Friday 18th Sep, 2020

Building the last line of defence

Quality braking systems are vital to avoid catastrophe, which is why a major Australian miner selected Altra Motion Australia to install one of the biggest backstops in the country.

When an Australian mining company commissioning a conveyor for an underground mine, it needed to ensure the equipment it selected was best suited for the job.

At the mine, the conveyor was the main method to bring thousands of tonnes of ore to the surface, up a steep incline. With such a high lift and angle, it was vital that the braking systems employed would be able to bring the system to a complete and safe stop.

According to the Australian Standards, this would also require two forms of holdback for such a system.

Paul Pavlou, National Contracts Manager for Altra Motion Australia, says the miner selected Altra Motion to supply a Svendborg brakes and high-speed braking system called the SOBO IQ and a fixed Marland backstop on the low-speed shaft on the pulley, the largest sold in Australia.

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“Svendborg brakes and Marland Clutch has a long and successful history as reliable products. Our products are designed with the largest safety factors available – we don’t skimp on quality,” Pavlou says.

“As a result, our brakes and backstops are used on many of the challenging mining projects around the world, especially in Australia.

“Our customers need to depend on our products, as they are the last line of defence if something goes wrong with the conveyor drives.”

The SOBO IQ acts on the gear drives, applying a torque based on the stopping time irrespective of the loads on the conveyor to stop it in a controlled manner. It uses a speed reference signal, taken from the coupling bolts on the high-speed coupling holding the brake disc, and a pressure feedback loop to accurately predict what the braking system needs to stop the conveyor.

The system allows for up to three controlled braking ramps, meaning the conveyor can be stopped within a set parameter, irrespective of the load on the belt, using only enough torque to bring it to a soft stop.

It is also backed up by an uninterruptable power supply (UPS) system, allowing the brakes to operate in case of a power failure, and a mechanical two-stage backup.

Pavlou says typically variable frequency drives (VFD) will bring the conveyor to a stop, forming the operational stop.

“Our SOBO IQ shadows this and takes over the braking if there are any problems with the VFD. This could be if the VFD faults or in the case of a power failure,” he says.

“If all else fails, our products will safely bring the conveyor to a controlled stop and hold the load on the conveyor, providing the main safety.”

Svendborg and Marland are part of Altra Industrial Motion’s portfolio of industrial brands. The company owns more than 25 different brands of mechanical, hydraulic, electromechanical and pneumatic power transmission and motion control components and systems.

The company has a global reach, with brakes, hydraulics and controls being manufactured in Denmark and shipped to projects in Australia, Asia, North and South America and South Africa. Likewise, Marland has a global reach with backstop products manufactured in the USA. In Australia, Altra’s brands feature heavily within the mining sector, with Svendborg being used in challenging areas, such as shiploader winches and mine hoists.

Pavlou says having a broad portfolio means it can make working on large, complex projects easier.

“Using multiple Altra Motion brands means there are less suppliers involved in a project, creating less complexity overall. For this project, we had a meeting where the miner, designer and other contractors got together to find the best way forward. Because multiple components were used, there was one less person required in that room,”
he says.

In addition, the company offers after sales support for the product’s entire life, from design to tender to supply and decommissioning. Factory trained technicians around Australia inspect, install and commission Altra’s products for the life of the system, backed up by in-workshop servicing.

The company continues to grow throughout 2020 and will aim to develop a greater reach across Australia and Oceania.

“We have teams in Western Australia, Queensland and New South Wales covered, so the plan is to cover more Australian states and to better support the Asia Pacific region,” he says.

“With our experience in the industry and the backing of our global manufacturing centres, 2020 and beyond is shaping up to be an exciting time for Altra Motion Australia.”