How Conveyor Dust Control Minimise Disruptions and Maximise Productivity – Featured in Quarry Magazine, November 2017 Issue
Ineffective measures and failures in controlling silica dust emissions at many quarrying and bulk materials handling operations can cause serious consequences and health risks when inhaled. Add to this, the maintenance clean-up costs and long term detrimental economic and environmental impact to surrounding residential communities. It’s timely and mindful for quarry operators to tackle ongoing dust problems or risk disruption to their productivity, and worst case scenario – suspensions to planned developments/expansions and future viability of operations.
In the US, recent news relating to silica dust emission has come into the spotlight at the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), resulting in testing, data and discussions leading to standards being issued. The regulation sets out strict guidelines with the aim of minimising the risk of silicosis, chronic respiratory issues, lung cancer, kidney disease and other health conditions linked to exposure of concentrated levels of airborne silica dust over a long-term period and details optimal risk mitigation practices and compliance. (Source: Dry Bulk Magazine, Summer Issue).
To date Kinder Australia has advised materials handling operators of the dangers of uncontained dust emissions posing serious OHS issues – not only to staff, but to machinery and nearby communities. The fine airborne dust particles create serious damage to personal health when inhaled. Further safety risks include the increased risk of slips, trips and falls in areas of poor access and visibility caused by dust. Dust can also reach areas beyond the site boundaries. It can contaminate delicate ecosystems especially in wetlands and rivers, causing regulatory interest and rifts between nearby towns and the plant.
From a OHS perspective, it’s also worth highlighting during Feb to May 2017 period 3.8% of all Quarry Improvement Notices – Victoria issued by Worksafe related specifically to exposure to dust. When quarry operators come under examination, failure to comply can face potential prosecution, fines and worst case scenario site closure.
For over three decades Kinder Australia has been at the forefront of delivering innovative dust control solutions for all bulk materials handling applications. K-Snap-Loc® Dust Seal System is a high performance engineered polyurethane solution for practical and cost effective improvements for dust control problems that is suitable for all conveyor belt speed applications.
“The effective suppression of dust particles at the conveyor transfer points can be also be achieved through the installation of skirting and containment seals offered by Kinder Australia”, says Neil Kinder, Kinder Australia CEO.
Neil also adds “dust control is not only about protecting people and the environment but the machines in and around facilities as well”, installing K-MotorShield Motor Covers and Capotex Belt Conveyor Covers play a pivotal role in tackling and minimising dust emissions. Motor covers prevents environmental debris and particles destroying bearings, windings and brushes on drive motors. Whilst belt covers allow easy access to the conveyor system at all time for any ongoing maintenance reducing labour and shutdown requirements.
Case Study 1
Site inspections at our Victorian quarry customer identified major issues with dust emissions. The transfer point under the tertiary crusher was a source of excessive spillage and dust emission. After many years of service and increased load due to plant productivity increases the belt was operating at full capacity. This resulted in the area flooding and not containing the crushed material.
Material turbulence generating huge amount of dust in the tertiary crushing process, was ultimately escaping and causing constant emissions from conveyor belt skirting system. Dust had been reported to cause issues and blockages of the spray nozzles and the site had attempted wetting the product, however this led to binding the screens further along in the next process.
With the vertical impact drop height from the cone crusher being 2.5m and a lump size of minus 60mm provided evidence that the material was pooling, due to the material not moving in the direction of the conveyor belt. A combination of conveyor belt sag and inconsistent conveyor idler profile resulted in an ineffective skirting system, therefore resulting in the dust emissions and spillage.
After conducting an in-depth evaluation, the Quarry elected to overhaul the conveyor by fabricating a new tail section and followed recommendations to install K-Impact Belt Support System, K-Sure® Belt Support System, K-Ultra Dual® Seal Skirting System and a Return Vee Plough with the view of tackling the dust emission challenges head on.
To date, the project upgrade has delivered positive outcomes, with minimal dust reported from the skirting system. The only dust reported was observed to be appearing from another source near the crusher discharge.
Case Study 2
Based in South-East Victoria, our customer’s core activity is the extraction and provision of granite based aggregates, of up to 40mm minus. Situated on the edge of reclaimed swampland, the quarried material has a high silica content and so the operations required effective dust suppression to meet OHS regulations in line with environmental policies as well as provide adequate working conditions for workers.
In the introductory phase, the quarry manager observed the existing rubber skirting was being used to contain the conveyed material. The highly abrasive characteristics of the conveyed granite in addition to the drop height of 2.5 metres, it was noted the rubber skirt was only lasting 2 months before it needed to be changed out and replaced. The containment of the fine dust particles was also highlighted as areas for improvement.
Having this prior knowledge of K-Ultra Dual® Seal, the Quarry Manager felt confident that there was no other product that combined the unique dual capabilities of K-Ultra Dual® Seal:
- The interior facing wear resistant layer of polyurethane exceeds the wear life of traditional rubber-only skirting.
- The outer anti-dust integral moulding can adapt to belt vibration and maintain the correct pressure to effectively seal the belt.
A positive outcome was achieved, with K-Ultra Dual® Seal installation lasting approximately 12 months in regular production and suppresses the dust more effectively than prior skirting used.
The nature of todays quarrying produces dust and lots of it, best practice dust control measures need to be implemented to ensure the levels are industry standard compliant and which prevents harm to workers. Dust control systems currently available vary greatly in terms of complexity and ease of implementation and is highly dependent on the sites size, location and the surrounding environment.
“Our experience and expertise has shown the return on investment on implementing an effective dust control solutions can be realised quickly. The real gains to a quarry operator can also be put in terms of continuous efficiency in productivity and reducing the risk to personal safety and the environment”, says Mr Kinder.
For more information creating measurable productivity gains through effective dust control systems please to Kinder Australia Field Applications Engineers and Specialists.