Sunday 11th Apr, 2021

Transfer points: Where productivity is really on the line

Before the coal is loaded onto the receiving belt, it is split for this dual spoon configuration to maximize controlled flow as it is loaded on the receiving belt.

Material transfer points can make or break sites’ productivity. With low commodity prices crunching profits, the need for well performing chutes is crucial. ABHR spoke to Flexco about controlled flow technologies, including its Tasman Warajay Technology.

Increasing productivity to stay viable is one of the biggest issues miners face today. The ongoing decline of commodity prices coupled with high costs has created an extremely challenging environment for Australian producers.

Flexco managing director Mark Colbourn told ABHR that better productivity is the biggest opportunity companies have to improve profitability amid the downturn.

“Producers must demand better performing solutions that increase productivity, maximise returns and deliver results for their bottom line,” Colbourn said.

Transfer chutes are a critical component of the conveyor system. It is vital that the systems work effectively to contain material flow without losing any material, damaging the belt, or causing belt slippage, all of which can bring production to a stop, crippling productivity.

“Today, more and more teams are being challenged to find the most efficient ways of doing things. The need for a high-performing controlled-flow transfer chute is now more important than ever,” said Colbourn.

 

Controlled-flow transfer systems

First and foremost, transfer chute systems contain material flow. If this is not done well, not all the material will make it to the receiving conveyor. Material must flow through the transfer chute system; if it doesn’t, it will block and bring the operation to a halt.

While traditional designs may have worked well for simple one-on-one applications, the demands of modern material handling systems coupled with current market requirements mean more is required.

Engineered transfer chute systems are designed to control the flow of material through the system, starting with the hood chute, effectively capturing the material trajectory discharging from the head pulley.

From there, it should be guided and allowed to move through the chute system with gradual directional changes to minimise impacts that lead to material degradation and dust generation.

 

Coal is loaded in a controlled flow manner onto a receiving belt after being switched from one belt (in foreground) to another. Note the tight stream of material flow as it exits the discharge spoon.
Coal is loaded in a controlled flow manner onto a receiving belt after being switched from one belt (in foreground) to another. Note the tight stream of material flow as it exits the discharge spoon.

 

The chute system should ensure the receiving belt is loaded centrally to the correct profile, softly, in the direction of belt travel and at close to belt speed. Taking these actions will reduce wear on the belt, minimising spillage and skirting wear, and keep the belt tracking properly.

 

Traditional vs. advanced

Traditional chute designs, while sometimes effective, do have their limitations. “Bang and drop” and “rock box” designs simply contain the material, albeit not very well. Both of these chute designs degrade both the material conveyed and the belt that is receiving the material. Simple containment systems offer almost no control over the flow path, so they block frequently and require shutdowns for cleaning resulting in lost productivity.

Advanced chute technologies can accomplish more than simply transferring material. High-performing transfer solutions should deliver throughput levels that match receiving belt capacities, dust levels that meet or exceed regulatory levels, and significant noise reduction.

 

During the design stage, Flexco engineers superimpose a 3D model over the existing structure.
During the design stage, Flexco engineers superimpose a 3D model over the existing structure.

 

Equally importantly, a high-performing chute should rarely block, not degrade the material in any way, improve the life of the conveyor belt, and deliver long wear life for the entire transfer point solution.

 

The same chute as the previous model completed and installed on site.
The same chute as the previous model completed and installed on site.

 

Flexco product development manager Craig Ferguson says each material transfer system should be custom designed to control the flow of material by keeping material in a continuous stream throughout the transfer.

“The geometry of the system is designed to accurately control the velocity and direction of the material stream contained within it, so the material stream stays together with all fines and particulates entrained in the stream,” Ferguson explained.

A variety of different types of components have been developed over time to meet the need to regulate the material system within a controlled flow material transfer to suit specific, existing, or desired circumstances and operational requirements.

The components involved in diversion technology as it relates to the controlled flow of materials vary. In controlled flow transfer systems, the traditional flop-gate, which used to be the most effective way to appropriately portion and direct materials, has been replaced by an array of modern diversion methods that improve flexibility, reliability, and efficiency.

With a properly engineered transfer system, material discharged from the system can be deposited softly and uniformly at a predetermined velocity and direction on the receiving belt so material settles on the receiving conveyor rapidly.

“This eliminates the turbulence that typically leads to spillage and dust generation,” said Ferguson.

 

Powerful technology, increased productivity

“The most powerful controlled-flowed technology on the market is Tasman Warajay Technology,” explained Ferguson. “Our systems not only improve throughput, but also reduce excessive dust, spillage, blockages, downtime, belt wear, and combustion dangers.”

The Tasman Warajay Technology design method was developed by Flexco engineers and uses software to make adjustments to the angle and velocity of moving material – literally “shaping” the flow path and minimising the impact on receiving belts.

“Engineers model data to accurately predict material trajectories, and design solutions that will accommodate future fluctuations in load volume. Whether it is a straightforward one-on-one chute, diversion to multiple belts, or a complex transfer with luffing and slewing motions, Tasman Warajay Technology is equipped to meet the transfer challenge,” said Ferguson.