Tuesday 2nd Jun, 2020

How Elastotec is helping major miners reduce operating costs

Elastotec’s hot vulcanised ceramic lagging is helping mining companies reduce unplanned downtime and operating costs around the world.

Elastotec’s hot vulcanised ceramic lagging is helping mining companies reduce unplanned downtime and operating costs around the world.

One of Australia’s largest producing gold mines has had great success with the introduction of the Elastotec hot vulcanised ceramic lagging (HVCL) on both drive and non-drive pulleys.

To help improve the reliability of the mine’s conveyor systems, the mining company partnered with conveyor component manufacturer PROK Conveyor Components (PROK), an approved Australian applicator of the HVCL product.   

As part of this partnership, PROK provides pulley refurbishment services that include inspection and condition reports to analyse the componentry and look for ways to achieve the best pulley performance.

One particular finding from this reporting was the need to improve the lifespan of the mine’s pulleys by addressing the issue of premature ceramic lagging failures. It was identified that the mine could potentially make substantial reductions in unscheduled down time and could extend the mean time between failures.

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Peter Poklepovich, PROK Aftermarket Sales Manager, says the company discussed the best solution with Elastotec, its partnered specialist in providing pulley lagging, with the longest service life possible.

“Elastotec’s solution was to replace the traditional style of pulley lagging with a product called hot vulcanised ceramic lagging,” Mr Poklepovich says.

Ceramic lagging has traditionally been applied to pulleys using two-part neoprene contact cements, in a process called cold bonding. This system can be convenient, but it has limitations that can impact the reliability and service life of the lagging.

Typically, with cold bonded lagging, the bond strength between the rubber backing on the ceramic lagging and the steel pulley shell is limited, meaning shear forces transmitted by the pulley to the conveyor belt can exceed the bond strength in drive applications with high belt tensions. This can lead to the lagging being ripped off the pulley entirely. Additionally, high localised shear forces due to an uneven belt profile as a result of belt wear, can cause debonding of the lagging on high-tension bend pulleys in contact with the dirty side of the belt.

Bond strength can also be affected by moisture during lagging application, with high humidity potentially cutting the final bond strength by as much as half.

Cold bonding of pulley lagging also has multiple joins between the lagging strips that are only held together by the adhesive. The forces transmitted to the belt by the pulley, combined with hydraulic forces between the belt and the lagging in wet conditions, work to open up the joins and force water through to the pulley shell. When this occurs, corrosion of the pulley shell can result in debonding of the lagging and, in severe cases, it can result in a reduction in the pulley shell thickness, making it unserviceable.

HVCL helps to eliminate these causes of lagging failures: debonding from the pulley shell, edge lifting and corrosion, separation or lifting at the joints between lagging strips.

To apply the HVCL, the pulley is placed into a pressure vessel, where lagging is vulcanised to the pulley shell using steam or heated air at high pressures. This ensures the lagging has a 100 per cent rubber tear bond, meaning the bond strength is greater or equal to the strength of the rubber itself.

Mr Poklepovich says after installing the Elastotec pulley lagging, the mine recorded a significant reduction in lagging failures and quickly adopted the HVCL as their standard due to the improvement in performance.

“This had flow-on safety and cost benefits for our customer, as it meant less pulleys were changed due to  lagging failures,” he says.

PROK Conveyor Components and Elastotec work closely with one another, with monthly meetings and discussions between the two companies occurring almost weekly. The two companies also visit a number of mining customers to offer customised lagging solutions.

Mr Poklepovich says Elastotec’s research and development is what sets it apart as a component supplier.

“Elastotec has its finger on the pulse of the industry and is always paying close attention to ensure its products remain relevant in the market,” he says.

Extensive research and testing has gone into Elastotec’s lagging and, as a result, Elastotec offers a warranty for its lagging performance.

David Molesworth, Sales Director at Elastotec says the company is confident that its HVCL, when applied by an Approved Applicator such as PROK, will have no debonding from the pulley shell, no tile debonding, no edge lifting or water ingress through the joins between strips.

“We introduced the warranty a couple of years ago to show that we were serious about providing pulley lagging that would last,” he says.

“Since 2012, Elastotec has installed hot-vulcanised pulley lagging on more than 800 systems with zero failures.”

Elastotec regards the application of pulley lagging just as highly as the engineering that goes into developing its lagging. Because of this, it works closely with approved applicators like PROK to ensure that the operators are well trained in the latest application techniques and that the applications engineers are knowledgeable about how to determine the lagging requirements for a wide variety of different pulley installations.

Elastotec also works closely with mine engineering and maintenance teams, to understand how their pulleys are performing and areas where they are looking for improved performance.

“In an industry where reliability is crucial and unplanned downtime can result in millions of dollars lost over a single day, Elastotec focuses on providing pulley lagging that lasts as long as the mechanical components on the pulley” Mr Molesworth says.

“This focus and specialisation provides improved service life and is the reason our lagging is being used by mining companies worldwide.”