A conveyor belt system is a complex piece of mechanical machinery that is most commonly used to transfer materials from one place to another. Conveyor systems are often responsible for carrying flammable items, combine this with the fire risks that any mechanical equipment poses and you are left with some unique challenges when protecting a conveyor belt system from fire.
In its simplest form, a conveyor belt is made up of two or more pulleys and rollers with an endless loop of material – the belt – that revolves around them. At least one pulley in the system is powered, pulling the belt around the other pulleys.
There are considered to be be two primary classes of industrial conveyor belt systems; those that are used in factories or food processing plants for general material handling such as transporting boxes and other packaging, and those that are used in farming or mining for transporting extensive quantities of resources or agricultural material such as grain, salt, coal, ore, sand and waste or spoil from mining applications (overburden).
The latter of the two classes presents unique challenges when it comes to protecting a conveyer belt system from fire.
What are the Risks?
Conveyor belts used to transport coal and other mining materials present unique fire risks:
- Highly combustible materials – coal, for example, can self ignite and smoulder for a considerable amount of time before flames become visible. In addition, the dust produced from coal and other such materials is also highly combustible;
- Hot or burning material – any hot or burning material travelling along a conveyor belt at high speed presents an increased risk of fire;
- Friction – highly combustible dust can build up between the belt and rollers, or in the rollers of the conveyor belt themselves. Heat from everyday friction can easily ignite these combustible materials;
- Electrical or mechanical faults – as with any machinery, faulty electrical or mechanical equipment could also cause fire.
What are the Challenges?
The above all prove that there is increased risk of fire, but on top of this there are also a number of challenges that are presented when protecting any application that employs a conveyor belt system:
- Transportation – given the constant motion of a conveyor belt system, if fire breaks out amongst the materials in transit the flames could spread very quickly;
- Dusty or dirty environments – applications such as mines are particularly dirty, on top of this materials such as coal and overburden that are being transported also create a lot of dust. Some detection types lack the ability to differentiate between dust and smoke, therefore the risk of false alarm is greatly increased.
What is the Solution?
With the unique challenges and risks presented, a linear heat detection system such as FyreLine provides the ideal solution for protecting a conveyor belt system from fire.
The FyreLine Digital Linear Heat Detection System uses two tin-plated copper cables, each individually insulated with a temperature sensitive polymer. These cables are then twisted together before being wrapped in an outer sheath.
When the cable reaches a predetermined temperature the inner insulation melts allowing the copper wires to make contact with one another. This triggers a signal, notifying the fire alarm control panel of the danger.
FyreLine linear heat cable can be easily installed in any conveyor system and should be placed at each side of the rollers. This enables the detection system to identify and locate a fire at any point along the conveyor belt and raise an alarm allowing appropriate action to be taken. An additional cable should be installed approximately one and a half meters above the centre of the belt to detect fire when the system is stationary.
FyreLine temperature sensor cables are easy to install and can be provided with suitable fixing clips. After being subjected to fire the damaged section of the cable can be easily replaced, without having to replace the entire length of cable.
For more information about the FyreLine Digital Linear Heat Detection System, or to discuss any of the other products that Eurofyre have to offer, please feel free to get in touch either by phone on +44 (0) 1329 835 024, by email to [email protected] or via the online enquiry form situated on our contact page.