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Belt Conveyor Pulley Design - Why the Failures

01/07/2014

BELT CONVEYOR PULLEY DESIGN - WHY THE FAILURES?

TERRY KING Pr. Eng.


B.Sc Mech Eng (Hons) M.S.A .I.M.E.
A .S.S.A .I.M.M.
Design Engineer to the Bosworth
Group of Companies

1. SUMMA RY
A system for the design and dim ensioning of conveyor belt pulleys, in a m anner which perm its use at drawing office or com putational level, is laid
out.
The theoretical m odel is used to ex plain the reason for som e com m on failures and to place in contex t som e of the pulley construction features seen
in recent years.
Lastly, an account is given of the factors which lim it the life of a pulley and a design is proposed for the nex t generation of long-life, low cost pulleys
for the South African m ark et.
2. INTRODUCTION
2.1 Historical Context
Great strides have been m ade in recent years in the provision of low m ass belts with ever higher tension ratings. In m any cases these low m ass belts
perm it the use of sm all diam eter pulleys, whilst the tension ratings dem and sim ilar or increased shaft diam eters.
O ften the conveyor designer need not restrict him self to the lim its of the belt. However, in situations such as in-seam underground conveyors, where
the transfer points, tension section and drive are all of restricted height, the optim um size is required.
Sim ilarly, in the pulley construction field, wide acceptance has been earned for the k eyless shaft connections originally introduced by Ringfeder.
These have resulted in a new generation of pulley constructions being adopted, designed largely by the user com pany or m ine. It has also led to a
confusion of different pulley styles, back ed by conflicting claim s as to their value.
2.2 Design Standards
The situation of designs being produced at m any places in South Africa and used to and in som e cases beyond their lim its has lead to the
requirem ent of a practical design standard against which the lim itations of a given pulley construction can be determ ined. Such inform ation is
available piecem eal but is not in a readily usable form .
It is the purpose of this paper to supply such a design system , the system being justified both analytically and by com parison with failures recorded
in recent years. It is a specific aim of this paper to avoid analytical techniques unsuited for use at drawing office level. W here this has required
sim plifications it is noted in the tex t.
Clearly, not every aspect of design is stress-based. W here this is the case. notes on successes and failures are given for your guidance. Lastly, an
attem pt has been m ade to place in contex t som e of the construction features that have been appearing and disappearing in recent years. This is
aim ed at im proving consistency and providing a basis for standardisation and new design think ing.
3. A NA LYTICA L SYSTEM
3.1 Background
A num ber of authors (1, 2, 3, 12, 13) work ing in Germ any between 1963 and 1973 have contributed m uch to the study of pulley stresses.
Unfortunately, the dissertations resulting have only recently been translated and are at a level not conveniently used in the design office. They
describe system s which differ from local practice in a num ber of im portant respects.
3.1.1 Shaft and drum end m aterials are of significantly higher tensile strengths.
3.1.2 Pulley proportions are different, drum diam eters being in the range 1000 to 1750 m m , drum widths are sim ilar to local practice.
3.1.3 Manufacturing m ethods are aim ed at low m ass. Locally, m ass has rem ained secondary to m anufacturing econom y due to a lack of
standardisation and the undem anding conditions our pulleys have work ed in.
The work s referred to have therefore been adapted to form m uch of the basis for the m ethod which follows. The m ain value of this m ethod being
that each part of the pulley can be treated individually with m inim al repetition required.
3.2 Common Constructions
Figures 1 (a to d) show som e com m on pulley constructions used locally, all of which can be analysed by the system described. Variations such as
asym m etrical end plates are adm issible and have been shown (3) not to affect the stress pattern significantly. The shading of pulley sections
indicates the stress levels encountered, dark areas being highly stressed, and will be referred to in the tex t.

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Belt Conveyor Pulley Design - Why the Failures

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Fig.1a - W eld-in-hub Construction

Fig.1b - Plate End Construction

Fig.1c - Refined Plate End Construction

Fig.1d - Forged Hub Construction


3.3 System of A nalysis
3.3.1 Shaft Sizing
The shaft m ust be sized both for the stresses at its point of entry to the hub and for its deflection.
Find Drive Torque T, if any, and shaft bending m om ent M in the usual way m ak ing allowance for duty factors.
From these find the following:
Com bined Torsion Mom ent Te = T + M

(Equation 1)

Com bined Bending Mom ent Me = (M + Te)

(Equation 2)

Using these m om ents in the Torsion and Bending Equations gives the first two possible diam eters (4).
Torsion Based Diam eter:

__________
dr = 3

Te x 16000
(Equation 3.)
s x PI

Bending Based Diam eter:

__________
db = 3

Me x 32000
(Equation 4.)
s x PI

Note
s and s are tak en to be equal since the allowable direct principle stress s is a fatigue case and the shear stress s is not.
Values for the principle stresses can be found from BS 153 Parts IIIb and IV : 1972 or any sim ilar authority. O therwise values in the range 41,5 to 45
Mpa(5) have been found satisfactory for BS 970 : 1972 070M20 (EN3A) steel, the m ost com m on shaft m aterial.
A third possible diam eter should always be determ ined from the "free" shaft deflection as below:

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Belt Conveyor Pulley Design - Why the Failures

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Deflection Based Diam eter:

_________

dd = 4

W .a.L.1600
(Equation 5.)
E.PI.

W here: W = Nett Tension without duty factor

KN

a = Bearing centre to hub distance

mm

L = Hub spacing

mm

E = Youngs m odulus for shaft

N/m m

= Allowable deflection

radians

Convenient deflection lim its are in the region of 0,001 radians for shaft connection hubs and 0,01 radians (8) for shrink fit hubs.
The largest of the three possible diam eters should now be chosen or a reasonable com prom ise reached. If it is a drive pulley the shaft connection
can be selected using the drive torque. For non-drive pulleys any appropriate connection can be chosen using a suitable guide (11).
3.3.2 Hub Diameter
In this system the hub is first sized by m ax im ising the circum ferential stress at the inner edge, using Lam s equations (10) suitably transposed as
follows:

______
do = di

fc + q
mm

(Equation 6.)

fc - q

W here:
d i = hub inside (connection outside) diam eter

mm

f c = m ax hub stress allowable (eg 80% of yield) N/m m


q = connection to hub pressure from catalogue N/m m
This establishes the m inim um hub size d o. It is now necessary to check the circum ferential stress at the outside of the hub to ensure that ex cessive
stress is not applied to the nex t com ponent, whether it is a weld or a diaphragm . For this, apply the equation:
1
Ex ternal circum ferential hub stress = f
c
1
= 2 qd i/(do - di) N/m m

(Equation 7.)

c
Now one of several situations will occur.
The hub will already be too large to fit the pulley. In this case use one of the special low pressure connections (see (11)) and start 3.3.2
again or use a larger pulley.
The hub will fit in the pulley but the outer edge of the hub approaches the drum attachm ent weld. This is a good reason for adapting a
construction such as Fig lb. Note that the allowable ex ternal tangential stress m ust be reduced to allow for weld im perfections. A low pressure
connection can be advisable to assist in this. Note also that for this construction, the hub stresses are additional to the diaphragm stresses
dealt with below.
The hub is an acceptable proportion of the pulley diam eter and a construction such as 1a, 1c or 1d is appropriate.
3.3.3 Construction Choice
Choice between 1a, 1c and 1d depends largely upon shaft attachm ent m ethod. Schem es 1a and 1d have ex tended hubs in order to distribute the
very high radial attachm ent forces from shrink fits along the shaft without local m aterial collapse. These are unnecessary when using shaft
connections, purely serving to add cost. In this case 1c is indicated or 1b for econom y. If shrink fits are retained, as they should be for m ax im um
econom y, then a construction such as 1a is indicated and for heavier pulleys 1d, the m ajor value of 1d is to elim inate the diaphragm to hub weld
from a very highly stressed area.
3.3.4 Shrink Fit Hubs
It will be noted that no attem pt has been m ade to size shrink fit hubs, this topic could be a paper in itself. Shrink fits are ex trem ely sensitive to

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m anufacturing tolerances and cannot practicably be dealt with without the collaboration of the m anufacturer. It is suggested therefore that the
identical process described in 3.3.2 be used to size these hubs or that a particular m anufacturers data be adopted.
3.3.5 Hub Width
Chosen, in the case of shaft connectors as the m inim um hub width that will secure the elem ent. This is sufficient.
If the pulley is of a construction having no separate hub such as Figure 1b then ignore this section and proceed to 3.3.6.
3.3.6 Diaphragm Stress Components
The diaphragm of a pulley is subject to a num ber of loads. These can be sum m arised as follows:
Radial Bending Mom ents due to shaft deflection.
Radial direct stress due to pulley load.
Tangential shear stress due to drive torque.
In addition there m ay be a radial direct stress due to shaft connection loads.
The first sim plification is to ignore the Tangential shear com ponent. These have been found to be negligible for the m aterial thick nesses involved,
as in Figure 2a.
Secondly, the approach suggested by som e authors for radial direct stress (12,3) was adopted after check ing against ex perim ental results (3). It
equates to a sim ple projected area approach, thus;
W
Radial Direct Stress f d =

N/m m

(Equation 8.)

2d ot

W here: t = diaphragm thick ness


This stress is equal com pressive and tensile on opposite sides of the pulley (3).
Radial Bend Stress is derived as follows:
Firstly relative stiffness' of shaft and drum are established.
PI x d 4
Shaft Stiffness Constant K6 =

mm

(Equation 9.)

32(L-200)
W here: d = shaft diam eter.
Diaphragm Stiffness Constant = K5
2,73
K5 =

1 - R
(

PI

+ log (R) ) m m

(Equation 10.)

1 + R
di

W here: R = ratio of diaphragm diam eters =


do
Then, a suitable thick ness is chosen by setting radial direct stress to one third of the allowable fatigue stress and finding an estim ated t value from
Equation 8. Nex t the actual diaphragm stiffness is calculated, for this t value as below:
t
Diaphragm Stiffness K7 =

(Equation 11.)
K5

If the drum is assum ed infinitely stiff com pared with shaft and diaphragm (reasonable since stiffness is the fourth power of diam eter, as supported
by ex perim ental results (1)). Then the Bending Mom ent is distributed in pulley end and shaft in proportion to stiffness, as follows:
K7 . M
Diaphragm Bending Mom ent Md =

Nm

(Equation 12.)

K7+K6
Now the pulley end can be treated as a flat plate having rigidly supported edges (3,2,13) with good accuracy.
3

(1 - R)

Flat plate constant K8 =

(Equation 13.)
PI.R (1 + R)

and finally

Diaphragm radial bend stress f b =

M d.K8.2000
(Equation 14.)
d ot

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Max im um fluctuating stress occurs on the pulley end at the diaphragm /hub joint, here the peak stress is as follows:
Peak Stress f max = f r + f b + f c
W here: f r = shaft connector pressure, if appropriate.
Minim um Stress f min = f r - f b - f d (+ve or -ve)
From these stresses and the fatigue tables the thick ness used can be assessed and equations 8. and 11. to 14. revised if needed.
The thick ness of the diaphragm m ay be increased at will, since the effect of diaphragm thick ness on stress level is shown in figure 2a work ed in the
m anner above for a pulley of typical proportions. The so-called "flex ible" end pulley does not ex ist ex cept in drum s of the proportion of m inewinders, e.g. Figure 2b where a significant low stress at low thick ness region is visible.
The refined profile shown in Figure 1c is derived by using the calculation system above to find a m inim um thick ness at the hub and then reducing
this in the ratio of the diam eters outward toward the drum . Together with large blend radii at the hub diam eter, this achieves the m ost even stress
distribution feasible.
3.3.7 Pulley Drums
Several authorities (1,3,10) have devised system s for assessing the stress level in the drum surface. However, the data provided when ex tended for
local pulley proportions, results in drum thick nesses that are im practically thin from the wear point of view. For ex am ple, 4m m plate for an 1100 m m
wide pulley with 304 KN resultant tension. Both test results and observations of pulleys after service confirm that the theory is correct.
It is recom m ended that drum thick ness is therefore considered carefully together with lagging and inner diaphragm s in the light of the points m ade
in 4.3

4. FA ILURES A ND SUCCESSES
During 1982/83 all pulleys returned to Bosworth Steel Structures for refurbishing and replacem ent were ex am ined for m ode of failure. Som e typical
ex am ples are given below in the light of the foregoing analytical system , with com m ents on construction trends in the industry.
4.1 Shaft and Shaft Connection Related Failures
4.1.1 Shafts
Many authorities are tending to frown on use of reduced journal diam eters to the shaft end. The practice of "journaling" arose from the significant
bearing housing cost savings which can be achieved on large shafts. These savings are still available at no cost in bearing life. The argum ent against
journaling is one of practice not principle, the following faults still arising frequently:
Journals placed too close to the hub, so that the reduced diam eter and increased stress as described by Peterson (7), apply in Equations 3.
and 4.
Radius and surface finish required are not specified by the designer.
Manufacturing leaves significant stress raisers on the stepdown radius.
Step downs are used on shafts whose bearing costs are negligible.
Figures 3 a and b dem onstrate good and bad practice in this field. We suggest that journaling m ay be not only an econom ical practice but
also a possible m eans of standardising pulley m ountings across a conveyor schem e without ex cessive capital cost and are therefore a useful
practice.
4.1.2 Shaft Connections
Pulley shaft connections are often hailed as the answer to a m aidens prayer.

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FIG 3a A W ELL RADIUSED SHAFT AND HUB

FIG 3b A FAILED SHAFT W ITH SMALL RADIUS AT THE STEP-DO W N


This is justified provided the following points are born in m ind:
Shaft connections depend totally on friction for their effect. They dem and the sam e respect as bearings in their application. Machining
tolerance, surface finish and contam ination are all potential causes of failure.
Shaft rem oval after service is often possible (11) but the shaft and elem ent are lik ely to require renewing, since corrosion severely affects the
operation of the elem ent.
Shaft sizes m ust often be increased up to 12% due to the deflection lim itation. Specification of high strength steel, does not im prove this.
(See equation 5).
Sm all size connections, up to 120 dia. have high shaft to connector pressure as appropriate to the European shaft m aterials. Com pared to
EN3A these pressures of up to 250 Mpa(I6) before pulley loading are ex cessive and increase the risk of dam age as in Figure 4 when fitting
the shaft.
Connections are far too loosely specified without regard to their properties.
If all this is tak en into account failures such as that in Figure 5 can be avoided. It is suggested that the shrink-fit not be abandoned too readily,
particularly for light pulleys, as this is still the m ost econom ical connection m ethod and considerable ex perience has been built-up in its use. As one
authority (17) says "For highly stressed shaft-hub connections the shrink-fit is unsurpassable ..... regarding fatigue strength under alternating
torsional stress".
FIG 4 SHAFT DAMAGE DUE TO SHAFT CO NNECTIO N

FIG 5 SHAFT CO NNECTIO N DAMAGE DUE TO PO O R APPLICATIO N

4.2 Drum End Influences


The theory advanced by som e com m entators (14) that a thin "flex ible" diaphragm is appropriate, results from tak ing the radial bending stress out of
contex t. Figure 2a dem onstrates that a region where stress increases with thick ness does ex ist, but is insignificantly sm all ex cept in very large
diam eter pulleys with ex traordinary bearing centers (Figure 2b). This is born-out in practice by Figures 6 and 7a which show two typical cases of very
light diaphragm pulleys, failure having occurred at the inside and outside diaphragm welds respectively, due to radial fatigue stresses. Failure in
Figure 7a m ay have been hastened by shrink age stresses in the weld. Shrink age stress is k nown to be a hazard particularly in sm all diam eter
pulleys. Stress relieving is recom m ended to off-set this problem in critical applications.
The opposite end of the scale is shown by Figure 7b, one of a range of pulleys with interm ediate diaphragm thick nesses. We are not aware of a
single reported failure of such a pulley.

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FIG 6 FAILED HUB/DIAPHRAGM W ELD IN THIN DIAPHRAGM PULLEY

FIG 7a FAILED DIAPHRAGM/SHELL W ELD IN THIN DIAPHRAGM PULLEY


(Arrow shows line of weld fracture)

FIG 7b A MEDIUM-HEAVY DIAPHRAGM DURING PULLEY ASSEMBLY


4.3 Drum Surface Phenomenon
W hen talk ing of drum surface wear, "failure" is a contradiction in term s. The tim e at which a drum surface becom es unusable due to wear legitim ately
determ ines the useful life of the pulley. If we assum e that the rem aining structure of a pulley can be m ade sound, then it becom es very im portant to
understand the way the drum behaves in order to im prove pulley perform ance. Sadly our understanding is very incom plete.
A few general points can however be m ade as outlined below:
4.3.1 The very low level of stress m entioned in 3.3.7 is a real phenom enon. This has been dem onstrated ex perim entally (1, 3, 18) and is
dem onstrated practically in Figure 9. To the best of our k nowledge, this pulley was replaced due to bearing failure, both ends.
The theory also tells us that the drum fatigue stress undergoes three cycles per revolution, not one. This is shown in Figure 8 reproduced from (3).
4.3.2 Inner diaphragm s have a m ark ed effect on pulley wear, Figures 9 and 10 and 11a are pulleys with none, one and two inner diaphragm s
respectively, In each instance the "saddleback " between diaphragm s can be clearly seen. In our attem pt to determ ine why a stiffener should affect
the rate of wear we dissected som e used drum s. Figure 11a and 12a show two of these drum s, between seven and ten years old. O n m easuring the
dim ensional changes of the drum we produced the results shown in Figures 11b and 12b.
W e concluded as follows:

Fig 8 : Ax ial stresses in the pulley shell

FIG 9 A W ELL W O RN DRUM SHO W ING HO W LITTLE MATERIAL IS NEEDED IN A FUNCTIO NING PULLEY

FIG 10 W EAR PATTERN IN A SINGLE INNER DIAPHRAGM PULLEY

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FIG 11a W EAR PATTERN O N A PULLEY SHELL (two inner diaphragm s)

FIG 12a W EAR PATTERN O N A PULLEY SHELL (one inner diaphragm )


FIG 11b PLO T O F DIAMETERS O F USED PULLEYS SHO W ING SHELL W EAR AND DISTO RTIO N

FIG 12b PLO T O F DIAMETERS O F USED PULLEYS SHO W ING SHELL W EAR AND DISTO RTIO N

W ear rate is asym m etrical due to uneven belt tension.


The visible distortion is due in approx im ately equal parts to wear (m etal loss) and to plastic deform ation of the surface.
The latter item ex plains the effect inner diaphragm s have. The distortion is due to fatigue at low stress
4.3.3 We can now arrive at som e guidelines. Firstly, poor belt track ing is a prim ary cause of rapid drum wear. Secondly, inner diaphragm s do help to
distribute drum wear evenly. Thirdly, since the purpose of inner diaphragm s is one of support (stiffness) and not one of strength, thick ness is
unlik ely to be im portant. A few thin diaphragm s are thus better than one thick one. Fourthly, the success of your chosen drum thick ness is dependant
on wear rate, for your carried m aterial. Not on any stressing technique now available.
It is strongly recom m ended that all drum s are lagged in order to prevent m etal wear. If this is done ex trem ely thin shells with inner diaphragm s to
preserve their shape can be utilised safely. Rem aining plastic deform ation is not of any consequence on its own. This saving in the shell has a large
effect on pulley cost and m om ent of inertia.
Lastly two cautions are appropriate:
Heavy diaphragm welds, un-stress relieved, have been a cause of drum failure and should be avoided.
If you still wish to abandon inner diaphragm s contem plate the results of the loose piece in Figure 10 or 13 entering your belt system . An inner
diaphragm would prevent this sort of occurrence.

FIG 13 A FAILED SHELL CREATING RISK-O F SEVERE BELT DAMAGE


5. CONCLUSION
If we in South Africa are to m ove ahead of the European pulley producers a num ber of item s are required:
Shaft connection m ethods better suited to the m ild steels we correctly favour using.
An im proved understanding of the com ponent which determ ines the life of a pulley. The Drum .
Manufacturing techniques which are econom ical under our conditions.

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A m ore widespread appreciation of the cost of wear in our operations.


Bearings of acceptable life-span.
Figures 14 shows a possible nex t-generation pulley which dem onstrates m ost of these features.
Shaft connection is by k ey-less close control fit, allowing a 15% sm aller shaft without risk of fretting corrosion in the assem bly. Shaft m aterial
is still m ild steel and the whole is well suited to sm all diam eter large shaft pulleys since it is com pact.
Drum end is turned from plate with m inim um wastage and giving ex cellent stress distribution.
Pulley weld is m ade in a position of low stress, where autom atic techniques and non-destructive testing can be applied reliably.
Inner diaphragm s are used to control plastic deform ation caused by low stress high cycle fatigue.

Fig.14 NEW GENERATIO N BELT CO NVEYO R PULLEY


-CO MPARED W ITH CURRENT EQ UIVALENT
H7 - to 1 thou/inch
All pulleys would be covered in a low cost high wear resistant two-color lagging. Ex cessive wear is indicated by change of color in tim e for relagging.
Such a pulley is between twenty and thirty percent cheaper than the current equivalent and would last indefinitely or until the bearings saw
through the shaft.
In closing m ay we in the pulley industry m ak e a plea in the interest of sim plified m anufacture. In one nine m onth period recently, one pulley
com pany m anufactured 47 different pulley diam eters, 41 different face widths and 25 different shaft diam eters. More than 10 different constructions
were em ployed, m ak ing a total of m ore than 480,000 different potential pulley designs, not counting shaft variations.
W hen drawing up your nex t com pany standard m ay we ask that you talk to a m anufacturer, or better still, use ISO 1536 (19) as a guide so that we
can help you by m ak ing m ore econom ical pulleys in a rational range of sizes.
A CKNOWLEDGEMENT
The author wishes to thank all the m em bers of staff of Bosworth Steel Structures (Pty) Lim ited and in particular Mr. Gerald Bosworth, also m em bers of
the Engineering faculty of the University of the W itwatersrand for their invaluable assistance in the preparation of this paper.
REFERENCES

1. SCHMO LTZI W . Designing drum s with transverse shafts for belt conveyors. Thesis for Doctorate in Engineering, Hannover, 1974.
2. LHR G. Calculation work on plate ends for welded tension and drive pulleys. Fordern and Heben 14 (1964), No. 2 p. 102-104.
3. LANGE H.- Investigation in stressing of conveyor belt drum s. Thesis for Doctorate in Engineering, Hannover 1963.
4. INCO EURO PE LIMITED. Design Data for shafts, 2nd Ed, W ightm an Mountain Lim ited, London, 1950.
5. CEMENT SERVICES (PTY) LIMITED. Conveyor pulley shafts special requirem ents in connection with work ing stresses. PD.411. Nov. 1972.
6. ASA B17c. Code for the design of transm ission shafting.
7. PETERSO N R.E. Stress concentration factors. W iley Inter-Science, 1974.
8. CO NVEYO R EQ UIPMENT MANUFACTURES ASSO CIATIO N. Belt conveyors for bulk m aterial, 2nd Ed., CBI, Boston, 1979.
9. RO ARK R.J. AND YO UNG W .C. Form ulas for stress and strain, 5th Ed., McGraw-Hill, 1975. p504
10. TIMO SHENKO S.P. AND W O INO SKY-KRIEGER S. Theory of plates and shells, 2nd Ed., McGraw-Hill, 1955.
11. KING T.J. Users guide to shaft connections. Bosworth Steel Structures, Johannesburg, 1982.
12. BAHR J. Neue Problem e der Bandtechnik , Frieberger Forschungs - Hefte A207, Academ i - Verlag Berlin, 1962, p. 55 - 72.
13. HASSELGRUBER H. Zur Berechnung der durch ein Biegem om ent belasteten k reisringplatte, Konstruction 6 (1954), No. 5 p. 194 - 197.
14. LLO YD B.E. Design of conveyor pulleys, paper presented at Beltcon 1 Conference, Johannesburg, 1982.
15. BIKO N 4000 MANUAL. No. 2003, W iesengrund, 1979.
16. RINGFEDER. Rfu 7012 MANUAL. No. S79E, Krefeld, 1980. p 4.
17. CHILDS T.H.C. The contact and friction between flat belts and pulleys. Int J of Mech.Sci, Vol 22, 1980 pp 117 - 126.
18. ISO 1536-1975(E). Continuous Mechanical handling. Equipm ent for loose bulk m aterials - Troughed belt conveyors (other than portable
conveyors) - Belt pulleys, lst Ed., 1975.
O fficers: C.W . Nelson, M.G. Cohen, A.E W ock e, W . Stobbs, S. Herholdt, J.R Brierley, P.N.J. W hite, R.P. Hannon, G.A. Frangs and D. McArthur.

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