Cost to Operate Inclined Chain Conveyors

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Incline conveyors cost more to operate than horizontal conveyors, right? After all, they need more power, and they incur a lot of downtime when a chain breaks. Plus, the extra supports they require increases the cost of installation significantly.

Actually, no. It’s not intuitive to many people, but the opposite is true—for our SMART Conveyors™, at least. For one, incline conveyors actually require less power than horizontal conveyors. This is because gravity assists the chains on the return down the incline. The greater the angle, the more gravity does the work rather than the motor. Thus, the minimum load on a conveyor’s motor occurs when the conveyor runs vertically. The maximum load occurs when the conveyor runs horizontally because gravity applies maximum force to the wear surfaces. In SMART Conveyors™, the load is further reduced because there is less friction between the chain and the wear strips.

As the chains rest less on the wear strips, however, more of the load is transferred to them. Thus, the chain load is greatest in vertical sections, while the load on the wear strips is greatest in the horizontal sections. As a result, chains wear faster on an incline than they do horizontally. The tradeoff is that the plastic wear components incur less wear, so the costs somewhat even out. The best situation occurs at 45°, as the variables balance out. Plus, a conveyor with an incline of 45° or less does not require an upper curve, which is needed in steep conveyors to discharge material fully.

Now, an upper curve will increase the operational costs of an incline conveyor as wear concentrates in this location. Still, in terms of downtime, our inclined SMART Conveyors™ do not require significantly more than when they run horizontally. Due to the conveyor’s design, the process of renewing curve wear materials takes only minutes. Ours is the only paddle conveyor on the market which allows maintenance personnel to change the curve wear strips from outside the conveyor without disassembling the chains. (Click here to watch a video of this process.)

The greater concern with inclined chain conveyors is what happens when the chain breaks. In conveyors where the chains run unsupported along the bottom pan, the chains will fall to the bottom of the conveyor when they break. When this occurs, they’ll crumple up and twist, becoming very difficult to remove. This is not a problem in SMART Conveyors™. In our design, the chains are fully supported in channels outside the material path. So, when a chain breaks, there’s no place for it to go. The chain will only drop as much as the space between links.

Extra supports are also not a concern for incline conveyors. A conveyor on an incline generally doesn’t require any more support than a horizontal conveyor because the vertical forces on the conveyor are the same for any given horizontal distance. In other words, a conveyor covering a horizontal span of 80’ will need the same number of supports no matter its angle, as the vertical forces on it will be greatest in the middle of the 80’ distance and smallest at the ends of the span.

We put much thought into how conveyors operate because we’re committed to providing our customers with the most efficient and reliable chain conveyors on the market.

Contact us today.


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