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Conveyor Belt Monitoring and Control in Mines

Converyor belt monitoring and control

Conveyor belt monitoring and control

Yet the importance of belts is often overlooked at mine sites, where other pieces of heavy machinery are more obviously involved in delivering production, and their safety concerns are more closely regulated. To aid both productivity and safety, the Carroll Technologies Group works closely with equipment manufacturers, such as the PBE Group, to provide robust and versatile belt monitoring devices.

Productivity and safety concerns

While the effectiveness of conveyor belts can be taken for granted, ineffective belts can severely undermine productivity at mine sites. The World Coal Association estimates that over 7,200 million tonnes of hard coal are produced worldwide, all of which will need transporting around mining operations, either for processing or transport off-site. In a interview with Mining Technology magazine, it was also reported that some companies consider malfunctioning belts to be responsible for up to 50% of unscheduled disruptions, impeding production at large-scale mining operations.

Belt malfunction also poses a significant safety threat, with the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) reporting that three of the 25 fatalities recorded at US mines in 2018 involved conveyor belts; two accidents involved a worker being crushed between a conveyor belt and another piece of machinery as they were moved, and the third involved a belt unexpectedly starting while the victim was conducting maintenance work on the belt.

Monitoring at the heart of safety

More effective monitoring systems could have helped ensure worker safety during all three accidents, primarily by informing workers of the relative position of belts and other machinery.

Carroll Technologies Group supplies the PBE Belt Boss series of belt monitors (pictured below), which can observe and respond to a number of potentially dangerous events, such as workers slipping and falling, sudden changes in belt speed and loss of power.

These monitoring devices can also be incorporated into a wider network of connected devices, providing comprehensive coverage of large machinery and conveyor belts, and is in line with Carroll’s commitment to providing tailored and holistic safety solutions.

Effective monitoring and alert systems are particularly effective in relation to the fatal accidents involving belts, as all three victims were engaged in other work, either maintenance operations or the moving or feeding of machinery, and so would have been unable to remain aware of their environment. Devices that can monitor the condition and position of machinery and remotely alert workers are particularly effective in busy and complex operations.

The system is also capable of monitoring and responding to a number of dangers that can threaten workers around conveyor belts. The constantly-moving parts of conveyor belts present unique safety challenges, as dust is repeatedly kicked up into the atmosphere, and fires can break out in confined spaces with a lot of moving parts; the Belt Boss system can monitor both the spread of fires, and the concentration of particulate matter in the air, and alert workers should either pose a significant safety risk.

Carroll’s highly personalised service is particularly welcome with regards to belt management, due to the differences in the scale and function of belts across mining operations.

The company’s MinerCare 24/7 service, which offers a helpline open 24 hours a day, and facilities in 13 repair centres in nine states across North America, enables mining companies and operators to tailor their products to their operations, and receive immediate assistant in the event of malfunctions. Carroll has an inventory of spare parts worth around $7m from over 70 manufacturers, and has been named PBE’s distributor of the year on multiple occasions.

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Leaky Feeder Wi-Fi Communication Systems in Mines

Leaky feder wi-fi communications systems in mines

Carroll Technologies combines a number of technologies in its leaker feeder cable systems for mining, offering a wireless communication network that can be integrated with tracking and monitoring devices to provide a complete solution to keep operations connected.

Discover more below about the supply and installation of leaky feeder systems Carroll Technologies can offer.

Leaky Feeder Communications in Mines: Latest Innovations

Here at Carroll Technologies we combine the latest innovations with best-in-class customer service to give you a complete safety solution. Based on more than 30 years of experience in the industry, we have searched the market for the best leaky feeder cablemanufacturers. 

Effective Leaky Feeder Radio Systems

Leaky feeder Wi-Fi cable and communication systems provide effective and secure communication for underground and above-ground operations, incorporating a cable that is stretched throughout the mine, and acts as an antenna for a number of devices to receive and transmit a signal.

As Carroll Engineering president Allen Haywood explained:

“If you have line of sight with that antenna, or are in reasonable distance, you can talk to that cable rather than talking to another radio.”

This effectively extends the range of communication devices, as the cable serves as a wireless connecting point between two devices that are trying to communicate; a worker ten miles underground could speak to a colleague ten miles above ground using the antenna between them to connect the signal.

This leaky feeder communication system replaces the older ‘pager-phone’ model of underground communication, where miners would have to go to telephones hard-wired to the surface to speak to their colleagues, either above or below ground.

Not only did this system limit locations of communications much more than the leaky feeder Wi-Fi system, new pagers would have to be individually installed as mines grew creating an inherently inefficient system, as all lines of communication would have to go through a single point above ground, regardless of the location of the workers attempting to communicate.

Industry-Leading Leaky Feeder Radio Manufacturer 

PBE leaky feeder radio systems stand out as some of the best communication solutions available to the industry. The PBE 112 mine phone, for instance, is a traditional pager-type system that can be integrated into leaky feeder systems to improve productivity and serve as emergency lines of communication in the wake of accidents.

Radios distributed by Carroll are also part of PBE’s fourth generation of leaky feeder technology which incorporates systems such as proximity alerts, gas monitoring and both text and voice communication.

Leaky Feeder Installation 

We are more than just leaky feeder suppliers. Carroll Technologies offers complete leaky feeder system design and leaky feeder cable installation services. 

Atmospheric Monitoring Tools

Leaky Feeder communication system can form the basis for a number of other tracking and monitoring systems, creating a complete service that can enable communication for a range of functions across an operation.

Haywood uses the example of a medically-trained worker who is needed to respond to an injury; they can be contacted through the leaky feeder system, and then directed to the accident by a colleague above ground who can see both their position, and that of the injured worker, on a screen as both are wearing tracking tags.

Similarly, the system can be integrated with atmospheric monitoring devices, enabling workers to locate hazardous gases, and quickly inform personnel to leave dangerous areas, all using the same system.

Carroll supplies and services more than 20,000 products from over 80 distributors, many of which can be integrated with the leaky feeder system, enabling this base communication network to be customized and adapted for individual operations, and tailored to the needs of specific miners.

Furthermore, data recording systems can be integrated with the leaker feeder system, enabling companies to analyze the events leading up to and during accidents, to ensure similar incidents do not happen in the future.

“One of the things they use that data for, that they want to look at and serve operations, is air flow,” said Allen Haywood. “And that’s recorded, in case they want to go back and look and see what that air flow is, they can go back and look at the history of that.”

The MSA 5x gas detector is a particularly powerful piece of air monitoring equipment, able to measure carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulphide and nitrous dioxide in a single device.

It comes with five sensors, each of which can be customized to detect specific gases, and alarm when particular concentrations of the gases are detected, making the device highly versatile.