Wednesday 13th Nov, 2019

Newcastle trio transforms stacker throughput

A collaboration of Newcastle businesses, including TUNRA Bulk Solids, HIC Services, and Lindsay Dynan, worked together to improve the throughput of a transfer chute at a prominent Hunter Valley coal mine by using 3D modelling technology.

A collaboration of Newcastle businesses, including TUNRA Bulk Solids, HIC Services, and Lindsay Dynan, worked together to improve the throughput of a transfer chute at a prominent Hunter Valley coal mine by using 3D modelling technology.

When a Hunter Valley coal mine began running into issues with one of its transfer chutes, it needed a solution as soon as possible.

The transfer chute was important to the mine operation with a throughput of 2000 tonnes per hour. A fourteen-day shutdown period was planned for February 2019, with this window of time allowing the implementation of planned improvements.

In order for the chute improvement to be undertaken, Hunter Industrial Ceramics (HIC) Services were engaged by the mine site to investigate how it could improve the material flow through the chute. HIC Services then collaborated with both The University of Newcastle Research Associates (TUNRA) Bulk Solids and Lindsay Dynan Consulting Engineers, sharing the necessary information for the project through open communication.

Jude Sneesby, HIC Business Development Manager, says it was important the new chute maintained the existing footprint.

“The chute was connected to a major boom stacker, so cutting the existing structures would have been time consuming and expensive,” he says.

Because limited drawings existed, Lindsay Dynan created a 3D computer-aided design (CAD) file using site measurements and a 3D scan of the chute and structure. The geometry was then provided to TUNRA to be the basis of the chute assessment and conceptual redesign works.

TUNRA then employed Discrete Element Modelling (DEM), finding the old chute had poor control of the material stream. Its modelling indicated that while the flow of the coal through the transfer chute was functional, there were opportunities to improve it, including reducing potential coal build-up and optimising the flow onto the receiving belt. TUNRA set out to design an improved chute from a materials handling perspective while working within the envelope of the existing chute.    

“Significant modifications were made to chute design in order to improve its performance,” Mr Sneesby explains.

“The feed head pulley and conveyor belt were kept in place while a new chute assembly including, hood, mid chute deflector, spoon, and discharge chute were installed.

“This included structural support frames which were mounted to the boom stacker.”

TUNRA used a converging design for the hood’s span to promote constrained discharge onto the spoon and to minimise the material stream’s impact angle. The spoon helps encourage the stream velocity to move in the direction of the receiving belt. To make the manufacturing process easier, the chute was designed in segments with straight panels.

Once the conceptual design was finalised by TUNRA, Lindsay Dynan began developing the detailed engineering design. TUNRA provided the 3D CAD concept to the Lindsay Dynan drafting and engineering team, which used CAD techniques to produce engineered drawings for fabrication. When the final design was approved, HIC Services fabricated the new chute, installed abrasion and impact resistant HICTECH Alumina Tiles, and coated the remaining surfaces in various protective coatings. HIC Services then installed and commissioned the new chute.

The collaborative effort was built on the good relationship between HIC Services, TUNRA, and Lindsay Dynan. In particular, the DEM analysis tool provided by TUNRA was pivotal in unlocking the potential of the transfer chute and achieving the 10 per cent throughput gain in a timely and cost-efficient manner.    

“A lot of planning went into the initial stages to understand the full scope of works and mitigate any risks,” Mr Sneesby says.

“Working with such professional companies made it a lot easier. It was exciting to help increase the capacity of the chute by 200 tonnes per hour, while also sticking to the current footprint – an achievement in itself.”

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