Ulan chutes for the stars

A CHUTE installed at Glencore’s Ulan Surface Operations in New South Wales has dramatically reduced downtime of its coal handling facility since commissioning.
Ulan chutes for the stars Ulan chutes for the stars Ulan chutes for the stars Ulan chutes for the stars Ulan chutes for the stars

The new chute allows Ulan Surface Operations to operate with a full feed rate of 2000 tonnes per hour without any stoppages.

Chute Technology performed an audit to gain a holistic view of Ulan's operations.

The engineering audit determined that one known trouble spot, the bypass hopper and vibratory feeder, could be taken out of service and replaced with a simpler transfer chute with an in-built surge capacity.

The chute was designed in such a way that it could all be lifted and installed in one go, minimising installation downtime.

Chute Technology also designed and installed an adjustable surge control baffle device to control the height of material on the conveyor belt.

The device acts like a trimmer on the end of the chute, where it trims the height of material during times of surge loading, to avoid belt overloading, side spillage and keep material heights consistent.

Chute Technology managing director Dennis Pomfret said a customised chute was designed that eliminated potential downtime for the system.

"The new chute allows Ulan Surface Operations to operate with a full feed rate of 2000 tonnes per hour without any stoppages or blockages, so they can maximise their productivity and our profitability," he said.

Pomfret said that Ulan Surface Operations was looking to the future by investing in a solution designed to maximise productivity and eliminate unwanted downtime.

"Ulan Surface Operations is always looking to employ modern solutions that avoid problems in the first place, rather than cleaning up a mess after it occurs," he said.

"We anticipate the surge control device will reduce spillage considerably, especially when taking into account the typical delays in conveyor stopping and starting sequences.

"A major consideration for the project was to design the new chute around the existing structures as much as possible, so that there was as little rework or modifications needed before installation."

Pomfret said Chute Technologies also took into consideration that the drop height was almost 15m.

"Ulan Surface Operations wished to retain their surge bin, floor structure, vibrating feeder and conveyor structures, so we designed around these as much as was possible," he said.

"Additionally, the design was modular, so the installation took as little time as possible."

To overcome a variety of materials handling and chute challenges Chute Technology used optimised technology such as an asymmetric chute, a virtual skirtboard, and single point of contact flow path.

Most side loading chutes cause belt mis-tracking issues because the sideways travel of the material exerts sideways forces at the loading point of the belt.

Chute Technology optimised the internal flow geometry before the load point to cancel out the sideway forces and guarantee correct conveyor loading.

Conventional skirtboard designs are prone to spillage and can cause belt wear, but this has been eliminated at Ulan Surface Operations.

By optimising the internal flow geometry, the material is laid on the belt without contact with the conventional skirtboards. This creates a virtual skirtboard free of wear and spillage.

To further control wear rates, dust, and noise generation, Chute Technology designed the chute so that the material flow was constantly in contact with the chute from the head pulley to the receiving belt, eliminating damaging intermediate free-fall trajectories and impact zones common with conventional smooth flow chutes.

Potential transfer chute issues such as high wear, high surface temperatures, tile cracking, dust generation and noise generation have been avoided through unique design practices and fewer impact points.