Practical Belt Conveyor Design Decisions

Jerry Z. Lu,
Abstract Belt conveyor design involves the evaluation of belt tensions, drive selection, pulley configuration and other technical issues. The conveyor belt tensions vary with conveyor layout, drive pulley configuration, belt selection, and idler selection. The decisions for the belt conveyor construction always take all technical, commercial and maintenance issues into consideration. A good conveyor design shall provide required operational features and at the same time be cost effective. The common issues for an engineer to face during belt conveyor design include: (1) Conveyor drive selection – drive with fluid couplings or variable frequency drives; (2) Drive system configurations - single pulley large drives or dual pulley smaller drives, if intermediate tripper booster drives shall be applied, what power ratio should be adopted for a multi-drive conveyor; (3) Gear reducers – shaft mount drives, right angle gear reducers or parallel gear reducers; (4) Drive pulley lagging - ceramic lagging or rubber lagging; If ceramic lagging, what type should be used. (5) Conveyor speed variation – If conveyors run at variable speeds, faster speed/lower percentage loading or slower speed/higher percentage loading. In many cases the decision maker find themselves in a dilemma – technical benefits vs. financial benefits, capital cost vs. operational cost, and capital and operational cost vs. maintenance effort. Although many conveyor design topics above have been discussed in numerous technical papers and design reference books, management executives and inexperienced engineers may be confused and feel lost. The consultation of people around them may lead to different opinions since experiences tend to vary, making the decision making process complicated. The purpose of this paper is to simplify these complicated issues and provide useful guidelines for belt conveyor design. This paper focuses more on providing simple and practical answers and solutions instead of discussing each topic academically and theoretically in depth.
Keywords: belt conveyor, Pulley Lagging, Belt speed, Drive configuration, drive
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