Tuesday 9th Mar, 2021

Putting pulley lagging to the test

Rigorous quality testing and local support helps Flexco Australia ensure its products live up to its customer’s high standards.

Rigorous quality testing and local support helps Flexco Australia ensure its products live up to its customer’s high standards.

Pulley lagging helps keep conveyors running by bonding to the shell of a pulley, protecting it from damage and reducing belt slippage with increased friction.

This often leads to a reduction in unscheduled downtime and wear, which has led to many mining companies adopting its use to maximise productivity and longevity.

Soroosh Mirzaee, a Flexco manufacturing and quality engineer, explains that because these companies invest heavily in their equipment, they often have high expectations when selecting products and accessories for their conveyor belt system.

“Conveyor belts can cost millions of dollars alone, so it’s important we provide pulley lagging that can handle the intense conditions required,” he says.

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To ensure Flexco’s products are able to meet these customer expectations, Mr Mirzaee leads the company’s quality-assurance testing at its Australian manufacturing centre.

Over its three decades of operation in Australia, Flexco has developed a range of rubber compounds: natural, fire-resistant and anti-static (FRAS), and nitrile.

The company contracts the University of Queensland to perform an array of independent analyses, testing the rubber compounds’ abrasion resistance and adhesion, wear rate and more. Flexco also performs more regular in-house testing, but believes it is essential to also be tested by an authority completely independent to the business so that customers know that the product is held to the highest standards.

Mr Mirzaee says these tests are highly extensive and complicated, but have allowed Flexco to create a high-quality baseline for its manufacturing processes.

“External testing has helped us identify proven rubber formulae that we can replicate to create high-performance rubber products,” he says.

“As part of the manufacturing process, we perform monthly tests to ensure our rubber continues to hit this standard.”

During production, visual inspections help detect defects after moulding and buffing. A sample is taken to the lab each month to test tensile and bonding strength. Flexco’s FRAS materials are also evaluated by the relevant government bodies every five years to maintain its certification.

The company’s ceramic pulley lagging products undergo similar levels of scrutiny, assessed for wear rate and grade, with spectrometric testing to ensure each batch from the supplier is up to standard.

Mr Mirzaee says quality assurance helps guarantee that Flexco’s customers are getting a reliable product, every time.

Flexco constantly investigates alternative rubber compounds to ensure that the raw material is always of the highest quality available on the market. Rubber is always sourced locally in Australia to guarantee all components of the rubber lagging are manufactured using materials from reputable and trustworthy suppliers.

Phil Dreghorn, Flexco’s Territory Manager, says pulley lagging products have come a long way over the past three decades and are now considered standard on multiple operations.

“Many years ago, some companies were running with bare shells, but it’s rare to see that now,” he says.

“In fact, companies are now looking for custom lagging solutions to further protect their conveyor belts and pulleys.”

All of Flexco’s lagging products, including custom pulley lagging, are manufactured in Flexco’s Sydney factory. According to Mr Dreghorn, customised orders make up around a third of the company’s orders.

Tile patterns and sizes can each be altered to fit specific design requirements and are commonly used to provide additional protection in case a conveyor belt mistracks.

“Belts and pulley lagging can come in standard sizes, but a frequent request is to provide ceramic lagging 60 to 80 millimetres longer than standard to cover a belt if it mistracks, stopping the edge rubber from wearing away,” Mr Dreghorn says.

“Because we are based locally, it also means we have shorter manufacturing lead times and flexibility.

“We also support our customers with site visits by our national sales and support team. This valuable support includes solution providing, troubleshooting and extensive training.”