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A chain reaction

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World Cement,

KettenWulf describes the development of efficient, sustainable and resource-saving central bucket elevator chains for the cement industry.

The term ‘high speed conveying’ covers the vertical transport of various fine and coarse-grained and sometimes highly abrasive bulk material such as limestone, clinker, cement, phosphates and coal in a wide variety of industries, most of which relates to cement and fertiliser production.

Bucket elevators with a central chain ensure smooth material throughput in the individual production sectors and are therefore of fundamental importance to ensure a clean production flow. Chains are subject to extreme requirements in terms of dynamic and mechanical stress, coping with conveying heights of up to 90 m, capacities of almost 2000 m3/h, conveyed material with temperatures of up to 850°C and speeds of up to 2.0 m/s.

On the customer side, too, the requirements for the product are no less challenging: reaching maximum product lifetime with only a minimum of maintenance effort for maximum plant availability at ever increasing capacities is one of the basic requests. However, the environmental aspect is new. Every company now has its own environmental policy, which deals in particular with the issues of energy efficiency and resource conservation to protect the ecosystem. Key figures are systematically determined and published in sustainability reports; most plants have implemented an internal environmental programme or energy management system.

This also holds true for KettenWulf. For decades, the company has established its own policy to help protect the environment. Besides many measures for creating sustainable production in all of its plants, KettenWulf has also been continuously investing in the development of environmentally friendly product solutions. These products have been placed on the market and have proven their reliability in many different industries. Now, for the first time, a chain has been developed for the high-speed conveying sector, which not only makes a significant contribution to environmental protection through a range of innovative properties, but which also meets the above-mentioned technical requirements for plant availability.

Engineering know-how and spirit of innovation

One of the main criteria when developing these new chains was to make them as light as possible without reducing their fatigue strength. The requirements of the VDI2324 guideline (Verein Deutscher Ingenieure/Association of German Engineers) had to be maintained at any rate.

The project started with a benchmarking of the products which had so far been used in the market. In close collaboration with an external institute, possible weak spots in the products were detected and the room for improvement was analysed. The focus here was on recording the requirements in terms of geometry and compatibility with existing plant concepts. By means of the Finite Element Method (FEM) and many practical tests in KettenWulf’s own laboratory, it was finally possible to develop a new generation of central bucket elevator chains that were reliable in terms of both geometry and material selection.

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