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Optimizing Conveyor Belt Cleaner Tension to Maximize Performance and Service Life

Maintaining correct and consistent blade pressure is key to effective belt cleaning

Given the number of conveyor-related injuries that occur during routine maintenance and cleanup, every bulk material handler has a vested interest in technologies to help reduce hazards and prevent injuries. Seemingly mundane tasks such as adjusting belt cleaners and removing spillage often require employees to work in close proximity to the moving conveyor, where even incidental contact can result in serious injury in a split second. Further, spillage can contribute to the risk of fire by interfering with pulleys and idlers and by providing potential fuel. Even worse, in confined spaces, airborne particles can create the right ingredients for an explosion.

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Winning the War Against Wear

‘The best defense is a good offense’ applies to many activities, including games and military combat. Metal wear generally can’t be defeated, but proactive product selection can be effective in battling abrasion to a draw.

Mining takes its wealth from the Earth, which in turn imposes its own expensive toll on the equipment used to dig, move and crush coal and rock — wearing down parts and equipment at a rate that costs the mining industry untold millions in replacement costs and downtime. In the most extreme mining conditions, it can be a race between abrasion and corrosion to see which process can destroy a part faster (See sidebar article, p. 33).

Miners typically employ a three-pronged approach — prevention, detection and repair — to battle the problem, and industry suppliers are providing new weapons in all three areas. Here’s a look at the latest wear-protection products and technology.

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Booyco Implements PDS in South Africa

A new system gains traction among underground coal operators

Booyco Electronics announced in July that its Proximity Detection System (PDS) had been successfully implemented at South African miner Sudor Coal’s Weltevreden operation. The mine, near Emalahleni, has three sections working a seam at 60 meters (m) below the surface. Rollout started in March 2016 and occurred in two phases, Booyco reported. As a mobile equipment detection system, PDS offers a number of benefits, and could help ensure the miner meets national government regulations mandating such systems at mines across the country, Booyco reported.

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Saving Lives on the Path to Automation

Collision warning systems, however austere, can put a miner on the path to greater automation

There is a balancing act when it comes to delivering information. The suppliers that sell proximity detection systems in the mining sector are onto this, and the best-selling systems can be succinctly described as “simple.” While the components may be stunningly space-age, even satellite-based, the information the operator gets is often as sparse as it is fast. As Fabien Kritter, product manager, safety and autonomous solutions, Hexagon Mining, put it, it should instantly answer one and only one question. “Where is the other vehicle? Should I look on the right? Should I look at the left? Where should I look?” Nonetheless, almost paradoxically, the same proximity detection systems are often designed with a series of graduating upgrades in mind, in anticipation of the miner ultimately desiring eventual full automation. So, while today they are designed to save lives, they are also designed to someday fit into a bigger system where lives are no longer threatened at all. This sharp duality is illustrated in a handful of systems reviewed below.

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America’s Largest Coal Operators Finally Feel Some Relief

Demand growth and lower costs are improving the outlook in the Powder River Basin

When the prospects for coal dimmed to their lowest point in 2016, the large western operators felt the negative impact just like their counterparts in the East, except on a much larger scale. A total of 16 mines spread across the Powder River Basin (PRB) in Wyoming and Montana produced 313.6 million tons last year, which amounts to about 42% of total U.S. coal production (738 million tons). Production from this group dropped 85 million tons (21%) from 398.6 million tons in 2015, which had already decreased 5% or 19.5 million tons between 2014 and 2015.

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Bluefield Coal Show Preview

More than 170 exhibitors will showcase their services and equipment at the 22nd Bluefield Coal Show September 13-15. As usual, the show will be held on the grounds at the Brushfork Armory-Civic Center in Bluefield, West Virginia.

“Changes in policy, at the national and state levels, have provided the coal industry a much-needed boost allowing for further promotion, development and extraction of the region’s leading natural resource,” said Joshua Cline, president and CEO of the Greater Bluefield Chamber of Commerce, which organizes the show. “We are excited to offer what is truly a coal show for coal people in Bluefield, the heart of the coalfields.”

Cline said about 20 of this year’s exhibitors are new to the show.

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