Page 73 - Hub-4 Magazine Issue 76
P. 73

 Managing Conveyor Belt Carryback
“Carryback” is defined as the material that fails to unload from a conveyor belt, adhering to the belt and typically falling off at some point other than the intended discharge, and it’s one of the main sources of fugitive materials, estimated to account for 85% of all conveyor maintenance issues. Accumulation on moving components from dirty belts can cause premature wear and require frequent cleanup, which exposes workers to potential workplace injuries and respiratory diseases.
It can be shown practically and theoretically that a conveyor belt cannot be cleaned 100%, because the surface of the belt and the blades are not without imperfections. However, this doesn’t mean operators shouldn’t take a proactive approach to keeping the belt clean. Most industries have gravitated to basic mechanical scraping with a metal or elastomeric blade for flat rubber or PVC belting as the best combination of effectiveness, ease of maintenance and low belt wear to yield the lowest cost of ownership.
Belt Cleaners
Belt cleaning effectiveness varies day to day with changing conditions and the number and type of cleaners applied, as well as the maintenance they receive. Keeping the material in the process is always better than letting it accumulate on components and build up under the conveyor. Without effective belt cleaning, experience has shown that as much as 3% of the total cargo can be lost due to spillage, dust and carryback.
The exposure to hazards and injuries is also reduced when less cleanup is required, saving significant -- but seldom considered -- indirect costs. The key to consistent cleaning effectiveness is to control the process through proper selection, installation, inspection and maintenance of the belt cleaning system and establish a safe cleanup routine and schedule.
The use of multiple mechanical scrapers on a belt has been accepted for quite some time as an effective cleaning approach. In most operations, multiple cleaners are required to reduce the carryback to a safe, acceptable level while limiting manual cleanup to weekly or even monthly tasks.
Effectiveness vs. Efficiency
The undulating action of the loaded belt passing over idlers tends to cause fines and moisture to migrate and compact on the surface of the belt. The amount of carryback that clings to the belt can range from a few grams to a few kilograms per square meter. The level of belt cleaning required is a function of the operational schedule and method of collecting / disposing of the carryback that is cleaned from the belt or dislodged by return idlers and collects outside of the conveyor discharge chute.
When discussing the efficiency of a belt cleaner, it’s meaningless to talk about efficiency without stating the initial level of carryback. When considering the beginning and ending levels of carryback as a measure of improvement, effectiveness is a better term. Some guidelines do exist. The U.S. Bureau of Mines states that an average of 100 g/m2 of carryback is a reasonable level of performance for belt cleaning. At this level, a 1200 mm (48-inch) wide belt traveling 2 m/s and operating 24/7 would create a cleanup workload of about 7 tons per day, a significant labor investment that also increases worker exposure to a moving conveyor and the associated risks.
Carryback level determines the cleanup schedule, but in reality, a typical belt cleaner loses effectiveness over time due to wear, lack of inspection and maintenance. On systems with average or poor maintenance, effectiveness values are generally in the range of 40-60%, thus the need for multiple cleaners.
Cleaning Location
Unfortunately, designers often focus on the lowest installed cost of the structure around the head and snub pulleys, without allowing enough space for optimum cleaner installation. The figure below shows the clear areas needed on a discharge chute for installation of belt cleaners in the optimum positions. The installations should be at an ergonomic height above the work platform to encourage proper inspection and service. Consideration in the design stage for locating cleaners in the optimum locations will lead to more effective inspections, maintenance and belt cleaner performance.
 Belt cleaning positions
Belt cleaners can be placed anywhere along the return run of the belt, as long as the belt is supported in some fashion. Since it’s desirable for the carryback cleaned from the belt to be returned to the main material flow, most belt cleaners are installed inside the discharge chute. Cleaning on the head pulley -- labeled the ‘primary cleaning position’ -- is preferred. Cleaning the dirty side of the belt before it reaches a snub, bend pulley or return idlers is considered less desirable, requiring a dribble chute for cleaners in the secondary position.
Typical installation of primary, secondary and tertiary cleaners
The secondary position is complicated by another fact: the nature of carryback is such that it can adhere to vertical Sept/October 22 - Issue 76
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