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CONVEYORS

Design fundamentals
for drive systems on
conveyors
By Luke Meakin* and Peter Saxby, Hatch

1. Keywords drives being designed which have not drives, motion at full load conditions
Conveyor, conveyor drive, multiple drive, operated correctly are discussed in this may take many seconds. Ensure that the
drive control system, variable voltage paper. Various trends which have led to zero speed trip timers allows for this.
variable frequency control, variable speed these outcomes are discussed and method- • Ensure that the motor does not trip
drive, variable frequency drive, second- ologies which should be employed during out on an arbitrary electrical limit
ary resistance control (SRC), squirrel cage design to ensure fit for purpose outcomes that does not harm the motor (an 85%
induction motor (SCIM), wound rotor are also discussed. maximum current trip is often set on
induction motor (WRIM), fluid coupling, The broad areas discussed by this many mine drives). Proper setup of
electronic soft starter, direct on line start, paper include: the MPR can eliminate this type of
breakaway torque, acceleration torque, • Determination of conveyor resistances nuisance trip.
conveyor resistance forces, conveyor ef- • Assessment of de-rating factors • Ensure that other instruments (oil
ficiency, conveyor drive de-rating. • Features of various conveyor drive pressure, flow, temperature, zero
technologies speed, vibration etc.) are bypassed for
2. Synopsis • Design suggestions to minimise energy the starting duration unless deemed
The combination of a number of fac- losses in conveyor systems critical.
tors can result in conveyor drives being In addition to incorrect drive sizing, • Confirm the set up of the VSD is as
undersized or operating in an unsuitable drives can fail due to control system is- required.
manner. Some of these factors include: sues and these are also discussed briefly • Check the actual voltage drop under
• The trend to reduce drive sizes by as a precursor. starting as this is drive dependant,
reducing friction coefficients with direct on line starting being the
• The trend towards using squirrel 4. Drive control system highest.
cage induction motors under variable philosophy
voltage variable frequency controls A conveyor that is operating and con- 5. Conveyor resistances
combined without considering the tinues to operate safely with an alarm The basic conveyor resistance forces
drive characteristics condition allowing an overload to be are calculated by using the international
• Not analysing the operation and in- corrected will cause less problems standard, ISO 5048(1) in most parts of
teraction of fluid couplings with the than a conveyor that is stopped as soon the world, with CEMA(2) (Conveyor
motor torque curve. as the alarm is raised. A back up trip Equipment Manufacturers Association)
• Either not allowing for break-away should occur if the alarm condition is still finding preference in North America.
resistances, or not allowing for some not resolved quickly. Two stage alarm/ Although both these methods provide a
components of break-away resistances trip settings give excellent control and realistic assessment of resistance forces
• Not allowing for load sharing in mul- examples are: for most conveyor applications, other
tiple drive systems • If the gearbox oil temperature reaches resistance forces must be considered,
• Not allowing for surge (transient but a preset safe limit, it will not fail im- particularly during starting. These resist-
sustained variations in throughput) mediately and therefore the conveyor ances include:
• Procured drive and conveyor compo- should not be immediately stopped. • Allowance for static friction (or break-
nents being different to the design A ten degree Celsius additional rise away friction), sometimes referred to
components resulting in different resist- should trip the drive. as ‘stiction’.
ances and different drive characteristics • An electric motor that reaches peak • Allowance for full or blocked chutes.
Correct conveyor drive design can be current for a few seconds will not burn • Allowance for inertial resistance of
achieved by allowing for realistic load out, however if this persists and the the belt and its components during
cases and ensuring that the drive system motor thermal rating is reached a trip acceleration.
selected can provide adequate torque to is needed. Higher end motor protec-
overcome these resistances. tion relays (MPR) can accommodate a 5.1. Break-away friction
This paper discusses concepts for detailed motor thermal limit curve to Often neglected, this resistance force can
establishing conveyor resistances and the allow for many over-current scenarios. be significant, especially when analysing
features of various drive technologies and • The use of two stage belt wander detec- relatively long, flat (horizontal) conveyors
de-rating factors which should be applied. tion/indication is strongly preferred. where the resistance due to material lift
Starting set up can cause spurious trip is negligible and the frictional resistances
3. Introduction outs that mask the real reason for a con- summate to make the main resistance. It
Items which have contributed to under- veyor not breaking away: is common industry practice to multiply
size conveyor drives being designed, or • When using delay fill fluid coupling the artificial coefficient of friction (ISO

22 Australian Bulk Handling Review: March/April 2009


CONVEYORS

Figure 1. Example
showing typical
components of
conveyor resistances
at start-up.

5048) by a factor of 1.1 to 1.5 to calculate this happens it is preferable that the con- the specifications used to size the con-
breakaway conditions. veyor fed by the chute is able to self start. veyor drive and controller.
In general, the full chute resistance Most modern computer programmes
5.2. Full chutes forces can be conservatively calculated determine the belt tensions for both run-
Two types of philosophy apply to chute in a simple fashion by using the vertical ning and acceleration scenarios. There-
design: pressure due to hydrostatic head of the fore this resistance can be quite simply
• Traditional closed chute designs material in the chute above the profile determined by subtracting the effective
• Open profile velocity chutes (some- plate and multiplying it by the coeffi- tension (Te = T1 – T2) for the accelera-
times referred to as ‘hood and spoon’ cient of internal shear of the material. tion case from the effective tension for
chutes or ‘soft loading’ chutes) This shear stress is then multiplied by the running case. Alternatively, it can be
Many chutes are enclosed to control dust the area of the shear plane behind the manually calculated with relative ease.
and also to act as storage containers in profile plate to obtain an estimate of
the event of an uncontrolled stop due the initial (break-away) ‘pull out force’ 5.4. Torque versus time graph
to power failure, or an emergency stop. required. The time taken to empty the A number of phases and component re-
In the case where this type of chute be- chute during acceleration should be sistances are considered when analysing
comes full, or becomes blocked, it acts in calculated and taken into account when predicted motor torques during start-up.
a similar fashion to a belt feeder hopper preparing the torque versus time graph During break-away conditions the
and exerts significant resistances on the for conveyor starting conditions. Once resistances due to blocked chute condi-
conveyor. A conveyor which has multiple the material is flowing in the chutes tions, the resistances due to static friction
feed chutes discharging on to it may have some cushioning of the load onto the and the inertial resistances are added to
a sizable proportion of its starting resist- belt occurs in a similar way to that the base running resistances. This analy-
ance comprised of resistance forces due which is observed with belt feeders(3). sis is conservative as it does not take the
to full chutes. An approximation of the resistances due elasticity of the belt into account. With
The profile velocity chutes which to full chutes during acceleration (as low acceleration rates the section of the
have become popular for handling opposed to break-away) can be deter- conveyor adjacent to the drives may be
relatively free flowing materials such as mined by simply halving the resistances moving whilst other areas of the belt will
coal, generally are of an open design. calculated for the break-away condition. still be stationary. This behaviour reduces
As a general rule, to prevent spillage the effect of break-away resistances if the
during an emergency stop, conveyor 5.3. Inertial resistance during acceleration rate is sufficiently low and
stopping times are controlled by us- acceleration the belt length sufficiently long.
ing brakes or flywheels to ensure one In order to accelerate the belt and other After initial break-away during accelera-
conveyor does not feed onto the other live conveyor components (idlers, pulleys tion the conveyor static friction resistances
in these circumstances. For this type of etc) to full running speed, there is an iner- are zero. As the full chutes empty these
chute a case may exist for not allowing tial resistance which must be overcome. resistance forces decrease until they be-
for full chutes resulting from an emer- Although this resistance force can come zero as well. For the majority of the
gency stop. be low in modern designs which use acceleration phase of start-up, it is common
Experience indicates that most chutes electronic soft starters, secondary only to have the inertial resistances to con-
will block at some time for reasons be- resistance and VVVF controls, it still sider in addition to the base resistances for
yond normal controlled conditions. When should be calculated and included in running conditions (Figure 1).

Australian Bulk Handling Review: March/April 2009 23


CONVEYORS

Figure 2. Example showing


typical conveyor motor torque
requirements during various phases
at start-up.

Figure 3. Representation of a typical


torque speed curve for a squirrel cage
induction motor.

The end result of the analysis of conditions at start up, a study should be with excess load and blocked feed chutes
conveyor resistance forces during start-up conducted to determine the probability of is needed.
should be a graph of torque at the motor both the occurrences happening togeth-
shaft versus time. A typical example is er. This probability can then be used to 6. De-rating factors
shown in Figure 2. estimate the likely financial losses which Various factors need to be considered
may be incurred for a number of scenar- when determining if a drive system will
5.5. Allowance for surge ios. A decision can therefore be made on be capable of overcoming the resist-
It is normal industry practice to size a a rational basis as to whether allowances ances at start-up.
conveyor’s drive power and volumetric for surge and full chutes should be added • Gearbox efficiency
capacity to allow for surge. This arises from together as a condition for start-up. • Fluid coupling efficiency (slip)
inaccuracies and hysteresis effects in the It is often a surge condition over a • Line losses from the controller to the
control system which can result in through- period of time that causes a conveyor motor
puts in excess of the design values being to trip out through electrical overload • Losses inherent in some types of
fed over the conveyor for periods of time. (time-current or temperature) or me- motor - control system combinations
To determine if surge should be chanical overload (oil temperature), leav- e.g. VVVF and electronic soft
allowed for in addition to full chute ing a situation where a conveyor restart starters

24 Australian Bulk Handling Review: March/April 2009


CONVEYORS

• Consideration for torque mismatch on between the motor controller and mo- Preferably the motor and controller
multi-drive conveyors tor can typically be calculated. Typi- should be procured as a package. If this
• General motor safety factor cal values would be in the order of 2 is not possible, the drive supplier should
to 5%. Other issues such as voltage be advised of the motor details (and
6.1. Gearbox efficiency drop should also be considered when vice versa) to ensure that torque – time
The losses incurred by transfer of pow- establishing possible de-rating factors requirements during starting can be met.
er through a gearbox are well known resulting from electrical issues.
and will not be explained in any detail 6.5. The effects of load sharing
in this paper, apart from saying that 6.4. Losses inherent in motor – Multiple drive systems have a number of
typical bevel helical gearbox efficien- controller combinations factors which will affect the ability of
cies are in the order of 95% to 97%. It is essential to determine the torque the system to load share effectively.
Other types of gearbox may not be available at the motor shaft by consid- • Differences in motor characteristics
as efficient and attention should be paid ering the drive system holistically. A due to manufacturing tolerances
to ensuring the correct figures are used. motor which is controlled by a VVVF or • Differences in drive pulley diameter
Confirm that the procured gearbox has electronic soft start may have its torque due to manufacturing tolerances, wear,
the same efficiency as the design. at start-up de-rated considerably to com- or material build up on the pulleys.
pensate for characteristics of the motor • Differences in oil fill in fluid couplings
6.2. Fluid coupling efficiency – controller combination. Consideration of load sharing has become
Likewise, fluid couplings incur losses The torque available from the motor particularly important more recently
and as these are generally well known, shaft must be calculated on a case by with the modern trend of direct coupling
they will not be discussed in detail in case basis for any particular motor – motors into the drive train. Figure 3
this paper. Typical efficiencies of fluid controller combination. For example, depicts a typical torque-speed curve for
couplings are usually quoted in the motor efficiency ratings are reduced a squirrel cage induction motor. It can be
range of 95% to 97%. Again, confirm on squirrel cage induction motors that seen from this figure that a small change
that the procured coupling has the need to accommodate a VVVF drive. in motor speed at full running conditions
same efficiency as the design. Quoted torque characteristics for will result in a relatively large difference
motors will vary significantly between in torque which can be delivered from
6.3. Line losses between the motor suppliers and motor type. It is essential the motor. If a small resultant change in
controller and motor to ensure that the motor supplied has rotational speed is forced onto the motors
These electrical losses which occur characteristics that match the design. through mismatched pulley diameters or

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Australian Bulk Handling Review: March/April 2009 25


CONVEYORS

Total De-Rating
Motor Controller
(Electronic Soft
Fluid Coupling

General Motor
Start or VVVF)

Safety Factor
De-Rating for
Load Sharing
Line Losses

Tolerance
Efficiency

Efficiency

Electrical
Gearbox

Factor
Table 1. Combined effect of drive de-
rating factors (the example shown is
a direct coupled dual drive with VVVF
running at full speed).

0.97 N/A (1.0) 0.98 0.95 0.98 0.97 0.86

mismatched motors, the effect on load • Another method simply involves mak- An analysis of the combined effects
sharing can be pronounced. ing the drives oversize to allow for of the conveyor resistances and de-rating
In extreme cases, lack of considera- one drive to operate above the normal factors soon reveals that if the motor
tion for load sharing can result in trips load sharing point. Consequences of is sized to meet running requirements
at less than rated capacity. In one case this approach are adverse power fac- only, issues with starting can arise.
known to the authors, a conveyor was tors, lower drive efficiencies, layout Taking the figures above (section
designed using wound rotor induction impacts due to the larger drive dimen- 5), the ratio of break-away resistance to
motors with liquid resistance starters. sions and higher structural loads at running resistance is 1.75. Applying the de-
At rated speed the motors were running motor stall conditions. rating factors this ratio now becomes 2.0.
direct on line (DOL) with no ability to Multiple drives operating using VVVF What appeared to be a safe design now be-
cater for differences in pulley diameter. control should be matched on torque, comes marginal. Add to this the additional
Even in its new condition the conveyor not speed. Attempting to match drives de-rating required to be applied to a VVVF
would not operate at more than 70% on speed may lead to instability and load drive while operating at low frequencies
of its design throughput because one sharing issues. When specifying con- (start up conditions) and the design goes
of the drives was working significantly trollers for multiple drive systems, the from being marginal to failing.
greater than rated full load torque of the maximum expected speed difference For larger drives in appropriate
motor whilst the other motor was only between the primary and secondary pul- applications, wound rotor motors with
operating at less than 50% of its capac- leys should be included in documenta- secondary resistance controllers have
ity. Electronic soft starts with squir- tion sent to the supplier. and can be used as a means to mitigate
rel cage induction motors on multiple the effects mentioned above. For such
drives will also exhibit these problems 6.6. Motor safety factor applications, typical results are: lower
at running conditions. Motor safety factors are often quoted power requirements; higher torque avail-
Fluid couplings which are incorrect- in specifications as a cover-all for some ability; and higher starting availability.
ly filled or poorly maintained can also or all of the above de-rating factors. By It is also important to note that
lead to load sharing issues. taking account of the various de-rating there may be design, cost and schedule
Motors which are direct coupled factors, it can be argued with a degree impacts arising from the necessity to
into the drive train can achieve com- of certainty that a motor safety factor upgrade a “marginal or failed” conveyor
pensation for load sharing by a number lower than what would usually be speci- design. These will affect system hando-
of methods: fied could be used. It is common place ver and may include the following issues:
• Providing a control system which to specify motor safety factors between • Mechanical design – Pulley, shaft,
measures torque differences between 10% and 15%, however, by taking ac- gearbox, coupling, belt, bearing
the drives and adjusts the motor count of the component de-rating factors design and selection
speeds accordingly to target equal a figure of 3% to 5% could be employed. • Electrical design – Motor, VVVF,
load sharing between the drives. Con- switchgear, cabling
trol systems in this category include 6.7. Combined effects of de-rating • Structural – Supports, foundations
– S quirrel cage induction motors us- factors
ing VVVF control. VVVF suppliers By not taking full account of de-rating 8. Energy considerations
usually allow a tolerance of 5% to factors, drive systems can be undersized. There is an ever increasing requirement
10% between the drives for load Table 1 illustrates the combined effects to minimise energy demands plant-wide
sharing. of de-rating factors, which by themselves for financial and environmental reasons.
– Wound rotor induction motors may be relatively inconsequential, but As a result of this, the conveyor designer
(WRIM) using PLC monitored sec- whose combined effect is significant. is faced with the challenge of implement-
ondary resistance controls (SRC). ing appropriate measures to achieve less
This type of system has found 7. Total effect of conveyor energy demanding conveyor systems.
economic application on larger resistances and This may be achieved through care-
drives (> 750 kW) and in locations de-rating factors ful and complete design considerations
where rugged simple components Modern VVVF controllers are generally coupled with good maintenance proce-
become determining factors. With able to produce 150% full load current dures in an attempt to minimise resist-
a motor protection relay (MPR) (FLC) for approximately 60 seconds with ance forces within the conveyor system.
real power or stator current 10 seconds of these 60 seconds being as In addition to this, energy losses in
feedback input, the PLC ensures high as 200% FLC. With the breakdown drive components (de-rating factors pre-
that load sharing is achieved, and torque of most motors being above viously discussed) may also be targeted
the effects of all transients is for 200%, at face value it would not be ex- as potential energy saving areas. These
practical purposes, eliminated. pected that starting would be an issue. topics will be discussed briefly with

26 Australian Bulk Handling Review: March/April 2009


CONVEYORS

some suggestions of possible measures may be minimised by ensuring the con- loading velocity and the belt speed will
to take in the design process. veyor lift is no larger than it needs be. The reduce material accelerating resistances.
designer is reminded to beware of transfer
8.1. Conveyor resistances height requirements to ensure adequate 8.1.4. Avoid excessive skirt lengths in
The power required to run a conveyor material transfer conditions exist at all loading/discharge regions:
is the product of the running resist- loading/discharge points. Skirt lengths in loading regions should
ances (effective tension) and the belt be sized to be long enough to ensure
line velocity. The belt velocity is es- 8.1.2. Avoid over design in belt selection: the burden profile is stabilized on the
sentially pre-determined to achieve a The total mass of the belt of the con- conveyor. Loaded material should also
target throughput with a given burden veyor system can be quite large, par- be clear from feed areas before skirted
cross-section area for that particular ticularly in long conveyors. As the rated sections cease and the material allowed
material. Consequently any reductions strength of the belt increases, so too to relax into its normal profile. Exces-
in demand power of the conveyor need does its mass. For example, an ST500 sive skirt lengths should be avoided as
be achieved by attempting to reduce belt will have a carcass mass of approxi- they will increase material and belt fric-
running resistances. mately 5kg/m2 compared to a figure of tional interactions with the skirtplates,
Basic resistances are typically calcu- approximately 14.5kg/m2 for an ST2000 thereby unnecessarily increasing overall
lated using ISO5048, CEMA or DIN 22 belt. Over-conservatism in selecting belt conveyor resistances. This effect is com-
101 standards. These methods divide safety factors is common and can lead pounded on conveyors with multiple
the overall resistance into component to higher strength but heavier belts than feed or discharge points. Properly de-
resistances or groups which summate required by the conveyor. Ultimately, signed spoon chutes can also eliminate
to give the total resistance force of the the conveyor should not be designed the requirement for skirting altogether.
conveyor. Some suggestions on reduc- with a heavier belt than needed.
ing resistance forces in various areas are 8.1.5. Choose suitable idler type, spacing
outlined below: 8.1.3. Employ efficient material transfer and understand belt sag effects:
points: Suitable idler selection (including bear-
8.1.1. Minimise material lift (slope Efficient material transfers such as spoon ings and seal types) and spacing will
resistances): type chutes, serve to limit the work serve to reduce idler resistance forces.
The resistance due to the lifting of the ma- needed to accelerate the material in the Factors which need be considered
terial (and belt) is often a large component direction of the belt. Any reduction in the in selection include: type of service,
of the total resistance of the conveyor. It speed differential between the material operating conditions, load carried,

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CONVEYORS

belt speed, bearing loading, troughed and suitable cable selection may also • De-rating factors
heights and trough angle (e.g. resist- help reduce these losses. – Gearbox efficiency
ances will increase with an increase – Fluid coupling efficiency
in trough angle). Idler spacing also 8.2.3. Losses in motor-controller – E lectrical line losses (motor con-
impacts on belt sag which is a function combinations: trol to motor)
of idler spacing, belt tension and sup- These losses are inherent in the drive – Load sharing tolerance in the con-
ported weight. Excessive belt sag (>1%) combination and little can be done to trol system
can have an adverse effect on power reduce such losses. A full understanding – De-rating factors associated with
requirements and component reliability. of the effects/losses for a drive combi- the drive control characteristics
High values of sag should be used with nation may help decide its appropriate- (these may be mitigated by using
care and only where it is warranted (e.g. ness for a particular application. WRIM with a SRC on larger drives
conveyor with a tripper to limit empty in some instances)
lift off curve). 8.2.4. Load sharing effects: – G eneral motor safety factor
In addition to the above items, re- These effects exist in multiple drive Although these additional resistances and
ducing material carryback by employing pulley systems where rotational speed de-rating factors are relatively small when
and maintaining adequate belt cleaning variations exist or are forced onto the considered individually, collectively the
systems and monitoring and correcting motors. Some methods to limit these combined result is substantial and can not
belt tracking problems will help reduce effects are to: be ignored.
overall running resistances. • Monitor drive pulley diameters Careful considerations during the
The above items are not an ex- which may vary due to manufactur- design phase of the conveyor combined
haustive list of areas where conveyor ing tolerances, build up or wear with a good maintenance regime over
resistances can be reduced. It is instead • Use identical motor manufacturer/ the conveyor’s life will help ensure the
intended to promote early thinking models and preferably the same demand power of the conveyor is kept to
in the design stages and highlight the fabrication run (consecutive serial a minimum, eliminating sources of un-
impacts design decisions will have on numbers) where possible to limit necessary energy losses.
resistance forces and ultimately power operating variations between motors
requirements of the conveyor system. • Ensure fluid couplings are correctly 10. References
filled and maintained 1. ISO 5048 – 1988 – Continuous mechan-
8.2. Minimising drive de-rating • Employ an adequate control system ical handling equipment – Belt convey-
effects for direct coupled drives which meas- ors with carrying idlers – Calculation of
De-rating of conveyor drives may come ures torque sharing between drives operating power and tensile forces.
from a number of sources depending and adjusts motor speeds accordingly 2. CEMA – Belt Conveyors for Bulk Ma-
on the drive configuration. They are to achieve equal load sharing terials. The Conveyor Manufacturer’s
sources of gratuitous energy losses and The above discussion has provided some Association. 6th Edition.
whilst they cannot be fully eliminated, information on areas of potential energy 3. Manjunath, K.S., Roberts, A.W. – Wall
attempts should be made to minimise saving which the conveyor designer may pressure-feeder load interactions in
their impacts if possible. Section 6 dis- target/consider to achieve a more ef- mass flow hopper/feeder combinations.
cusses various de-rating ficient, less energy demanding conveyor Bulk Solids Handling 6 (1986) 4, pp.
factors. These will each be considered system. However, maximum benefit from 769-775 and 6 (1986) 5, pp. 903-911.
in turn below with some suggestions on these design improvements will only be
how to minimise their impact on the realised if a good maintenance regime is 11. Acknowledgements
drive system: upheld and retained throughout the life Thanks are given to Nicole Hampton
of the conveyor system. (P.Eng) of Synergy Engineering Limited
8.2.1. Fluid coupling and gearbox (Canada) for her assistance in providing
efficiency: 9. Conclusions information on PLC controlled secondary
Efficiency values for these components Undersizing of conveyor drives can be resistance controllers for wound rotor
are typically 95-97%. There is essen- avoided by analysing and accounting for all induction motors.
tially nothing which can be done to conveyor resistances and drive de-rating
improve these values however proper factors. Incorrect analysis or application *Luke Meakin
maintenance schemes and maintaining can result in either a failure to start or is a mechanical
correct fill levels will help ensure ef- failure to run at the specified throughput, engineer at Hatch
ficiencies do not drop below quoted val- especially if the motor size selected is who has worked
ues. Correct lubrication selection will very close to the calculated theoretical on numerous bulk
also affect this value and lubrication conveyor demand power. materials handling
used should be based on manufacturer’s By taking the following resistances projects, primarily
recommendation; higher viscosity oils and de-rating factors into account, a within Queensland.
will consume more energy. designer can confidently predict correct He has experience
drive motor sizing: in complete conveyor design, dynamic
8.2.2. Line losses between motor and • Conveyor resistances analysis, drive system design, bin and
controller: – Running resistances calculated to a feeder design and materials handling
These losses occur between the motor recognised standard and using the trouble-shooting. Luke is currently
controller and motor and are dependent recommended friction coefficients involved through Connell Hatch in the
largely on the line length. As a result, – I nertial resistances during acceleration design of the new Wiggins Island Coal
conveyor drive units should be placed – B reak-away resistances due to Terminal in Gladstone in Queensland.
as close as practically possible to Motor static friction
Control Centres (MCCs) to limit line – Resistances due to full chutes Contact: L
 uke Meakin,
lengths and associated losses. Correct – Appropriate allowance for surge email – LMeakin@hatch.com.au

28 Australian Bulk Handling Review: March/April 2009