In mining operations, achieving efficient production and safe working conditions are paramount. A critical yet often overlooked factor in meeting these goals is proper conveyor belt tracking. Effective tracking helps mining conveyor belts operate smoothly and prevents costly downtime, equipment damage, and material loss. It also reduces safety hazards for workers caused by misaligned belts.
This guide provides mine site managers and technicians an informational overview of tracking fundamentals and recommendations for optimizing alignment. By applying the key principles covered here, personnel can ensure their conveyor belts support greater operational efficiency and safety across the mine site.
What Is Conveyor Belt Tracking?
Conveyor belt tracking refers to the proper alignment and positioning of belts within the conveyor system. It involves keeping belts centred on rollers and pulleys to prevent veering or drift. Effective tracking ensures the uninterrupted flow of materials and prevents unnecessary belt wear.
In mining settings, proper tracking is crucial for safe, efficient operations. It helps avoid spillage that can cause environmental issues and material losses while minimising equipment downtime and maintenance needs. This maximises production and reduces costs associated with belt repairs or replacements. Precise tracking also prevents bottlenecks, lag times, and other issues that can slow operations.
Diligent tracking benefits mining sites through increased operational efficiency, extended equipment lifespan, and optimal output.
What Are the Consequences of Poor Belt Tracking?
Poor belt tracking can lead to a host of short- and long-term operational consequences for Australian mine sites, including unplanned downtime and increased costs. Tracking issues typically arise from the following problems:
Increased Wear and Tear
Neglecting proper belt tracking leads to abrasive contact between the belt and the conveyor components. This friction results in premature wear and tear, necessitating frequent component repairs and replacements. These solutions incur substantial maintenance costs.
A misaligned conveyor belt can cause materials to spill over the edges, leading to the loss of valuable resources and posing safety hazards to staff. Material spillage can also contaminate surrounding areas and harm the environment. This has a flow-on effect to clean up costs and material hazards in operator access areas.
Inefficient tracking impedes the smooth flow of materials, reducing operational efficiency. This can bottleneck production and hinder the mining operation’s overall productivity. This is also an increase in power consumption to operate inefficient conveyor systems not working to correct design standards or specifications.
For example, if a poorly aligned belt is constantly experiencing blockages or belt slippage, the fixes usually involve downtime, which means lost revenue.
The mining industry is not short of safety risks, but conveyor belts shouldn’t be a cause for concern. However, poor conveyor belt tracking can easily lead to operator injury. If an employee is injured, the flow-on effect could be massive – including paying out injury settlements and facing legal ramifications due to the poor standards or breached policies on site. Misaligned belts mean operator intervention to correct, sometimes creating behavioural risks of working on or near live conveyors.
Misaligned belts, damaged components, and spillage of materials may also leave staff lacking in confidence and reluctant to complete the tasks they’re required.
Conveyor Belt Tracking Guide – Pros and Cons of Various Systems
To tackle the challenge of conveyor belt tracking, various tracking systems have been developed, each with its unique set of advantages and disadvantages. Let’s explore these systems:
Troughing and training idlers
Training idlers are equipped with mechanisms to automatically adjust the belt’s position additions that guide the belt by steering it towards the centre of the conveyor, ensuring alignment. However, they may not be suitable for all types of materials, and misalignment will still easily occur.
V-guides are designed to provide consistent belt alignment, but they are more complex and expensive than most systems.
Automatic tracking systems
For the highest level of tracking precision, automatic tracking systems use sensors and actuators to continuously monitor and adjust the belt’s position, providing precise tracking.
These systems are the most comprehensive solutions available, ensuring your belt stays aligned at all times, avoiding unnecessary downtime and therefore loss of revenue. The only ‘con’ is the upfront cost is high, but the monetary return through enhanced efficiency and less maintenance is well worth the initial cost.
We explore these advanced tracking systems a little further down in this conveyor belt tracking guide.
Conveyor Belt Tracking Guide – Basic Techniques:
Achieving optimal conveyor belt tracking requires a combination of the right tracking system and diligent maintenance. Here are some best practices to ensure your mining operation benefits from impeccable belt tracking:
Implement a proactive maintenance schedule that includes inspections, adjustments, and component replacements as needed to keep the conveyor belt on track.
Train your personnel to identify tracking issues and make necessary adjustments promptly. Quick responses can prevent costly downtime.
Technology has come a long way since the early days of mining. Consider investing in advanced technology that offers real-time monitoring and automatic adjustments for precise tracking.
Advanced Belt Tracking Solutions
An advanced conveyor belt tracking system is the ultimate, end-solution for all mining conveyor belts. An automatic conveyor tracking system like Track Straight is at the forefront of mine site technology and provides the best result with the least intervention. Track Straight also offers a mechanical tracking system which provides the same accurate results but requires an operator.
Track Straight Automatic Conveyor Tracking System
The Track Straight patented Automatic Conveyor Tracking System by Innovative Mining Services is a specialised solution that detects conveyor belt drift and adjusts automatically. Where tracking issues are a result of different or inconsistent feed, this system will detect and adjust along the route.
Overall productivity improves, as does workplace safety, meaning everyone on site is better off with this solution in place. This is undoubtedly the best solution in any conveyor belt tracking guide. Learn more about the Track Straight Automatic Conveyor Tracking System.
Track Straight Mechanical Conveyor Tracking System
Innovative Mining Services’ patented mechanical conveyor tracking system allows operators to manually adjust a conveyor with ease. This system avoids many traditional tracking issues such as ropes, and the risks associated with tying up tracking frames.
The Mechanical Conveyor Tracking System removes the need to isolate a conveyor belt to fix belt drift and uses safe online conveyor belt tracking to enhance productivity and safety. Find out more about the Track Straight Mechanical Conveyor Tracking System.
Troubleshooting And Problem-Solving
If you’re frequently having issues with belt drift and overall conveyor belt efficiency, you may find our Conveyor Belt Tracking Troubleshooting article useful. Here, we discuss the best techniques to solve a variety of belt tracking issues including drift, spillage, and tension problems.
Takeaways From This Conveyor Belt Tracking Guide
While conveyor belt tracking may seem like a minor aspect of mining operations, its significance cannot be overstated. Poor tracking leads to a cascade of issues, from increased maintenance costs to decreased efficiency. By understanding the benefits of advanced tracking systems like Track Straight, your mining operations can maintain impeccable conveyor belt tracking.
Chasing a smoother, safer, and more profitable mining operation? Get in touch with us today.