Spillage Control at Transfer Point
January 21, 2015
While belt conveyor systems remain one of the most reliable and affordable methods for moving bulk materials, spillage is still a leading cause of loss in material handling plants. While many plants accept the presence of fugitive materials like spillage and dust as simply part of the operation, these losses are a constant drain on the conveyor system when left unchecked. Transfer points account for the most leakage and spillage, and such losses can become particularly expensive over time. Here are just a few ways that spillage and dust from leaking transfer points can impact a conveyor line.
Increased Cost of Conveyor Maintenance
Cleaning up spillage and dust increases labor costs and, in some cases, may require the cost of additional equipment, such as wheeled loaders or trucks. Not only is cleanup a costly chore, but escaped material can accumulate on conveyor components and cause severe damage. Idlers can fail when fugitive materials clog or bury them, causing idler bearings to seize and damage the belt. Also, the malfunction of pulleys and idlers increases friction against the conveyor belt, which drains power at a much faster rate. For factories or plants that anticipate damage from fugitive materials, the cost of prematurely replacing equipment financially and in production-time can be significant too. In short, spillage at transfer points leads to increased costs to maintain potentially damaged equipment as well as increased costs and loss of labor due to cleanup.
Heightened Risk of Danger
The Mine Safety and Health Administration estimates roughly half of the accidents that occur around conveyor belts are attributed to repairs and cleanup of spillage and buildup. Loose materials underfoot are also principle causes of slips and fall accidents. Industrial accidents are an expensive burden, and the control of spillage from transfer points greatly reduces workplace injury.
It’s no secret that equipment in a state of disrepair causes a lapse in your plant’s productivity. Personnel must be called away from other tasks to clean spillage or repair equipment, and the entire line may be completely shut down if the repair requires it. However, spillage also adds to production deficiency in other ways. The material that makes it from the loading process to the other end of the belt only has to be handled once, when it is first placed on the belt. By handling the material as few times as possible, efficiency is at its maximum and productivity is high. Fugitive material, on the other hand, has to be either reclaimed or disposed of, and the area cleaned. Material that can be introduced back into the system requires additional handling and is more expensive to recover than it is to have never lost it to spillage in the first place. Materials that are classified as hazardous waste when spilled from the conveyor belt, such as limestone or sand, must be disposed of at a high cost. Furthermore, even non-hazardous material can suffer degradation or contamination when reclaimed from the ground, making the labor and time used to gather the material a waste.
Airborne Dust is a Problem
Airborne dust can cause many issues for bulk handling plants. Fugitive dust is a major health risk for workers who are exposed for extended periods of time, and dust that escapes the plant is harmful to the environment and may net stiff penalties from government regulatory agencies. In addition, a concentrated amount of dust in confined spaces can cause explosions that are both dangerous and expensive to deal with in the aftermath. The Clean Air Act authorizes the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate air quality standards, and most bulk handling facilities are required to keep dust levels in enclosed areas below two milligrams per cubic meter. Failure to control dust effectively is both expensive and dangerous.
It can be difficult to achieve maximum material control, but we can help. At The ACT Group, we provide spillage and dust control solutions for bulk handling plants. Applied Conveyor Technology is the authorized West Coast distributor for many lines of dust control components. We offer a number of customized recommendations to boost efficiency, safety and productivity. ACT’s in-house Engineering Department is ready to help you design a new conveyor system with improved spillage control today!