Smart rollers make for smart business

Frequently asked questions, answered

Want to know more about installing the Smart-Idler® system on your site? Find the answer and more here. If you still want to know more, please contact us now.

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How early does the Smart-Idler® detect roller failure?

The on-board analysis technology of Smart-Idler® has been proven to detect a roller bearing defect at stage two of a four stage failure progression. This provides months of warning before catastrophic failure so that conveyor roller maintenance can be arranged during a scheduled downtime period.

Smart-Idler® also detects roller bearing failure by sensing acoustics and temperature. This means that all modes of conveyor roller bearing failure can be detected and tracked as the condition worsens. The severity of the failure can be escalated in the reporting software for urgent attention. Smart-Idler® can accurately determine conveyor roller shell-wear and report for maintenance the rollers which should be changed out due to thinning shells

Does every roller require a Smart-Idler® sensor?

No. The Smart-Idler® system can still operate with great results when implemented in localised areas on the conveyor, such as high wear zones, hard-to-inspect areas and dangerous locations, such as tunnels or high gantry sections of conveyor.

Can I put a Smart-Idler® sensor in any conveyor roller brand?

Yes. The Smart-Idler® is designed to be integrated with a universal range of conveyor rollers during manufacture. In the case where an integration is particularly tricky, the Vayeron® team is always available to ensure that the product can be integrated, one way or another.

What is the operating life span of a Smart-Idler® sensor?

The Smart-Idler® conveyor roller sensor is designed to last 10+ years. This is well beyond the average life expectancy of a conveyor roller (~3-5 years). At best case (clean laboratory conditions), a quality conveyor roller bearing should achieve approximately 80,000 hours of operation.

Even with this design requirement, the American Bearing Manufacturers Association (ABMA) indicates that 10% of all bearings will fail early during their design life. This is an added reason that Smart-Idler® should be used as a safety-net sub-component of a conveyor roller.

What are the safety benefits of using the Smart-Idler® technology?

Globally, conveyor roller failure is the number one cause of fires in underground coal mines. This poses a hazard to personnel in these explosive environments. Currently, without an adequate solution, this risk is unfortunately tolerated.

The Smart-Idler® system helps with statutory compliance in underground coal mines and other conveyors at risk of combustion while greatly reducing hazards for personnel and equipment. In Australia, there is a statutory requirement to limit the surface temperature of any component in an underground coal mine to a maximum of 150 degrees Celsius. It is a fact that a conveyor roller bearing failure can reach temperatures beyond this.

Smart-Idler® technology alerts you to high roller temperatures and pre-empts failing rollers, making it a diligent solution to this no-longer-necessary risk. It also reduces the need for manual roller inspection, removing personnel from harm’s way.

How much can the Smart-Idler® system save my operation?

Conveyor-roller-related downtime is in the top three causes of unscheduled conveyor production stoppages. The amount of money the Smart-Idler® system can save your operation is dependent on a few variables specific to your site and commodity. Every operation knows the cost to the bottom line associated with unplanned downtime, LTI’s and production delays. By eliminating these associated costs, the total cost of ownership (TCO) of the roller can be reduced significantly and personnel can be assigned to more critical tasks.

Ultimately, every roller will fail, it’s a matter of when and how. Smart-Idler® provides a previously non-existent safety net allowing you to get the most life out of your roller, before it fails and causes damage. This can save millions per annum for some operations. In one calculated Pilbara Iron Ore scenario, the technology payback occurred in the first 15 minutes of saved downtime.

How easy is it to install a Smart-Idler® system?

Once an initial gateway has been installed (often as simple as mounting an electric enclosure and ensuring an adequate power supply), the rollers themselves are a drop-in replacement for conventional conveyor rollers. The laborious manual tagging or data entry process when recording a roller failure is replaced by an RFID scanner/android phone, which can assign frame location and idler number to the newly inserted smart roller. This allows physical location information to be matched to a smart roller that will send a condition alert back to base.

What is the most common Smart-Idler® system rollout strategy?

Every bulk handling conveyor operation has problem areas throughout the site. These are areas where roller failure is higher than the site average, or inspection is difficult/not safe. By targeting these areas first and installing batches of rollers in these locations, a faster realisation of the benefits of the Smart-Idler®™ technology and therefore a greater return on investment can be achieved.

After problem areas are addressed, more widespread coverage can be achieved by replacing conventional rollers with Smart-Idler®-enabled rollers as a part of the site’s regular maintenance roller change-out schedule. Over a period of time, it is possible to phase in comprehensive use of the technology across the entire site.

Apart from helping to eliminate roller-related downtime, are there other benefits?

Other benefits include:

  • No longer needing to conduct bulk/batch roller change-outs in large sections of the conveyor as a maintenance practice. This process is wasteful by nature and results in high roller consumption and greater labour expenses during maintenance shut-downs.
  • Generate targeted reports outlining conveyor rollers that require replacement for upcoming set scheduled maintenance shut-downs. This allows time to collate exact details of rollers required for stock ordering and delivery. This reduces the need for excessive spares to be held onsite, reducing inventory costs.
  • Although not currently implemented as a reporting parameter, the Vayeron® team is learning that additional condition information may be determined from the sensor data such as;
  • Chute loading profile – to determine if transfer chutes are loading centrally
  • Belt tracking
  • Belt tensioning issues which cause ‘skipping’ events on the rollers
  • Weight

What hardware or software is requirement for the reporting system?

Vayeron® is a ‘Hardware-Enabled, Data-as-a-Service’ company. The Vayeron® system reports to a default cloud-based platform, however, we have built an enormous amount of flexibility into the technology. We can send data to the site PLC for SCADA integration, or into other third-party software platforms. Ultimately, the customer pays for the ‘data access’, rather than the platform we provide.

Are there any other technologies on the market which automate the detection of conveyor roller failure?

None that detect roller failure as holistically as Vayeron®’s Smart-Idler® technology.

Fragile fibre optic cable is an alternative technology which is still in a research and development stage, with testing still being conducted to demonstrate system reliability. It focuses on applying acoustic monitoring only. A major downside of using fibre optic cable routed along the conveyor length is that any damage to the cable will likely require replacement of the entire cable length. To ensure adequate monitoring coverage, the optic fibre requires a ‘spider-web’ like installation around the conveyor and the components which are to be monitored. It is a cumbersome solution to ‘drape’ over the conveyor.

Smart-Idler® is the only system in the world that monitors temperature, acoustics, vibration and roller shell-wear, to accurately predict roller failure in advance. It is also the only technology in the world which will hone in on the exact roller which is failing.

There is no substitute for monitoring the problem at the source and utilising the array of detection methods that Smart-Idler® employs.