Over the years, the Conveyor Manufacturers Association of SA Ltd (CMA) has held regular conferences, seminars and meetings covering various topics of interest and importance to the materials handling and conveyor industry.
Conveyors are highly complex systems, consisting of a large number of components, all intricately linked to provide smooth running and safe operation. If not properly managed, conveyor belt installations are one of the most dangerous areas in a mining or materials handling operation.
Regulations gazetted by the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) and Standards issued by the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) set the parameters to which the industry is expected to adhere. These include stipulations regarding design criteria; component manufacture and maintenance to ensure plant efficiency; and safety measures that prevent injury and loss of life to working personnel. Some of the most predominant failures caused by ineffective safety precautions are lack of trained personnel, irregular maintenance of the system and components, poor risk assessment policies, and inadequate design criteria. Fire is one of the most destructive and hazardous forces, and preventative measures, better equipment, and if appropriate, fire retardant belting is of considerable importance.
At the International Materials handling Conference – Beltcon 18, held in Johannesburg on August 5 and 6, 2015, members of the industry mandated the CMA to investigate two issues. These were preventing runback in conveyors and the nip guard gap.
The CMA hosted an important and successful Industry Indaba in October 2015 to discuss not only these two items, but two more in addition – a report-back to inform industry that the recently repaired mid-scale gallery test apparatus at the SABS is once again available for testing of fire retardant belting; and pull key stations. Delegates from all sectors of the industry attended, and the number of end users represented showed the degree of concern within industry.
The format of the Indaba consisted of four presentations on the above matters of concern, followed by debate from the floor. The four topics on the agenda were:
Part 1 – Legal requirements for preventing runback in conveyors. Simon Curry (Flexco, CMA Chairman).
Part 2 – Legal requirements pertaining to nip guards. Alan Exton (Accrete Consulting).
Part 3 – Legal requirements for testing of fire retardant belting (SANS 971). Paul Nel (ThyssenKrupp).
Part 4 – Legal requirements pertaining to pull key stations. Alan Exton (Accrete Consulting).
Each topic informed delegates of the legal requirements relating to the specific area of concern, which was followed by lively discussion and debate from the floor. Also discussed was the issue of the distance between pull key stations. Legislation prescribes a minimum distance of 100 metres, but often, a minimum distance of 30 metres was thought to be more effective. Clarity was shed on this discrepancy by a pull key manufacturer, who explained that the distance between pull key stations is dictated by the strength of the spring and the influence of pig tails. Another example of conflicting opinions is the installation of anti-runback idlers where there is no legal requirement to do so, particularly since there is equally suitable alternative equipment.
The CMA, again showing its commitment to promoting the excellence of belt conveying in southern Africa, was mandated to establish a working group to further investigate the nip guard gap and pull key stations. These are currently in the process of being formed, and it is envisaged that the working group will consist of all stakeholders, but mostly driven by the users and managed by CMA.
The first meeting is scheduled for December and findings and resolutions made by the working group will be communicated to industry without delay.
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