Custom conveyor solution drives improved reliability and uptime for mine site

Custom conveyor solution drives improved reliability and uptime for mine site

“There is no contingency circuit, meaning if there is a breakdown of these conveyors, the site will stop producing,” explains Sam Wilkinson, when asked how critical the conveyor system is in a large mining operation that he works with in North Queensland. This is why the site – which relies on a number of these conveyors to transport crushed concentrate – consulted with the CBC Townsville branch about a shaft mounted gearbox replacement.

“This site had a breakdown, and as downtime costs can run into hundreds of thousands of dollars per hour, the time it took to replace the existing unit was deemed unacceptable,” Sam expounded.  “The 24 hours plus downtime and lost production period resulted from a combination of factors, but was mainly due to the gearbox being jammed on the conveyor head drum shaft.”

As the CBC Mining Manager for the North Queensland region, Sam worked with a team of CBC engineers to custom-design a solution that would meet the site requirements and resolve the critical conveyor issue.

“There are many different configurations available for a head drum drive such as this, so we presented a few options and they chose the rigid coupling type. As the conveyor head drum shaft needed to be modified to fit the rigid coupling, engineering was required to prove the assembly was capable of not only transmitting the required power but accepting the overhung load,” he further explained. “CBC designed the system using existing components and added the coupling, then we manufactured the complete package and assembled it in our workshop.”

A key component was the gearbox itself – the Fenner® SMSR PowerPLUS. According to Sam, the customer had previously used the Fenner gearbox and wanted to continue using this particular gearbox in the newly designed assembly.

“The Fenner brand is synonymous with quality in heavy industry. The gearboxes in this application have been in service for many years and are extremely reliable,” he says. “The decision to maintain the Fenner brand driving these critical conveyors shows the trust in the reliability of the name.”

Steve Hittmann, who is the National Product Manager for Mechanical Drive Systems and Belt Drives for CBC Australia’s holding company, Motion Asia Pacific, concurs that the Fenner brand is highly reputed for its quality. In fact, Motion Asia Pacific holds the Fenner Power Transmission (FPT) licence within the Asia Pacific region.

“We are proud to have an association with such an esteemed name in the mechanical power transmission industry. For many years, the Fenner name has been associated with the FPT Quality Assurance Initiative which forms the foundation on which our complete power transmission range is constructed,” says Steve. “The simple objective of the FPT Quality Assurance Initiative is to ensure that Fenner power transmission products perform cost effectively, from product selection, through to purchase, installation, operation, maintenance, and ultimately decommissioning, to deliver superb customer value underpinned by engineering excellence born of many decades’ experience.”

In relation to the gearbox used in this particular North Queensland mining application, Steve says the Fenner SMSR PowerPLUS is a good fit.

“The Fenner SMSR PowerPLUS offers a rugged design and a 50% increase in power to weight ratio compared with older versions. It’s also more compact for easier handling and features an increased range of bore sizes from 20mm to 190mm,” he expands. “With a torque capacity up to 45,000Nm and the optional Taper-Grip Bush for easy on and off, it’s the perfect choice for this type of mining application.”

However, the solution provided to the mining customer, came as a direct result of the combined in-house capabilities of CBC – which includes the supply of the Fenner gearbox – as well as the relationship between the CBC Townsville branch and customer.

“We’ve been working with this site for decades. As we’re on site a lot, we have regular conversations about how we can improve the reliability of the plant,” explains Sam. “This particular issue surfaced from us being out on site with the customer.”

The benefits to the customer have been manifold, but uptime and reliability improvements are foremost in the advantages.

“This engineered solution has had many benefits to the customer, with cost savings extending across the project. Initially, CBC saved the site expenditure by utilising existing assets which also reduced the time spent by site engineers on change management processes and in conducting risk assessments,” says Sam. “There are multiple conveyors with this assembly which means the spares required are minimal, all the parts are interchangeable, and that means reduced inventory holdings. However, the largest cost savings will be realised upon fittings in an urgent change out. Although in-situ installation has not been timed as yet, it is estimated the change out will be a fraction of the time. And less downtime means more uptime and machine availability!”

For Sam, being able to provide a turnkey solution as described above and see those benefits come into fruition for a customer, is what his job is all about. And he loves it.

“I really enjoy completing projects that include many of our internal and external resources and result in cost savings and reliability improvements for our customers,” he summarises. “CBC has grown to a company that now has a complete asset lifecycle offering. The knowledge and capabilities available within our organisation are really second to none and it is very rewarding utilising the company as a resource.”