Wednesday 20th Nov, 2019

Creating collaboration at ICBMH 2019

The 13th International Conference on Bulk Materials Storage, Handling and Transportation has drawn researchers and industry together to share knowledge across the two communities. ABHR reports.

The 13th International Conference on Bulk Materials Storage, Handling and Transportation (ICBMH 2019) has drawn researchers and industry together to share knowledge across the two communities. ABHR reports.

The science of moving bulk solids from place to place affects a number of industries, each with their own requirements.

What may work when handling delicate chemicals for the pharmaceutical industry may not apply to the enormous quantities of ore moved by the mining industry each hour.

Showcasing the research and technology that supports this diverse field was a key focus of the 13th International Conference on Bulk Materials Storage, Handling and Transportation (ICBMH).

The event, which took place in July at the Gold Coast, gave industry members and academics a chance to network and exchange ideas. Almost 100 research papers were presented at the event, along with workshops in belt conveying, Discrete Element Method (DEM) simulation, dust control and biomass.

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In particular, the conference was centred around the advances that have been made in the research, development, application and implementation of technology used for bulk solids handling.

Professor Mark Jones, Conference Chair, says ICBMH 2019 helped foster collaboration between researchers and industry.

“The academics have a lot of fascinating research that is relevant to the industry, and vice versa: they can learn a lot about some of the challenges businesses are currently facing and where they can direct their research,” Professor Jones says.

“We’re really pleased with the attendance and split of delegates. Around half of the attendees are from the industry, with around a third of delegates from overseas.”

Turnout for the conference was a major success for the organiser, the Australian Society for Bulk Solids Handling, with delegate registrations almost double than the expected number.

The event began with a site tour of the Condong Sugar Mill and the Stone and Wood Brewery in Murwillumbah, where delegates were able to see the farm and processing mill that has been operating since 1880.

Following this were presentations on a variety of different topics from storage and handling, to energy and the environment, and simulation and modelling. Belt, pneumatic and hydraulic conveying systems were evaluated and presented, with discussions taking place on the systems involved in the transportation of bulk solids.

One such system on display was conveyor manufacturer ContiTech’s pipe conveyor belt. Designed for mining and industrial applications, which often require relatively steep inclines and tight curves, the belt’s compact design helps to enclose the product and protect the environment.

At the material feed point, the belt is troughed like a conventional conveyor belt. However, after the loading station, finger rollers close the belt to protect the material inside, before opening once again at the head pulley and discharged like a conventional belt system.

ContiTech, the major sponsor of ICBMH 2019, has attended the event since its inception in the 1980s. Con Michaels, Regional OEM Project Manager at ContiTech, says it is an honour to sponsor the conference.

“It’s really interesting to see what the Australian research community is working on and for us to help give them guidance on the technology we’d like to see brought to the market,” Mr Michaels says.

“The networking opportunities are highly valuable as there are people from all over the world here. It also allows us to present some of our globally recognised conveying technology.”

In addition to ContiTech, other sponsors of ICBMH included Schenck Process, TUNRA Bulk Solids, Jenike and Johanson, Boton Conveyor Services and LEAP Australia.

Australian businesses showcased the improvements made to their bulk handling systems. Jane Macey, Head of Engineering at Roy Hill Iron Ore, discussed in her plenary presentation how the mining company was able to enhance its operations with a goal to reach 100 per cent reliability.

Professor Jones explains the international research community for bulk solids handling is relatively small, but has a massive impact on the global mining and process industry.

“Australian research has quite a few leaders in the space who have gone on to influence the global community, especially with research translation and undergraduate courses,” he says.

One observation Professor Jones made about the event was the high proportion of young engineers in attendance.

Professor Alan Roberts, founder of TUNRA, says he was happy to see so many engineers learning a subject that impacts so much of daily life.

“It’s encouraging to see so many young people, especially young women, presenting papers at this event,” Professor Roberts says. “The diversity on display is more than I have seen at any other conference that I have been to.

“I encourage young engineers to take up the subject and the industry to keep supporting them. I guarantee it is a way of life that I’ve never regretted.”