that could deliver a high level of performance but would be available at a lower price point than premium cleaners on the market at the time. The program resulted in the 2009 commercialization of a new product line that directly addresses those goals, broadening the range of affordable belt cleaning options. Another developmental effort was initiated in response to a growing demand for tertiary cleaning systems, a trend driven in part by environmental, regulatory and safety pressures to improve conveyor efficiency and reduce fugitive material. From this program
came a new style of scavenger conveyor design that captures dust and carry back which would otherwise be lost, returning it to the process and reducing waste. The new system measures just 13 inches in height, allowing installation in tight spaces to fit underneath existing conveyor lines or in low overhead environments. Also introduced in 2009, the new design helps prevent fugitive material from encapsulating belt cleaners and other components, minimizing dust and reducing the exposure of maintenance personnel to potential hazards from working around moving equipment.
The CFI has also been a key to the design and development of an entirely new type of conveyor architecture, one that evaluates every element – including both functional and structural components – and seeks not only to improve performance, but also to find ways to deliver greater safety, dust control, ease of service and upgradability. By matching the fundamental design methodology with specific customer needs for a clean, safe and productive system, this new conveyor architecture represents a cost-competitive system that out-performs traditional designs, yet delivers the flexibility of easy modification to solve operation-specific problems. Future Development While tremendous strides have been made toward cleaner, safer and more productive coal handling, ongoing CFI research provides some hint at the achievements yet to be reached. Researchers are now using their understanding of material characteristics as a step toward greater automation and the development of “intelligent” coal handling systems. Among the innovations now being studied is the design and implementation of technology that “senses” subtle variations in conveyed material properties. CFI scientists are developing closed-loop control systems that can actually make equipment adjustments on the fly. The development of such “smart” systems may include automated adjustment of belt cleaners, belt support, belt sealing and transfer chute technology. These developments are intended to deliver improved maintenance efficiency, reduced downtime and prolonged life of wear parts, improving system throughput and creating a safer environment in which to maintain and operate material handling systems. Perhaps more than anything else, the CFI represents an unmatched commitment to research and training, where customers and equipment suppliers can collaborate on technologies to handle greater amounts of material with continuously improving efficiency and safety. By reducing downtime, material waste and manpower requirements, the facility is contributing to greater productivity and lower cost of ownership for coal processors across North America. u Jim Turner is VP Sales & Marketing at Martin Engineering (www.martin-eng.com)
american coal council