UNDERSTANDING AND EXTENDING THE LIFE OF YOUR CONVEYOR COMPONENTS
A mining conveyor, or any other conveyor used for moving rock, ore, or aggregate, represents a substantial investment. It needs to work hard and stoppages for maintenance or repairs are expensive. West River Conveyors engineers conveyor systems for the harsh environments they’ll be placed into, but there’s no avoiding wear and the need to replace mining conveyor belt components periodically.
Prolonging the life of major components reduces downtime and repair work, which leads to savings all around. As experts in conveyors for moving rock and aggregate, West River has the experience to advise on the most cost-effective ways of extending component life.
MINING CONVEYOR BELT COMPONENTS
In addition to the structure, which shouldn’t suffer much wear, the main mining conveyor belt components to consider for extending their lifespan include:
- Rollers & Idlers
- Power Modules/Motors
- Transfer Chutes & Rock Boxes
- Conveyor Belts
Each of these has a typical or expected lifespan, which can be shortened through particularly hard use, and extended by careful component selection and ongoing maintenance. Check out our Daily and Periodic Maintenance for Conveyors and Parts Guide.
ROLLERS & IDLERS
A typical conveyor could have hundreds or thousands of these roller assemblies supporting the belt along its length. The main parts of an idler are the bearings at each end and the shell the belt rides on. Bearing problems increase the load on the motor, which raises energy costs and reduces belt life. This can be avoided by staying on top of idler maintenance.
The biggest issue with idler bearings is the pitting of the raceway. This is caused by shock loads and grit or dirt contamination.
L10 life (the time after which 10% of the bearings will fail,) of quality idler bearings is usually 50,000 hours or 5-7 years. However, this depends on the environment, belt speed, and belt cleanliness. To extend bearing life:
- Run the belt slower (understanding that this might not be practical)
- Use bearings fit for the environment (dust-excluding seals are prerequisites)
- Lubricate properly
The biggest cause of shell wear is the impact of a dirty belt. Shells should last 7-10 years but less if belt scrapers aren’t properly adjusted and maintained.
With regular lubrication and replacement of lagging, pulleys should last 10 years or more. Centralized lubrication systems are available but many belt operators find pressurized grease containers on zerk fittings more cost-effective.
Lagging protects the pulley shell from damage and increases friction at the drive pulley. Rubber is often used, generally with a smooth finish on non-drive pulleys and a grooved or herringbone pattern on the drive.
Lagging typically needs replacing after 3-5 years of use. Keeping belt scrapers functioning correctly helps reduce wear but for longer life, the best option is to install ceramic lagging. Ceramic lagging is particularly effective when conveying abrasive material, simply because it’s harder wearing.
Ceramic lagging takes various forms. It’s available with a smooth surface or dimpled for additional friction, and bonded to rubber or bonded directly onto the pulley shell.
POWER MODULE & GEARBOX
The power module is a combination of the motor and gearbox. It’s an expensive unit and it makes sense to extend its life as much as possible. Cared for correctly, it should provide 20 years or more of service.
The biggest factor in achieving and exceeding this life is proper lubrication. This begins with the first fluid change which should be performed after two weeks of use. After the initial break-in period, change the oil every 2,500 hours of service. This would be every four months if it’s running 24×7.
At every oil change, drain the reducer and flush with kerosene. Remember to clean the magnetic drain plug before refilling to the correct level with a new lubricant of the grade/viscosity specified by the gearbox manufacturer.
Though often neglected, scrapers play an important role in extending the life of mining conveyor belt components. When correctly adjusted, the scraper keeps the belt clean, which minimizes shocks to and wear of idlers and pulleys.
Scrapers take many forms but most need periodic adjustment of tension or load on the belt. Too much increases belt wear and drive friction while too little leaves material on the belt. Your scraper manufacturer can advise on the optimum settings.
TRANSFER CHUTES/ROCK BOXES
Rock boxes, and to a lesser extent, transfer chutes, are expected to wear in use. For this reason, rock boxes are usually lined with sacrificial material that needs replacing periodically.
From the perspective of extended belt component life, the most important factor with rock boxes and transfer chutes is proper alignment over the belt. Material should be deposited into the center of the belt and not to one side. Correct deposition helps extend the life of the belt and the idlers.
The heart of the conveyor system, although it couldn’t function without the aforementioned components, the belt should provide at least three years of service. Key factors influencing belt life are speed, length, loading, and strength.
Click here for more detail on these and additional life-extending tips.
Belt structure and covers should always be appropriate to the material being conveyed. An experienced conveyor manufacturer like West River Conveyors can help you choose what is best for your application.
GET EXPERT HELP WITH MINING CONVEYOR BELT COMPONENTS WHILE SAVING MONEY
Proper care and maintenance of a conveyor do carry a cost, but it’s usually insignificant when compared against the expense of unplanned downtime. Prolonging the life of mining conveyor belt components provides an ROI through lower expenditure on spares and replacements and reduced downtime.
West River Conveyors can advise on the most appropriate types of components for your application or industry and will help you maximize the life you get from them.
Learn more about how to prevent common conveyor belt problems.