changed much in this time. This "status quo" is still used in spite of the fact that virtually every requirement for safety, regulatory compliance and production performance has been raised in the same period.
As the saying goes, if you do what you have always done, you will get what you have always gotten. In the face of these changes in requirements (and the fact the requirements continue to change), a new approach to specifying, designing and purchasing belt conveyors is needed. It is time for new conveyor architecture.
The application of architecture
"Architecture" is the best term to describe this new design standard and methodology. It can be defined as the science and art of selecting and interconnecting components to create systems to meet functional, performance and cost goals. The time
A new priority of considerations that will rank the goals will be required. All design decisions are made based on this ranking.
The new hierarchy of design
This new design priority includes these ranked elements:
- Design capacity: The system must deliver the required (tons/hour) output. If a system cannot reliably achieve its throughput goals, then that system does not achieve its performance goals and is not suitable for the application.
- Safety: In the past, the approach to safety regulations has been to meet the minimum mandatory requirements. Now, most safety standards around the world are moving away from mandated minimums toward risk mitigation through risk analysis. The approach of the new conveyor architecture is to exceed the minimum mandated safety and incorporate technologies to make conveyors safer to operate and maintain.
- Cleanliness: The control of fugitive material through improved design should be a high priority. Simple design decisions, such as where to run utilities so they will not interfere with the ability to safely clean around a conveyor, should be carefully considered.
- Service-friendliness: A commitment to making it easy to reach, clean, adjust and repair components is essential to keeping a conveyor clean, safe and productive. Fundamentals such as the mounting of components on tracks for slide-in/slide-out maintenance, and systems that allow service from either side of the conveyor will simplify maintenance procedures.
- Cost effective: The general practice for procurement in industry is to find the lowest price. But lifetime cost should be as important. By keeping accurate records on the cost of operating, cleaning and maintaining systems, minor design changes that improve safety and reduce fugitive material can be justified. With minimal initial penalty, the basic conveyor system can be outfitted with components - some standard, some specialized - that make the system more affordable to operate, clean and maintain through the long term. More importantly, the designer should anticipate upgrades to components to solve specific problems that might occur. While it might not be cost-effective to include from the beginning every problem-solving component that could possibly be fit onto a conveyor, it is cost effective to provide the clearances and allocate the space for upgrades in the initial design.
- Upgradeable: Trying to upgrade an "old school" system is typically difficult and expensive. It often results in only minimal improvement in capacity or productivity, while increasing the generation of fugitive materials. The philosophy of new conveyor architecture is to anticipate at least one capacity increase of 10-15 percent during the system's initial specification.
|Go to Page 1 2 3|