Top three things to look for in pulley lagging

Flexco suggests three things that mine operators should look out for when selecting the right supplier and pulley-lagging product for its intended application.

As the market becomes more saturated with lagging options, it is hard to know who to trust when it comes to selecting a superior pulley-lagging product.

However, there are three main signs to look out for to ensure you are making the right choice.

If you choose a lagging that doesn’t hold up to your application, unscheduled downtime will become an inescapable problem on site, and you’ll end up with disgruntled clients.

1. Is the lagging internally or externally tested?

It is all too easy to test lagging in house and even easier to position those results to suit a certain product. It’s best practice to look for a supplier who tests their product externally to get independent results.

We’ve made a list of which tests are most important as follows: tensile strength, rubber elongation, bonding strength and chemical composition of tiles.

The first three are pretty standard, but you may not have considered the fourth.

The truth is, the chemical composition of tiles is important to ensure durability and alumina content, while also validating that they bond to the rubber as powerfully as possible.

If ceramic tiles crack or begin to fall out, it is a type of failure that can lead to unscheduled downtime.

This testing should always be compliant to site specifications and, even more importantly, should remain unchanged from batch to batch.

Whether you pay for a poor, medium or high-quality lagging, you should be able to ensure you get the same quality of lagging each time you place an order.

2. Best-in-class manufacturing capabilities

A supplier with highly capable manufacturing operations has many benefits.

The first is that you will be able to customise your lagging solution. Sometimes an off-the-shelf solution is not appropriate.

Companies that manufacture with a high degree of sophistication allow you to discuss your unique and dynamic situation to a regional sales representative, who can convey the message straight to the manufacturing manager to produce your order exactly how you require it.

When slippage occurs, it causes strain on many parts of your conveyor. Quite often this means you need a solution right now.

The ability to produce lagging solutions quickly, while also maintaining a large inventory of standard configurations is also something to investigate with any lagging partner.

It’s also important to understand where your product is coming from.

Sometimes to get to a certain price, the quality of lagging is greatly reduced, and many times unsafe practices are used. 

Be sure to ask these questions of your vendor to ensure your organisation knows the origins of the product in which they are investing: Am I supporting ethical manufacturing processes? Does the manufacturing facility use reputable suppliers of rubber and ceramic? How do I know if quality assurance processes have been followed correctly? Can I ensure my product will arrive as I specified, and on time?

3. Quality assurance

The third and arguably most important factor to look out for is quality assurance. Manufacturing lagging is a big feat – there are varieties of different processes and functions, which ultimately means a variety of different challenges, which can result in a defective product turning up on site.

As a result of all the moving parts – it’s almost necessary that your lagging provider has a dedicated quality assurance engineer.

Without the expertise of an engineer checking your lagging for quality issues before it is shipped to your facility, you may encounter issues further along the line when the pulley is already lagged and installed on site.

An iron ore mine site in the Pilbara of Western Australia was aware of the importance of their lagging choice, employing Flexco to ensure they can protect their head pulley and combat belt slippage. 

Flexco lagging was applied as part of the site spec on a 1600mm belt width running at five metres per second, 24 hours seven days a week.

Flex-Lag was the specified product of choice for this large mine site. The lagging was specified as a precaution to protect the steel pulley drum and combat belt slippage.

The 80 per cent coverage dimple ceramic Flex-Lag was installed in 2001.

The lagging boasted the following benefits: the moulded ceramic dimples grip the belt’s underside, for positive traction and no slippage.

Eighty per cent tile coverage features the highest coefficient of friction available in lagging materials – two to three times the friction of rubber resulting in lower energy costs and the cold vulcanisation process makes on site, in-situ installation fast, simple and efficient and cheaper than other alternatives.

Although the main goal was to protect the pulley and combat spillage, the most astounding feature of the product was the increased cleaning efficiency of the primary cleaner.

The near-perfect condition of the lagging after nearly 20 years in service has allowed the primary belt cleaner to have superior blade-to-belt contact.

Another result that was unexpected from the site was the longevity of the lagging given the harsh iron ore material being conveyed. Installed in May 2001, this lagging has proven to last nearly 20 years, not uncommon for Flex-Lag.

This article will appear in the April issue of Australian Mining.

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