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R&D - New belt conveyor concept | Grate
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R&D – New belt conveyor concept

After heavy growth year 2013, Grate has this year focused on R&D and expanding its business scope from steel structure deliveries to machinery. We have targeted especially conveyor and crane markets due our strong experience on material handling.

”When calculating projects for our customers, we soon got a feeling that this could be done better”, Kari Salo (CEO), explains. On current conveyor business there seems to be two solutions for heavy structure bridges. First is to order the conveyor as a truss-structure, which is then delivered at site on very small pieces and needs to be assembled near the site with high erection cost. Other option is to order the conveyor structure from a nearby workshop, from where the assembled modules can be transported to the site by truck. This will limit your choose of supplier heavily and neither of the current options are optimal solution for an international customer. And all this basically because there haven’t been a way to fit a fully equipped conveyor bridge structure to a container.

After one year of heavy R&D the concept for a new type of conveyor started to get clear for Grate’s engineering team. The core of our carrying structure is rather traditionally in the I-beams, but with few simple and yet totally original solutions, we have been able to match the weight of the truss-structure with our beam-concept. “On global steel markets, at the end everything depends on the price and therefore on the weight of the structure, since weight is the biggest factor on price”, Mr. Salo explains. With our concept, the customer can have a normal tendering process like for any other steel structure project.

Conveyor, 1 side platform, partly covered
Greatest advantage for our customer comes however from the combination of short manufacturing period, easy transportation and quick erection process. Our structure is highly standardized, so after receiving the basic layout requirement from the customer, the conveyor design process is highly efficient. Depending on the belt width (600-1200mm), we can fit even four, 11 meter long modules to a single container. We are also completing some of the most challenging phases of the erection process already at the workshop, like alignment of the roller frames, which will minimize the need of maintenance breaks after the production has started.
During the erection you only need to join the conveyor modules together and add the self-carrying cover sheets. When compared to an assembly of a traditional truss-structure conveyor, the erection process is speeded-up approximately 75%. This is significant reduce not only on working hours and erection cost, but also from the safety perspective. “Safety issues are getting more and more important for our customers, and on-site erection hours are always the biggest risk”, Petteri Viinanen (founding partner) highlights.

Grate is not yet publishing the details of the structure outside 1-on-1 negotiations, because the patent for the solution is still pending. Concept has however been seen as very promising both by our customers and by Tekes, which also provided significant funding for Grate to complete the design process. The negotiations for the first commercial deliveries are currently on-going.

In addition to the conveyor bridge structure, Grate is also working on other issues relating to conveyor maintenance and components. Target is to not only reduce the investment cost, but also the life-cycle costs of the conveyors and ease-up the maintenance monitoring. “Our goal is, that by 2015 we have the most advanced and cost-effective conveyor concept to offer for our customers”, Mr. Viinanen reveals.

Additional information:
Kari Salo, CEO , +358 50 395 5007, kari.salo@grate.fi
Petteri Viinanen, Partner, +358 40 585 5485, petteri.viinanen@grate.fi