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July 12, 2010 Brett DeVries P.E., Flexco


Bulk Material Belt Conveyor Impact Bed/Cradle


During the 2010 CEMA Engineering conference, solicitation was made for help simplifying the rating
method used in CEMA standard 575-2000. The request was to eliminate the force capacity rating of the
bed classes and only use the impact (potential) energy of the falling material to rate the classes. One
challenge is that the current method calculates the flowing force of a homogeneous stream of material
in pounds while the impact energy of the large lumps is measured in ft-lbs. These units are not
equivalent. Equations for converting the flowing force into an equivalent hypothetical lump mass were

In addition, experience has suggested to some CEMA accessory members that the flowing force was not
a large contributor to the impact energy delivered to the bed. Once converted to equivalent units,
perhaps the calculations would show the flowing force contribution could be neglected.


This document presents a mathematical method for converting flowing force into an equivalent
hypothetical lump mass. It also opens a discussion whether this factor is of continued need in the CEMA
575-2000 standard.


In the idealized case of a conveyor transfer point, potential energy of the material is converted into
kinetic energy by the force of gravity, which is then transformed into spring energy at maximum
deflection upon impact with the impact bed. In real life, energy is also absorbed by impact with chute
walls, impact with the belt, impact within the flowing stream of material, and hysteresis losses within
the flexible bed elements. For this discussion, the idealized case will be considered in which no energy is
assumed lost to those other events. Not only is it computationally simpler, but it also results in worst
case numbers for the rating of the bed.

By conservation of energy, potential energy of the falling material equals spring energy of the bed and
the energy equation can be written as:

1 2
( + ) =

m= mass of the lump (lbs)

g=gravitational acceleration ( 32.2 ft/sec2)
h=drop height (ft)
=bed deflection (ft)
k=bed spring rate (lbf/ft)

However, since bed deflection is small compared to the drop height (h) in conveyor applications, for
simplicity it will be ignored in the potential energy equations for the remainder of the document.

Using the existing formula from CEMA 575-2000 figure 4 for the impact force of a stream of material,

= .1385 and = / and = /

(The existing force equation uses a constant value of .1389 based on gravitational acceleration equal to
32 ft/sec. The value .1385 is calculated using 32.2 ft/sec.)

Substituting for k in the energy equation we get


Substituting for we can rewrite the energy equation as :


Substituting the flowing force equation into the energy equation yields:

= . 13852 2

Simplifying, the conversion equation becomes:

= .

Where Q is in tons per hour, k is in lbs/in and m is in lbm.

This equation calculates the hypothetically equivalent mass representing the impact energy of the
homogeneous flowing stream. It could be added to the largest lump mass and together with the height
used to score the duty class needed using the Impact Energy ratings in Table 1 of the CEMA 575-2000
However, an examination of the equation reveals that unless k is quite small, this value may be
negligible. An examination of reasonable k values for impact beds and their effects on this equivalent
value follows below.


If we use the existing impact bed rating chart (Table 1 from 575-2000) and the conservation of energy

1 2 1
= =
2 2

It is interesting to plug the maximum impact energy and the maximum force values from table 1 of the
575-2000 standard into these equations. Maximum impact energy from the table is substituted for mgh
and maximum impact force from the table is substituted for F.

The following values result from the standards Table 1:

Light duty: max deflection = .565 inches; k = 15050 lbf/inch

Medium duty: max deflection = 2.00 inches; k = 6000 lbf/inch
Heavy duty: max deflection = 2.82 inches; k = 6020 lbf/inch

Ironically, the Table 1 forces the light duty bed to have the stiffest spring constant. This is probably the
opposite of standard practice. It is also surprising that including both maximum impact energy and
maximum impact force in the standard leads to these design constraints. CEMA should consider
dropping the maximum impact force from the rating chart since it is potentially dictating design.

However, the calculated k values could be used as a reasonable baseline for estimating a typical k value
for impact beds which can now be plugged into the conversion equation. For the sake of argument,
assume k values fall somewhere between 3000 lbf/inch and 9000lbf/inch. The following graph
illustrates the contribution various tons per hour at different k values contribute to the equivalent
hypothetical lump weight.
The X axis is Q in tons per hour, the Y-axis is k in pounds-force/inch, and the Z-axis is the calculated lump
mass equivalent to the flow rate. From the graph and chart, the maximum equivalent lump size is 9.65
pounds for 6000 tph flow rate and a k value equal to 3000lbf/inch. It can also be seen that this
calculated lump mass is very small for flow rates up to 3000 tph. It is also observed that the lump mass
decreases as the k of the bed increases for the same flow rate.

It seems viable that impact bed classes could be rated solely based on impact energy capacity. If
adopted, there are three methods this investigation suggests.

1. Eliminate the flow rate component in the capacity calculation for Impact beds. The
contribution to the overall impact energy is small and well within the error encountered when
estimating the maximum lump size. The impact energy calculation is also an idealized freefall
and conservative. Real systems will absorb energy and probably exceed what the flow rate
calculated contribution would make.

2. Include the conversion equation and state it is only necessary for tonnages above 3000 tph.
Consult a CEMA member for the k value for your application if needed. This method
demonstrates that CEMA is aware of the flowing force and provides a guideline and calculation
method which demonstrates technical authority. Downside to this method is that the k value
still needs to be obtained for higher tonnage applications. Also, it may be seen as an obstacle to
competition since measuring the actual k value for a particular bed is difficult and costly.

3. Establish a minimum k value for each duty class of impact bed. This allows the rating
calculation to be performed entirely from data contained within the standard. This is probably
not dictating design since the physics of the application seem to be requiring at least a minimum
level. However, this option could be objectionable to CEMA members because verifying k values
are above the minimum level on existing product may be seen as unnecessary.

Respectfully submitted: May 25, 2011

Brett DeVries P.E.