Conveyors are built tough, but they’re far from indestructible – foreign metals in material flow can shred through belts. Kinder Australia has designed a solution.

There are countless ways that metal can fall into a bulk material stream. A tool could be dropped and land on the conveyor, or it could have been introduced upstream.

If left undetected, it poses a serious threat to the conveyor belt. When metal fragments become mixed with bulk materials, they can wreak havoc as they travel at speed along the conveyor system. The sharp metal edges may tear into the conveyor belt resulting in expensive repairs and downtime.

David Zhungu, a design engineer at Kinder Australia, said metal is unwanted, but not uncommon. The goal is to target certain areas of the conveyor with engineered solutions to prevent damage of the belt occurring.

“One thing people often disregard when running metal detection systems is how impactful the reduced downtime and maintenance costs can be,” Zhungu said.

“The belt is one of the most expensive components of a conveyor system and any small punctures and tears can rapidly rip the belt. 

“Early warning systems save operators a lot of money, which is why we provide a solution that aids in the longevity of the belt.”

As part of its belt protection system, Kinder Australia supplies metal detectors, which have a high level of accuracy and adaptability. When installed correctly, they can inform a site immediately if there is a foreign metal present in the conveyed material. Metal detectors are best installed before the transfer point to prevent metal from going through the crusher or piercing the conveyor belt after picking up speed.

The sensitivity of the metal detector can be adjusted accordingly to prevent false alarm metal detections. When metal is detected, the relay output is deactivated, allowing for various actions to be triggered. The relay can be connected to activate an alarm, send a stop impulse to the conveyor belt, or signal a scraping device, among other possibilities.

Depending on the application and space limitations, Kinder Australia can recommend the ideal metal detector configuration.

Zhungu said Kinder works with engineers to assist in fine tuning the systems to locate metals.

“The manufacturer also provides us with support and assistance for our customers through the provision of detailed installation, Operation and Maintenance manuals,” he said.

“Before we recommend a metal detector, we always ask the customer questions what bulk materials they are conveying, the belt width and burden depth to ensure they have the right tool for the task. It’s vital to get the correct information here, as there are several things that can affect installation, such as electrical interference, vibration, and mounting limitations.

“Our field engineers go out to a customer’s site to provide technical advice on the mechanical installation of the metal detectors. I provide the electrical expertise in determining the size of Search coil required and if any electrical interference is within the chosen installation location of the search coil. As well as the power requirements to run the Electronic Control unit of the metal detectors and provide trouble shooting tips if any problems arise. It is vital qualified Electricians carry out the installation work, Zhungu said. 

If foreign metal manages to slip through undetected, Kinder Australia includes another line of defence in the form of its K-Flexal elastic belt support system.

The system is made up of flexible polyurethane saddles that effectively allow the absorption of impact forces under the chute as product is dropped onto the belt. The UHMWPE pads on the surface of the saddles provide low friction contact with the belt. The drop height, belt speed and material’s abrasiveness are used in determining the K-Flexal’s effectiveness to support the belt correctly.

If the metal has imbedded into the belt, the damage may already be done before any operator notices. The belt rip detector switch will alert to tears in the conveyor belt immediately to prevent catastrophic failure of the belt.

When a rip occurs in the belt, any material or ripped section of conveyor belt caught by the wire rope activates the switch, halting the conveyor operation. The belt rip detector switch gives operators peace of mind that no tear will pass by undetected. 

To monitor all sides of the belt, two belt rip detector switches and wire kits are needed. 

Zhungu said organisations that take proactive measures to mitigate the risks associated with foreign metal contaminants benefit more than they would expect.

“When a belt rips, the downtime can be extensive. Not only do you need to replace or repair the belt, but you also lose days of vital productivity,” he said.

“Awareness and the implementation of engineered solutions such as K-Flexal elastic belt support system, metal detector kit and the belt rip detector switch will target problematic metal in three different ways – working collectively to avoid conveyor belt damage.

“Our customers have had great feedback, saying that the system keeps conveyors operational for much longer.” 

This article originally appeared in Australian Bulk Handling Review

For more information on your specific requirements, contact Kinder Australia on +61 38587 9111 or email Kinder