Melco’s range of uni-directional anti-runback conveyor rollers continues to gain market share, and is particularly popular in platinum, gold, coal and copper mining applications in various African countries, as well as in Australia and Canada, according to Melco managing director Gavin Hall.
Where standard steel and HDPE conveyor rollers are fitted with bearings that enable them to turn in both directions, the Melco anti-runback roller features a patented mechanism that only allows the roller to turn in a single direction.
Hall explains the product is appealing to engineers because of its inherent safety features, with incline conveyors experiencing less downtime in the event of a belt snap. Conveyor belts with inclines of between six and 18 degrees, which are commonly found in mining applications, are most prone to running back in the event of a belt snap. Some of these belts are as long as 1km, and could cause unprecedented damage if breakage occurs.
The majority of conveyor belts in mines are run through confined spaces, and the consequences of conveyor failure could be immense. Downtime related to clearing the tunnel and repairing the belt may result in significant lost production, with crippling financial effects.
However, the Melco anti-runback roller reacts instantly in the event of a belt snap. Numerous mining customers have revealed that the anti-runback rollers, if correctly installed to the pattern recommended by Melco, bring the snapped belt to a standstill within a short distance, substantially reducing safety risks, the risk of any damage and associated costs.
The Melco anti-runback roller looks identical to the company's range of standard steel and HDPE rollers, and is identifiable only by a unique plastic directional arrow disc on each side of the roller. Melco, with the assistance of the supplier of the patented mechanism, assists its customers in determining the exact ratio of standard to anti-runback rollers required for a specific application.
Due to their identical physical dimensions, standard steel and HDPE rollers with 25mm, 30mm and 40mm shaft diameters can be replaced with the equivalent anti-runback rollers with minimal effort.
Melco anti-runback rollers have been installed at numerous mines and plants in South Africa, Australia and Canada since first being introduced to the market in 2007. Demand for the range is steadily rising across the rapidly developing African mining sector.
Despite their numerous advantages, Hall admits Melco anti runback rollers are more capital intensive than their standard counterparts, adding to the overall costs associated with the installation or upgrade of a conveyor belt. However, engineers that have installed the Melco anti-runback roller agree that the extra cost is justified when weighed up against the safety and operational benefits provided by the product.
Hall stresses the fact that overall lifecycle costing should be taken into account when making a final purchasing decision. In applications involving long and steeply inclined conveyors that carry heavy loads and could be more prone to snapping, it is important to weigh the initial and more expensive one-off cost against a failure further down the line, which could result in possible injuries to personnel, lost production and additional repair costs.