The optimisation of transfer chutes in the bulk materials industry
Van Aarde, Michiel Nicolaas
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Bulk materials handling is a rapidly growing global industry. Immense challenges exist to improve the efficiency and cost effectiveness of transporting and handling bulk materials continuously. The nature and scale of bulk materials handling varies from country to country. This study specifically focuses on the handling of bulk materials in the mining sector. Within this industry, transfer chutes are a key component used for transferring bulk material from one conveyor to another. Among other uses it can also be used under hoppers or silos to transfer material to conveyors, trains, trucks or ships. In a continuous effort to improve the efficiency of processes the industry is bombarded with transfer chute problems that include: • blocked chutes • high wear of liner materials • spillage due to skew loading • conveyor belt wear at loading points. Thorough investigation of existing transfer points, before modifying or replacing them with another configuration, gives better insight into the problems. This aids the designer to come up with the optimum solution for a specific transfer point. In this dissertation a study is done on the configuration of dynamic chutes or hood and spoon chutes. After completing a detailed investigation of existing problems, the study focuses on rectifying material transfer problems and designing for ease of maintenance. Adding to the improved flow in the new design, for the specific case study discussed in this dissertation, other design details are discussed which further validates the new design. This design improves the wear life of the liners inside the chute and minimises down time by reducing maintenance shutdowns. There are literally endless possibilities when it comes to chute configurations due to the uniqueness of each plant, material type and layout constraints. It is therefore beneficial to know what issues to address in the process of chute design or optimisation. This study focuses on a specific case study with unique problems and solutions. It should however give further insight and a basic understanding of what a chute designer must consider, and the methods taken, to optimise an existing material transfer point. The purpose of this document is therefore not to provide the reader with a recipe for chute optimisation but rather with the knowledge to comprehend the problems and solutions by discussing a specific industry case study.
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