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A Paragon in Energy-Efficient Conveying

Published in Australian Mining

Fenner Conveyors is helping the mining industry decarbonise operations with its green series of conveyor products.

The term ‘decarbonise’ gets a lot of traction in the mining industry these days. But excessive use can sometimes dilute the meaning of a word.

Serious mining industry customers are more likely to care about verifiable results than a catchy tagline, and Fenner Conveyors has the backing, expertise and products to deliver what customers are after. 

Fenner Conveyors draws on its rigorously designed Green Series of conveyor products, PowerSaver and Yeloroll-HD, to show customers exactly how much they’ll be saving on energy consumption and carbon emissions when it comes to overland conveyor systems for mines.

“PowerSaver is a rubber compound that is applied to the pulley (bottom) cover of the conveyor belt to effectively reduce energy loss due to the indentation of the pulley cover moving over the idler roll,” Fenner general manager, technology Tim Briggs told Australian Mining. “The reduction of energy loss is achieved by improving viscoelastic properties of the PowerSaver compound.

“Various factors go into developing the PowerSaver compound for us to be able to predict the power saving of a belt for our customers. We’re proud to have the in-house technical experts who are able to interpret this data accurately.

“To measure indentation rolling resistance, our team looks at idler roll diameter, belt loading, cover thickness and the viscoelastic properties of the bottom cover. On top of this, we must consider the operating conditions such as temperature, belt speed, and belt load.

“Indentation rolling resistance accounts for approximately 60 per cent of the power draw of typical overland conveyor systems, which is why reducing this is a key factor.

“The Australian mining industry needs more and more material conveyed by their systems. We can’t change the throughput, and we can’t change the distance, but we can change is the viscoelasticity of the rubber.”

 Green Series 2 600x600
Fenner Conveyors’ Green Series is helping mine sites save on energy and emissions.

The unique compound design of PowerSaver helps to reduce energy consumption, as it supports the system to operate across longer distances and with higher tonnage.

“When designing a new system and looking to reduce power consumption on your belt, you’re able to step down your tensions, your drive motors get smaller, your pulleys get smaller. The whole conveyor benefits,” Briggs said.

Whether fitting to a new or existing system, the PowerSaver compound helps conveyor belts carry load more efficiently, reducing energy consumption. This translates to lower operating costs, increased asset life, and reduced carbon emissions.

 “The first generation of PowerSaver shows a verifiable 28 per cent reduction in indentation loss when applied to M-grade conveyor belts,” Briggs said.

“Our second iteration, PowerSaver 2.0, improves this by an additional 12 per cent, or 40 per cent compared to M-grade.”

A third generation of the product is currently under development.

The second tool in Fenner Conveyors’ Green Series toolkit is the Yeloroll-HD. Engineered by Conveyor Products and Solutions – a company Fenner Conveyors acquired in 2022 – Yeloroll-HD rollers are 40 per cent lighter than equivalent steel idlers.

Key to the product’s efficiency is its composite shell, making it belt-friendly, corrosion- and impact-resistant, and lightweight.

 YellorollHD 2 600x400

“We’ve been specialising in high-performance composite conveyor rollers for over 20 years,” Conveyor Products and Solutions general manager of engineering operations Warren Sexton told Australian Mining.

“As conveyor loads go up, you require larger bearings and an increased diameter of your rollers to keep material moving efficiently.

“But both of those increase the mass of your rollers significantly. For large surface operations, these rollers are typically over 40kg each.

“We’re able to reduce that weight by 30 per cent, sometimes up to 50 per cent, by using these composite materials. You end up getting better performance with lower energy consumption.”

The Yeloroll-HD rollers are belt-friendly, removing the risk of ripping associated with typical steel idlers.

“Particularly in long conveyor operations, there’s a significant risk to the customer that if one of the units fails and puts a rip in the belt, you’re going to destroy millions of dollars of material,” Sexton said.

Owing to the light weight, Yeloroll-HD idlers can be transported with significantly less fuel burn than steel.

The rollers also operate quietly, minimising noise impacts on workers and the environment. This also helps mine sites with noise restrictions keep running at higher tonnage rates than permissible with typical steel idlers. 

Green Series1 600x400

Yeloroll-HD is best used in tandem with PowerSaver. The two products come together to create a paragon in overland conveyor systems.

Briggs said that the PowerSaver compound, while system-agnostic, is being developed to be optimised for Yeloroll-HD idlers.

“We can bring these products together to show our customers exactly how much they’ll be saving on power and carbon emissions,” Briggs said.

A lot of work is being done at Fenner Conveyors to design products that help customers reduce their environmental footprint and decarbonise manufacturing in the process.

“PowerSaver and Yeloroll-HD are only the start,” Briggs said. “We are so fortunate to have some of the best brains in the industry within the Fenner group in Australia and look forward to sharing more innovations in the pipeline with our customers.

“With sustainability, we aren’t about short-term wins. We’re about making an impact.”

This feature appeared in the October 2023 issue of Australian Mining.