Anyone loading bulk material onto a conveyor understands spillage and dust. Whatever you’re transferring gets jostled around, creating a dusty mess and a growing mound of escaped material. Had enough? Enough shovelling and cleaning?

It’s high time you discover conveyor belt skirting. Skirting is a simple solution that’ll decrease parts damage and improve uptime. Let’s find out how skirting works and why it’s a smart investment.

What conveyor belt skirting will do for you

Many industries, such as coal, potash, and trona mining, use a conveyor system to transport bulk materials. As particles fall from a chute onto a conveyor, they bounce and impact each other; not everything stays on the belt.

Conveyor belt skirting fastens to the transfer point (typically where materials drop out of a chute and onto a moving belt) with clamps or a simple nut & bolt system. The skirting surrounds the transfer chute, which keeps materials and dust from escaping.

How conveyor belt skirting works

Conveyor belt skirting lightly presses against the top of a conveyor belt to form a seal. The skirting works in tandem with other system design features, such as trough angle, belt speed, and idler placement, to reduce material spills and airborne dust.

Conveyor belt skirting materials

Selecting the appropriate skirting material ensures reliable, long-lasting service while keeping fugitive particles to a minimum. A variety of options allows you to match a skirt’s material properties to your operational needs.

  • Rubber skirting comes in a range of hardness—soft rubber is best for controlling very fine particles and dust, including sand. Harder rubber is resistant to materials like rock and gravel that may cause scratching and scraping.
  • A durable polyurethane skirt is best for extremely high-wear situations where there’s a risk of cutting and gouging, such as rock crushing operations.
  • Fire-resistant anti-static (FRAS) rubber is often used in underground mining to prevent ignition hazards caused by static electricity.

Conveyor belt skirting is also available with specialized characteristics, such as heat or oil resistance, to prolong the skirting’s life (and effectiveness) in harsh environments.

Skirting maintenance

A skirting system that’s too loose allows excessive material and dust to escape. Skirting that’s too tight may cause undue wear on the top of the belt. Preventing these two scenarios is what maintenance is for. Luckily, conveyor belt skirting maintenance is not overly complicated.

For maintenance: 1) Check the skirting for wear and replace as necessary; 2) Tighten the clamps securing the skirting; 3) Ensure skirting alignment—it should sit evenly along the entire length of the belt.

Why your conveyor system needs skirting

We’ve already looked at what conveyor belt skirting does, how it works, and some material characteristics to consider. But why is it important to have skirting?

Let’s dig further into the benefits of adding skirting to your conveyor.

Reduce harmful dust emissions at transfer points

Dust is a serious workplace issue in many industries. Even when the dust is not classified as health hazardous, exposure can cause breathing problems, nose and throat irritation, and poor worksite visibility.

Exposure to dust also impedes safety and lowers morale. As dust builds up, it leads to slips; plus, the fine particles tend to gunk up equipment, cover signage, and stifle ventilation.

While dust cannot be avoided entirely, an employer must provide a safe workplace “free from recognized hazards,” and that includes dust control.

Keep material where it belongs; on the conveyor belt

Material leaking past your chute walls reduces operational efficiency, which cuts into productivity and profitability (especially for expensive products, where small material losses add up significantly over time).

Conveyor belt skirting decreases the chance of spillage at loading points by restricting fugitive material—no more shovelling debris away.

Protect your workplace from explosive dust particles

Under the right conditions, a cloud of dust can become explosive. Combustible dust includes most organic materials, many metals, and some inorganic materials. Even substances that aren’t “typically” combustible may explode in dust form.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), explosive dust “presents a fire or deflagration hazard when suspended in air”. Conveyor belt skirting controls dust particles to reduce or eliminate the risk of explosion.

Mitigate equipment and operating downtime

The last thing you want for your operation is downtime. If workers spend hours cleaning dust and shovelling spillage, the skirting will limit the mess, making employees more productive.

Conveyor belt skirting saves maintenance downtime and prevents expensive damage to parts like rollers, bearings, belts, shafts, bushings, and more.

Superior design by west river conveyors

When West River Conveyors designs a custom conveyor system, we work with you to fully understand the details of your operation. We make a concentrated effort to develop a system that reduces dust and escaped materials.

Here are some of our custom-design success stories:

  • Mosaic Potash – Innovative in-mine conveyor system bolted to the roof of the potash mine using heavy-duty structural steel. A standardized list of spare components means minimal inventory to store underground.
  • Blue Water Industries – Large scale, overland, mobile conveyor system maximizing stability for aggregate transportation. The 1,000-foot custom belt can be moved to a different location without dismantling equipment.
  • Buchanan Mines – Redesign of the current system to create a compact coal transfer assembly. Tailored specifically for the mine complex, the new system decreased cleanup needs and increased productivity.