Multiple drive belt conveyors are being increasingly incorporated in mining plans worldwide because of their high economic performance and the ease of moving these installations around, especially in underground mines. A typical modern multi-drive conveyor system consists of one or more intermediate drive stations positioned along the upper stretch of the conveyor and a single drive station situated in the lower stretch. Despite the acknowledged cost saving potential of the multiple drive technology, no previous work was reported on the methodology to realize a cost-effective design of multi-drive belt conveyors. This study investigates a design approach for multiple drive belt conveyors with the objective to achieve the lowest life cycle cost of multi-drive belt conveyors for a specified material transport task. For this purpose, an optimization model for the cost-effective design of multi-drive conveyor systems is formulated on the basis of the recommendations of the DIN 22101 and SANS 1313 standards. For a given number of intermediate drive stations, the proposed model optimizes a set of design parameters so that the minimum equivalent annual cost of a conveyor can be attained whilst handling the transport requirements and design conditions. The conveyor parameters optimized in this study are the rated powers of motors, the rated torques of gear reducers, the diameters and wrap angles of drive pulleys, the belt width, the belt speed, the lengths of the belt sections not nestled between drive pulleys, the spacings between idler rolls and the shell diameters and shaft diameters of idler rolls. For benchmark analysis purposes, a similar optimization model is also developed for the single drive technology. Described as mixed integer nonlinear programming (MINLP) problems, the two optimization models are solved using the MIDACO solver embedded in the MATLAB environment. The results of this study show the validity and effectiveness of the design model proposed for multi-drive belt conveyors. The results also indicate that the multiple drive technology is more beneficial for the conveying over long distances. The impact of the possible instability of inflation throughout the project lifetime is also investigated through three hypothetical scenarios, which involve a fixed inflation rate, a higher fluctuating inflation rate and a lower fluctuating inflation rate, respectively. The results of this sensitivity analysis show that the most cost-effective multi-drive belt conveyors obtained under a fixed inflation rate is robust enough against limited fluctuations of this parameter.
Dissertation (MEng)--University of Pretoria, 2017.