Innovative Aggregate Conveyor Health Management Technology

We could be accused of ‘teaching granny to such eggs’ here, but for those who aren’t in-the-know, over time, conveyor belts develop defects that affect the performance of operations and productivity. So, the big question we hear is ‘what can be done to monitor for these defects and measure the impact they have on performance?’ In this post, we take a look at aggregate conveyor health management technology that utilises innovative fibre optic cable technology, as a distributed acoustic sensor addresses the problem by predicting mechanical failures before they occur.

Conveyor belt replacement and downtime have a detrimental impact on operations and none more so than for aggregate conveyors. For this reason, it is essential to take preventative measures. Continuous monitoring of any conveyor belt ensures the safe and cost-effective operation of the conveyor system well into the future.

The Challenges of Existing Condition Monitoring

Condition monitoring systems entail various detection methods including regular visual inspections. However, conventional monitoring methods are unreliable, time-consuming, labour-intensive, costly, and often hazardous. In addition, they rely on hearing, infrared cameras, or microphones, which are flawed as worn bearings do not always emit heat, background noise often creates microphone interference, and people are not perfect.

A conveyor belt is one of the most expensive components of the system and after a period of regular usage they develop defects, which affect the performance of operations and productivity. These defects include mis-tracking, slippage, blockages, and bearing roller failures.

An Innovative Approach

This project involved a novel approach by Future Fibre Technologies (FFT), who are manufacturers of complete fibre-optic intrusion detection systems. They specialise in developing superior fibre optic technologies for sensitivity and reliable probability of detection. For this aggregate conveyer project, they focused on designing detection methods with the following criteria:

  • Accurate, predictive, actionable, and quantifiable data provision
  • Dependable and easy to install
  • Durable and cost-effective
  • Adaptable

The project should also significantly reduce production downtime, costs associated with production delays, and potentially catastrophic damage like fires. Moreover, it was to increase the overall manufacturing performance.

Implementing the Conveyor Health Management System

Recent studies show that up to ninety percent of machinery malfunctions are predictable and hence avoidable with adequate maintenance. Preferably conducted online and without service interruption.

The solution was to use FFT’s Aura IQ award winning fibre optic detection and sensing technology platform. Running on Advantech’s PCE-5129 industrial grade single board computer and ACP-4010 4U rackmount chassis with dual system support the FFT advanced analytic software. Furthermore, it provides cloud connectivity to create an IoT Cloud Edge sensing solution.

The optical fibre cable uses a Distributed Acoustic Sensor (DAS) to record sound and vibration signals along the cable’s length. The sensing fibre cable attaches to a conveyor structure to provide unique sensing points every 0.5m. This combination delivers high resolution, continuous, and real-time measurements to the central equipment and software.

In real-time, the condition monitoring system provides information to operations and maintenance personnel by examining input data from each sensor. It supports the prediction of failures long before they occur, allowing for planned maintenance and servicing. Thus, preventing disruption, and overall cost associated with bearing failures.

System Benefits

Conveyor belt condition monitoring system help significantly reduce production down times and reduce overall labour costs whilst maximising productivity. In addition, the system provides visionary reporting, enabling timely and minimal cost maintenance activities. The customer receives a complete solution using ultra-sensitive fibre optic sensors enabling comprehensive MTTF data on rollers and bearings at all points on conveyors.

The system networks over the cloud, uses IoT, and integrates into the existing production and manufacturing control systems. As a result, the successful implementation of the monitoring system enabled by Advantech delivers high reliability, improved safety, minimised maintenance costs, and improved operations to the customer.

The solution is flexible and suitable for deployment in other plants (including new and existing systems). With this solution, the customer can experience an excellent return of investment in an estimated six-month period or less.

Contact us to understand how BPX can lend innovative solutions to your aggregate handling processes:

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