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Metso Belt Turners Prove Beneficial at Hanson Quarry

First published in the July 2013 issue of Quarry Management as Turn and Turn Again

Metso belt turner improves safety and reduces costly cleaning and maintenance at Needingworth Quarry

Well known for its progressive safety practices and its environmental work, Hanson Aggregates’ Needingworth sand and gravel quarry, in Cambridgeshire, recently installed a Metso belt turner on one of its long conveyors, resulting in a cleaner, more productive facility and less hazardous manual handling cleaning work for employees.

Environmental advantages

With some 3km of conveyor belts at Needingworth Quarry, including a section that runs over an environmentally sensitive wetlands area, a few years ago the quarry was required by local government planners to install a belt-turning device to minimize the potential for waste and dust to fall into the water below. This experience proved so positive that Hanson did not hesitate to consider installing a second belt turner when the need arose.

Improving efficiency

Needingworth’s initial interest in installing a second belt turner was to reduce the need for cleaning under the conveyor, which was recognized as a significant manual handling procedure for operators. Cleaning the sand and dust from beneath the quarry’s 450m long conveyor (part of which runs through a tunnel) was very time-consuming and formed part of the belt operative’s daily task. While the use of a belt scraper removed some of the sand and dust from the belt, any fines that were not removed would fall from the return side as it passed over the return rollers. Therefore, in the autumn of 2012, the company decided to install another Metso belt turner.

How does it work?

The Metso belt turner turns the dirty side of the belt so that it faces upwards when it is by the drive pulley, and then turns it back over again at the tail pulley. With the dirty side facing upwards, the material cannot fall to the ground and accumulate below the conveyor, so instead of piles of sand and dust building up underneath each of the return rollers, these piles are now isolated to two easily accessible positions, at the head and the tail, which can be cleaned up much more safely and efficiently, reducing the manual handling risks to operators.

Simple design and easy installation

Unlike competing products, which quarry foreman Frank Johnson describes as ‘over-engineered’, the Metso belt turner is simple in its design and easy to install. In Needingworth’s case, there was very little space under the conveyor, so the conveyor structure had to be lifted by 0.5m for about 4m in length, to make space for the belt to turn. ‘Even though we had challenges with limited space for installing the Metso belt turner, the whole installation still only took one day,’ commented Mr Johnson. The Metso belt turner has now been operating continually for more than six months without any problems and without the need for maintenance or adjustments.

Unexpected benefits

The Metso belt turner not only fulfils the quarry’s objectives of creating a safer working environment by reducing manual-handling operations and helping to achieve the company’s objective of zero harm, but also delivers several other unexpected advantages. For example, in cold weather, operators no longer need to spend time salting the drum to prevent frost build-up, while reduced friction between the belt and the return rollers indicates that the quarry may also save energy, although this has yet to be documented. Needingworth Quarry favours the use of nylon rollers, which offer some benefits but can be problematic and expensive if they stall due to material build-up. Prior to installing the belt turner, staff were having to change rollers frequently but this task has now been significantly reduced, saving both time and money. Indeed, the quarry is so pleased with all these positive results that the installation of further Metso belt turners is now being considered.

For more information contact: Phil Peatfield, services sales manager UK & Ireland, Metso Minerals (UK) Ltd, Parkfield Road, Rugby, Warks CV21 1QJ; tel: +44 (0)1788 532100; mob: 07775 702761; fax:+44 (0)1788 547883; email: [email protected]; website:

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