Drives & Controls April 2024

37 April 2024 CONVEYORS AND MATERIALS HANDLING n mechanically adapted for each change in packaging. The same applies to the way the product is handled, allowing faster, safer manipulations than the mostly manual operations of conventional installations. For example, the di erent cutting directions sometimes needed for multi-variety portions can be achieved simply by rotating the mover. According to Yaman, replacing mechanics with software functions has practical advantages. “Wear is a crucial issue that crops up time and again in our discussions with customers,” he reports. “This is because conventional handling systems consist of a large number of mechanical components, such as conveyor belts, and are subject to a high level of wear. “What’s more, the level of cleaning e ort is signi cantly higher – but also indispensable due to the constant contact with the food. Then there’s the fact that there are always numerous transitions between the individual belts in systems like this, and each of them can change the position of a food portion which, in turn, can lead to complications during subsequent insertion into the packaging. “Generally speaking, a mechanical system is much more susceptible to a decline in positioning accuracy,”Yaman concludes. “But with XPlanar, all of these aspects are eliminated.” The fact that software handles some of the tasks previously solved mechanically, does not mean increased e ort to implement the software. Instead, using the XPlanar function built into Beckho ’s TwinCat 3 software, systems can be commissioned or new con gurations created easily via a con gurator built into the familiar engineering environment. “With the functions of the default library, the XPlanar system can be handled in the same way as conventional drive technology with a corresponding number of axes,” Yaman explains. “Control of the entire system via the central TwinCat controller also enables perfect synchronisation between the movers and the infeed and outfeed conveyors.” The use of Beckho ’s open PC-based control technology also o ers advantages. “Connection of our machines to higher-level control systems at our customers’ sites is becoming immensely important,” Gerd Stratenwerth points out. “However, since these vary greatly depending on the customer, we need open control technology if we want to be able to work with as many di erent platforms as possible. And for this, the PC-based solution is much better suited than our previous conventional control technology.” n A video showing how the technology operates can be seen at The levitating movers pick up food from an infeed belt (right) and transport it following exible paths to the next process Gearless conveyor upgrade will slash energy use One of Europe’s largest mines is upgrading its main conveyor drive from a gearbox-driven system to a gearless alternative. The new system is expected to be more reliable and to cut energy use by up to 10%. The Swedish mining company LKAB operates an iron ore mine at Malmberget in Lapland. It is one of the largest operations of its kind in Europe and every year, its conveyor system carries up to 15 million tonnes of ore, powered by a 2.8MW woundrotor induction motor (WRIM) with a gearbox. This system hauls 80% of the mine’s output. The mine is now planning to replace this installation with two 1.6MW gearless conveyor drives (GCDs) with permanent magnet motors (PMMs) to increase its production while reducing energy consumption per tonne. Once the upgrade is completed in 2025, it is predicted that LKAB will achieve energy savings of 6– 10% compared to current levels. For mineworkers, the upgrade will mean less noise and heat. By removing the need for gearboxes, the new GCDs are expected to cut maintenance costs while improving reliability and leading to more uptime. The PMMs will be coupled directly to the existing conveyor’s drive pulley. The project management team and installation engineers face the challenge of working in tight spaces around 1.25km below the earth’s surface where they will have to remove large pieces of existing equipment and replace them with the new system. ABB was awarded the contract for the upgrade project in the third quarter of 2023. Installation will take place during scheduled maintenance stops, with final commissioning expected in August 2025 “We are managing the largest iron ore mines in Europe where productivity must remain high while energy efficiency increases,” explains LKAB engineer and project owner, Pär Sundqvist. “This important upgrade will improve the throughput on the conveyor and help us to meet our energy targets. ABB’s technology will also reduce both OPEX per tonne and ongoing lifecycle costs.” “The new ABB equipment will allow for an improved working environment in the mine – making it cleaner and safer,” adds Ulf Richter, ABB’s conveyor products manager. “Gearless conveyor drives are known to be the most energy-efficient solution for conveyors, enabling reliable transportation of ore. The upgrade also means reduced noise and heat in the conveyor drive area.” The upgrade to LKAB’s conveyor system, which carries 15 million tonnes of iron ore every year, will boost availability and energy eŸciency. Image: LKAB