In the world of bulk material handling, steel roller conveying systems have been unrivalled for decades. But for mining companies dealing with potash, coal and aggregates, such corrosive or abrasive materials severely wear steel rollers causing costly maintenance and replacement fees, not to mention downtime. In some environments, operators are lucky if the rollers last a year.
Those days could come to a grinding halt with Calgary-based Resin Systems Inc.’s (RS) RStandard, a composite roller tube that lasts four to five times longer than steel. Targeting the bulk material handling segment, it was the first permanent replacement to hit the market in late 2007 as part of a pilot project at a Portland, Ore. potash load-out facility. As a result of the “roll out”, the plant has placed a repeat order.
“When we first tested it, we found it outperformed the steel, as well as [improved] corrosion and abrasion resistance. Since the launch of this product, numerous pilot installation orders have been rolling in,” says RS president Paul Giannelia.
Until late 2003, RS was a research and development firm. Its work on a polyurethane thermoset resin system led to the production of its first product, the RStandard utility pole. Now it develops advanced composite material products based on its proprietary resin for infrastructure markets.
“Over the first three years of that journey, we went through concept and prototype to designing the equipment necessary to make the utility pole parts,” says Giannelia.
The composite material is made of two components—resin and fibreglass.
“The resin itself is quite strong. But to maximize the strength we put fibreglass inside the structure,” says Giannelia. “It’s not just a glue like other resins. Our system can take impact.”
He compares it to a car bumper made out of composites. When such a bumper is hit, it shatters because it’s made with a polyester resin and fibreglass. If you want to strengthen a bumper, you would add more fibreglass, which means more resin would be needed and the bumper would become bulky. That isn’t attractive to the automotive industry.