With costs under pressure, many mines choose the least expensive transfer point without considering that it will result in a higher total cost of ownership. "Although Weba Chute Systems appear to be simple and straightforward to manufacture, these custom designed transfer solutions require many hours to engineer." There is an incorrect perception that a Weba Chute System is expensive, but the total cost of ownership, not the initial purchase price, is what matters," says Mark Baller, managing director of Weba Chute Systems.
The major differentiators that allow Weba Chute Systems to produce transfer point systems engineered specifically for a given application are skill and expertise. "Anyone can do the basics of designing a transfer chute," Baller says, "but there is no single solution for materials transfer because the material is not constant, and properties change throughout the life of a mine."
The process of engineered chute design
Where possible, the process begins with a site survey that includes manual measurements as well as 3D laser scanning.
Weba's 3D scanning capability, according to Baller, is the ideal solution for predetermining new equipment design for accurate integration into existing infrastructure.
"Being able to obtain accurate measurements from a safe distance in a short period of time, this technology allows us to inspect and survey large infrastructure in detail and consider all elements in play when replacing equipment," Baller says. "We can generate 3D models from on-site conditions and conduct accurate reverse engineering using this data."
The scan can then be superimposed on the design intent to detect any interference, existing defects, redundant elements, structural deformation, and undocumented historical alterations to the site's infrastructure that may cause problems during the design and execution phases.
Weba Chute System employs a streamlined scientific approach to bulk material handling dynamics, taking into account all aspects such as belt speed, belt width, material size, shape, and throughput. Each solution is specifically designed to control the direction, flow, and velocity of a calculated volume and type of material in each application.
The design process is regarded as the most important stage of any project. Once the customer's data has been verified, sophisticated 3D computer software is used extensively to arrive at what is considered the best design for the application in question.
Discrete Element Modeling software is used to verify functionality during the design process.
“We use every available element to optimize the performance of the Weba Chute System, and DEM plays a significant role. Even though we design and engineer each chute by calculating material behaviour using the continuum method, material flow is simulated and compared to ensure functionality.” says Dewald Tintinger, technical manager of Weba Chute Systems.
“The use of DEM allows our technical team to model the interaction between individual particles and boundaries, allowing us to accurately predict the behaviour of bulk solids,” Tintinger says.
Engineers can use DEM software to predict bulk material flow patterns and rates, as well as velocity patterns and dead zones within a transfer system. It also provides precise data on particle distribution during segregation and blending, as well as impact forces on particles and boundary surfaces, displaying wear patterns.
Tintinger warns that, while many companies have access to this sophisticated software, failure to input relevant or correct data can result in inaccurate output information.
“When customisation is taken into account during the design phase, the customer benefits from lower maintenance requirements, improved transfer conditions, longer conveyor belt life, and higher throughput. Furthermore, the Weba Chute Systems are designed to minimize the impact that traditionally sends dust clouds into the air. This improves workplace health and safety compliance,” Tintinger continues.
Manufacturing takes place at our Wadeville premises, where plasma cutting equipment is used to ensure the highest levels of accuracy and tolerance.
Due to the attention to detail and the use of quality manufacturing procedures, all Weba Chute Systems are supplied with performance guarantees based on pre-set parameters specific to each application.
According to Mark Baller, the majority of Weba Chute Systems can provide a complete return on investment within 18 months. The real value for the customer, however, is in lower operating costs and no disruption to operations.
"In our experience, many mines pay a high price for the lowest capital outlay and settle for a standard, off-the-shelf chute," Baller says. "Any initial savings they make quickly vanish when there is a blockage or spillage that necessitates a stoppage."
There are often additional maintenance costs to consider, as well as the potential health risks associated with excessive noise and dust at the transfer point. A customized product, on the other hand, addresses the specific needs of each customer's application and ensures smooth operation for a longer period of time.
According to Baller, customers invest in Weba Chute Systems technology because of the inherent benefits it provides to the operation, particularly the bottom line in the long run. "It thus makes no sense for plants to jeopardize the performance advantages that the Weba Chute System provides by employing an inferior system," he concludes.