The design of an automatic maintained pipe-conveyor.
Report 2006.TL.7084, Transport Engineering and Logistics.
The pipe conveyor is a conveyor system that encloses bulk material, thus
eliminating the risk of dust contamination. The idlers of these pipe-conveyors
are components in the conveyor that ought to be regularly maintained. Damaged
idlers can damage the belt, the most expensive component of the conveyor.
Nowadays expensive maintenance personnel are needed to inspect the idlers,
however this very costly and dangerous. Automation of maintenance is a
promising alternative for outsourcing maintenance.
The main objective is to design a fully automated maintained pipe-conveyor,
which can replace worn out/damaged idlers, without any help of external
The following subjects will be investigated:
After an investigation the following results were acquired:
- Selection of sensor instruments for inspection; the idlers of the pipe
conveyor must be inspected, therefore a selection must be made of the
available sensor equipment.
- Selection of a maintenance robot; the maintenance robot must be fully
automated, without interference of personnel.
- Design/selection of automatically replaceable worn-out idlers; the
design of the idlers should be a simple click-system, so the maintenance
robot can replace them easily.
- Needed tools for robot to (re)place the idlers.
Readers who are interested in a more detailed summary are referred to
the conclusions at the end of each chapter of the report or to the
- The laser vibrometer was selected as best inspection device to detect
damaged idlers. It gives accurate measurement results combined with
- The standard basic form of an idler is not usable for automatic replacement
purposes. A new design of the idler (idler roll, shaft, bracket etc.) is
required. The only plausible way for replacing the idlers by a robot arm is
when the idlers are one-sided mounted.
- The following idler components were designed/selected during standard
calculation procedure and using example data:
- ABS Roll Shell with the following dimensions: ø 127 mm,
L = 290 mm, t = 5 mm.
- Two bearings of the 63xx series.
- Trimmed steel shaft (ST360) with a minimum diameter of 30 mm and
length 410 mm.
- Two polymer bearing housings to fixate the bearings and seals
- Seals: Labyrinth seal, Weather seal, Nilos-ring and O-ring
- Axial fixations of bearings with Circlips DIN 471 and DIN 472
- (Un)locking system consisting a docking and centring device.
- An Industry robot was selected, by calculating the needed reach and
payload: KAWASAKI MX350 L.
- Two types of tools were designed to (un)lock and (re)place the damaged
idlers of the robot
- The concept of the triangular gantry was chosen as support structure.
The dimensioning of the parts of the gantry was verified with the use of
Reports on Transport Engineering and Logistics (in Dutch)
, TU Delft