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Engineered Belt Conveyor Sealing Systems

Early conveyor belts did not include specifically designed skirtboard seals. Instead, operators would sometimes attempt to use spare materials such as used belting or large “barge” ropes wedged between the skirtboard and the belt or held loosely in place by their own weight.

A view of the tail-end of a conveyor with an arrow pointing to a strip of belting that had been laid next to the chute wall to act as sealing.
The first skirtboard seals were fabricated in-house from readily-available materials such as used belting or large “barge” ropes. These primitive sealing systems were pushed down on to the belt edges or held in position by gravity.

While these early systems were inexpensive, they were not very successful. Materials often caught in the seals, causing increased abrasion along the edge of the belt, and operators would have no means of adjusting the system or correcting the problem.

In response, the obvious need for seals at crucial junctures led designers to include more sophisticated systems, many of which are now capable of containing fine-grained materials or even dust.

Most of these systems consist of a long strip of elastomer, held against the lower edge of the skirtboard by an arrangement of clamps. In general, skirtboard seals can be categorized by how they connect with the skirtboard itself: dropping straight down from the skirtboard, extending back inside from the skirtboard or sealing the belt on the outside of the skirtboard.

Multiple-layer seal designs feature rugged single-strip elastomers manufactured with a molded-in flap that serves as a secondary seal. This outrigger, or secondary strip, typically forms one or more channels that would capture the fines and gently carry them along the belt before depositing them back into the main body of material.

Belt sealing and support components work together to ensure an effective seal to prevent the escape of fugitive material.

For effective sealing, it is critical that there be adequate free-belt distance—the amount of belt outside the skirtboard on both sides of the conveyor and the space where a seal is generally installed. Too often, free-belt distance is reduced in the interest of putting the greatest load on the narrowest belt. This invariable comes at a cost of sealing system effectiveness.

Topics: Material Spillage

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