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Monitoring tool boosts conveyor belt performance

The ContiPlus online service portal and its related app are supporting the movement of up to 2,500 tph of potash at the port of Vancouver.

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Potash operations at the port of Vancouver (photo: Continental/Shutterstock)
Potash operations at the port of Vancouver (photo: Continental/Shutterstock)

Vancouver is one of Canada’s largest transhipment hubs of potash. According to technology company Continental, its ContiPlus digital solution provides the port with important data on its conveyors that are equipped with Continental belts. By providing precise predictions about the condition of conveyor belts it is claimed to improve reliability in the transport quality of the material.


Canada is the world’s largest producer and exporter of potash, and exported around 19 Mt of the product in 2017, giving it a market share of almost 40%.


The smooth, efficient transport, loading and global shipping of these huge quantities of material rely on conveyor belts from Continental. In Vancouver, they deliver potash to further storage or directly to the vessels for shipping. The volumes – and therefore the load on the conveyor belts – are enormous.


The responsible terminals have two berths for potash operations. One has two quadrant shiploaders that can operate simultaneously, each with a rated capacity of 2,500 tph. The second has a single linear shiploader also capable of loading 2,500 tph.


The operators of the terminals use the ContiPlus software and the associated app to ensure its conveyor belts withstand this volume of material for as long as possible and can be maintained predictively.


Continental said that the conveyor belt systems and their processes can be continually optimised thanks to the precise condition monitoring allowed by the program. In this, the thickness of the conveyor belt top cover is measured at each service using a mobile ultrasound scanner and stored in a database.


This provides a continuous record of the belt’s condition. Based on the data, the program can predict when a belt should be changed because of wear.


That means the conveyor belt’s lifetime can be fully exploited while avoiding costly downtime at the same time. “An important economic benefit,” said Lyall Sharman, area sales manager for industrial products at Continental.


“Once the belt has almost reached the end of its lifetime, the customer, distributor or sales employee receives a notification on their mobile device to coordinate the belt change.”


Continental said that the major benefit of ContiPlus is that the system can capture, evaluate and document all the data relevant to a conveyor belt system.


“The software records every detail and brings structure to all the system-related information,” emphasised Sharman. In addition, information dating back a long time is also easily traced. “Transparency is significantly increased. Every new employee immediately has access to all the information on the belt system – i.e. including its history. That saves a great deal of time and money.”


Continental explained that it is continuing to further develop the ContiPlus system based on individual customer and market circumstances. For instance, a more straightforward overview is provided by a new interface with a folder structure. Further additions are being planned.


In cooperation with its respective British Columbia-based distribution partner, Continental’s experts have so far been able to capture and load more than 1600 data points from more than 150 systems at the customers. Continental therefore claims to be making a significant contribution to ensuring that the global demand for potash is met – safeguarding the agriculture sector and the production of sufficient food.


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