Enhancing conveyor safety with the right backstop solution

Altra Motion Australia has supplied the largest backstop the company has ever installed in Australia to a major gold producer.

Backstops – or holdbacks – are critical components for any mine site that relies on conveyor belts for materials handling. While most commonly used as an anti-runback device to prevent reverse movement of belts in inclined conveyors, backstops are also deployed on flat overland conveyors to avoid the severe shock loading on start-up.

Altra Motion Australia, the local subsidiary of global company Altra Industrial Motion, has been active in the bulk handling space for more than 85 years. The company specialises in backstopping technology and has introduced a number of well-regarded backstop brands – namely Formsprag Clutch, Marland Clutch and Stieber – to the global market.

These brands provide a range of backstopping solutions, including low-speed, high-speed (internal) and high-speed (external) backstops. While low-speed backstops are installed directly on the pulley, high-speed backstops mount onto the gear box of the conveyor drive and work together to stop product rollback on a stopped conveyor or in case of drive failure.

The Altra backstopping products are widely used on inclined conveyor drives and bucket excavators in both open pit and underground coal, copper, nickel, gold and iron ore mines, processing plants and shore-to-ship loading and unloading facilities.

Altra Motion Australia has supplied the largest backstop that the company has ever installed to the Australian market to a major gold producer.

The Marland backstop, a BC MA roller-type, can handle backstopping torques over 1.2 million newton-metres.

To enable the backstop to handle such a high torque load, the unit was built with a shaft size of 400 millimetres and a torque arm length of nearly four metres, measured to the centerline of the bore, according to Paul Pavlou, national contracts manager at Altra Motion Australia.

“The backstop unit itself measures 1.2 metres in length, 1.4 metres in width and 67 centimetres in depth and weighs over five tonnes,” he adds.

Marland BC MA bearing supported backstops are designed to be mounted on the drive. The self-contained, oil lubricated units feature a grease labyrinth that prevents dust from attacking oil lip seals.

Pavlou says the backstop unit installed on the mine site is designed to last at least 15 to 20 years without requiring any major repair or replacement.

“Altra Motions Australia is currently working with the client to formulate a maintenance plan, which would include annual inspections of the backstops and the brakes on the same conveyor,” he adds.

Altra Motion Australia national sales manager, Rex Sinclair says the strength of the company lies not just in providing a wide portfolio of backstopping solutions, but also in supporting customers with a complete servicing package.

“The Altra Motion Australia team consists of well-trained and seasoned sales engineers. When these engineers visit any site or interact with customers, they understand the customer’s needs and then work with the brands to provide the right solution,” he says.

Sinclair says the team helped a mining company find reliable replacements for its existing backstops, which helped reduce maintenance costs considerably.

“This customer was faced with the issue that their existing backstops needed to be replaced every two years. This frequent replacement was costing them in downtime and repair costs,” he explains.

“Our team helped develop a replacement backstop that would fit in the same envelope and use the same mounting and anchor points as the existing competitor units. The new backstops don’t need frequent inspections and the customer is guaranteed to get a service life of 10 years or more from them.”

In addition to sales offices across Australia, Altra Motion Australia has service workshops in Perth, Sydney and Mackay, where the service technicians are trained in overhauling the backstops for repair or rebuild under the supervision of service managers. The technicians also frequently visit sites to offer on-site maintenance services.

“All of our maintenance and overhaul team members are trained to handle any technical issues with backstops. When they visit the mine sites, they can do anything from commissioning new backstops to carrying out routine servicing or fault finding,” says Sinclair.

“At the workshop, they can overhaul backstops back to new condition using genuine parts covered with a factory warranty.”

Where an application requires unique backstop solutions that are not readily available, Sinclair says the team at Altra Motion Australia can go back to the design engineers at each brand’s factory to works out a custom-built solution for the customer.

“When we sell backstops, we don’t just sell a unit. We also support our customers throughout the product’s lifespan, from cradle to grave. Our aim is to provide the best backstopping solutions in Australia and Altra Motion undeniably have the experience to support that goal,” Sinclair concludes.

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