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Too Soon On The Scrapheap?

Published by , Editorial Assistant
Global Mining Review,

The wear and tear that takes place on the outer covers of rubber conveyor belts is commonly referred to using the umbrella term ‘abrasion’.

Too Soon On The Scrapheap?

However, there is more to the wearing process than simply abrasive wear. As a general rule, 80% of conveyor belt surface wear occurs on the top cover of the belt with approximately 20% of wear on the bottom cover. Wear on the top cover is primarily caused by two actions.

First and foremost is the abrasive action of the materials being conveyed, especially at the loading point or ‘station’ and at the discharge point where the material is effectively ‘accelerated’ across the belt surface. This kind of abrasion is particularly associated with ‘fine’ materials, such as sand or gravel, which literally act like a piece of coarse sandpaper constantly scouring the rubber cover.

Cutting and gouging

A second major contributor to wear and tear is the cutting and gouging of the rubber surface caused by materials that have sharp edges such as larger, coarser aggregates and rocks. Again, this largely occurs at the loading and discharge points. The heavier and sharper the material, the greater the damage it can cause, especially if loaded from height. It is important to bear in mind that the ability of a belt cover to withstand wear is not only due to its ‘abrasion resistance’, because much also depends on the cover rubber’s overall strength and its resistance to cut and tear propagation. If that resistance is low, then a small, seemingly insignificant area of damage in the cover can easily increase in size due to the continuous material loading and the relentless flexing around the drums and pulleys. In time, this damage will spread and link up with another area of damage. Consequently, small pieces of damaged rubber are effectively cut out from the surface rather than being simply worn thinner.

Wear on the bottom cover of the belt is mainly caused by the friction contact with the drum surface and idlers. The rate and uniformity of this type of wear can be adversely affected by other factors, such as misaligned or worn drums and idlers set at incorrect angles or an unclean environment. Belt cleaning systems, especially steel-edged scrapers, can also cause wear to the top cover surface.

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