The ‘Belt Vision System’ allows mechanical splices in belt systems to be monitored by cameras and a computer with the aim of preventing belt failure caused by a deteriorating splice.
The system was developed through an alliance between Consol Energy and the National Robotics Engineering Consortium of the Carnegie Mellon University. Bruce Bancroft, consulting analyst with Consol Energy who has been involved with the development, outlined the system at Longwall USA in Pittsburgh in June.
Bancroft said the nominal life of a mechanical splice was three months and that belt breaks at mechanical splices occur frequently enough to justify continuous monitoring. This was however, time consuming and imperfect.
“At the rate revenue is generated in a longwall mine the prevention of one belt break will pay for this system. Pulling broken belt back together generally takes a minimum of four hours and is a hazardous task. A damaged splice can be replaced in 30-45 minutes,” he said.
He said Version 1 of the system was first introduced in December 2001. Since then five Version 2 systems in service at three Consol Energy mines. Two are on mainline belt, two on lead miner belts, and one on a longwall belt.
The system has been shown to run successfully on all belt sizes up to and including 72 inch belt, assuming the 72 inch belt tracks well. More engineering would be required to image belts wider than 72 inch. The current field of view across the belt is 83 inches.
ILN understands that Consol has selected a commercialisation partner and that the unit could be on the market by the end of the year.