Automated monitoring and reporting system for conveyor belt cleaners

Employees and technicians access information via their mobile phone.

Martin Engineering continues to be a leader of the materials handling sector with its latest innovation that enhances the cleaning of conveyor belts at mine sites and in other industries.

In a move to continue leadership in the development and implementation of advanced technologies for conveyors and other bulk material handling applications, Martin Engineering has announced a belt cleaner position indicator that monitors the blade, tracking and reporting remaining service life.

The intuitive Martin N2 Position Indicator (PI) monitors primary belt cleaner blades, notifying Martin Engineering service technicians and plant operations personnel when re-tensioning or replacement is required and/or when abnormal conditions occur. 

The PI can be part of a new installation or directly retrofitted to existing mainframes that use the company’s replacement blades. 

Managers and service technicians can quickly access info on any networked cleaner via mobile phone. 

With approximately 1000 operating systems currently in service and installations continuing daily, the technology has been embraced by bulk material handlers in a wide range of industries and applications. 

Designed in-house by the engineering team at Martin’s Centre for Innovation (CFI), the N2 Position Indicator is produced solely in company-owned facilities to ensure the highest standards for quality control. 

In fact, the firm also engineered and built the proprietary equipment used to manufacture the new devices.

Martin offers the equipment, monitoring service and batteries free of charge to qualifying customers. 

The company will also support the PI components and provide customer alerts without cost as needed, with mainframes and tensioners replaced free for users of Martin belt cleaner blades. 

“There are no annual maintenance fees, and no add-on charges for cell phone access,” Martin Engineering global marketing director Brad Pronschinske confirms. “Most customers using our cleaner blades can take advantage of this technology.” 

Position indicators can be mounted anywhere from three to 800 metres from the cellular gateway, and the robust, sealed construction means it is virtually immune from damage.

The N2 PI notifies service personnel when a cleaner requires re-tensioning or replacement.

 

Up to 50 units can be monitored by a single gateway connecting to the Internet, usually located at the highest point in the plant, where the cell signal is strongest.

The system does not require a cellular line for each PI, instead communicating via radio frequency from each sensor to the gateway. 

Operating independently of any plant communications infrastructure, the small physical size and low power requirements deliver a projected battery life of two years. 

The self-contained model was developed by Martin in order to minimise the dependency on in-plant resources. Only the gateway requires a constant 110-volt power point.

The device eliminates the need for manual inspections by giving technicians precise information, delivering critical real-time intelligence and reducing exposure to moving conveyors, improving both efficiency and safety. 

Maintenance planning is simplified by having detailed information available on demand, allowing service personnel to deliver and install replacement wear parts during scheduled outages. 

Alerts are also provided automatically when: A blade change is required; re-tensioning is needed; a cleaner has been backed off the belt; there is an abnormal condition: substantial change in temperature occurs; and batteries need replacing.

Conveyor evolution

The Position Indicator is just one component of the company’s decades-long push to develop new and evolving technologies to improve bulk material handling and reduce the associated hazards. 

It’s part of the same product family as Martin’s automatic tensioning system to continuously maintain optimum blade pressure without any operator intervention.

“This capability is a true enabler, bringing a number of benefits. Belt cleaner inspection time is basically eliminated, as maintenance personnel no longer need to physically view the cleaner to determine the tension or wear status,” Pronschinske says. 

“It also reduces the time workers need to spend near the moving conveyor, helping to minimise the potential for accidents.”

Pronschinske describes the innovation as a game-changer in the industry, with a positive impact on productivity, operating costs and safety. 

Relying on actual operating conditions instead of human judgement to monitor blade wear and tension for optimal cleaning performance, the indicator maximises the blade’s usable surface area and reports with certainty when a blade is nearing the end of its useful life.

Delivering instant, continuous feedback while eliminating guesswork – tracking the individual performance and status of each cleaner – the detailed history also provides a maintenance log with service dates and work performed.

The result is an improved return on belt cleaner investments. Replacement parts can be scheduled for just-in-time delivery, and installation can occur during planned downtime instead of emergency stoppages. 

“By monitoring the rotation of the belt cleaner mainframe, the N2 Position Indicator helps managers plan tensioner adjustments and blade replacements during scheduled outages,” Pronschinske continues.

The Position Indicator itself is a self-contained system that does not require an external power source. Manufactured from a proprietary grade of polyurethane that is very resistant to bumps, shocks and knocks, the device is extremely robust.

This material was chosen after Martin investigated numerous options and determined that other materials were simply not able to handle the challenges of severe operating environments.

Able to handle a typical mining environment, the device can be installed inside or outside the transfer chute. It has also been designed to be reliable in the challenging ambient environment found at operator sites, such as handling wet and sticky materials.

“The system recognises how much rotation is acceptable before tensioner adjustment is required,” Pronschinske explains. 

“It allows our service technicians to know exactly when a belt cleaner needs replacement, even before the customer does. And if excessive movement is detected on any cleaner, an alarm notice will automatically be sent to alert operators to check it immediately.” 

The software tracks and displays blade status, remaining life, next scheduled tensioning, run time, wear rate, cleaner model, blade type and a number of other details.

“No other manufacturer has done more to advance the science of bulk material handling over the last three quarter of a century, and Martin Engineering’s workshops have been teaching customers how to operate and maintain clean and safe belt conveyors for nearly 30 years,” Pronschinske concludes. 

The company’s Foundations reference books are an internationally-recognised resource for safety, maintenance and operations training, with more than 20,000 print copies in circulation around the world. 

Like all Martin products, the new N2 products are covered by the firm’s Absolutely No Excuses guarantee.

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