September 21, 2016
Martin Engineering says it designed its Martin Roll Gen System with an innovative technology that uses the kinetic energy from a moving conveyor belt to generate power, creating a self-contained mini power station that allows operators to run electrical monitoring systems and safety mechanisms. The system can be retrofitted on existing idler support structures. Operators are not required to maintain a special stock of conveyor rollers, as the generator can be used on virtually any steel roller. The device helps make conveyors the next generation of “smart systems” that will be more sustainable and autonomous.
“We found that we could draw energy from a moving belt by attaching an independent generator directly to one of the rollers,” says Paul Harrison, Global Engineering Manager, in a company press release. “This way, the conveyor could produce power without altering the structure of the system or affecting its physical configuration.”
In the new, patent-pending design, a “drive dog” is attached to the end face of the roll resting on the generator using magnets. The drive dog engages the generator through the outer housing’s machined drive tabs. The magnetic attachment ensures that electrical or mechanical overload does not force the roll to stop; instead the magnets will slip on the roll face.
On conveyors that already employ Martin Trac-Mount Idlers (TMI) outside of a loading zone, installation takes only two minutes, requiring only the removal of the wing slide on one end to replace it with the Roll Generator slide. The TMI design is said to be well-suited to tight spaces, with just 8 inches of clearance needed for 6-inch rolls. Standard rollers can be difficult to replace without ample clearance, but the slide-in/slide-out roller frames allow quick service, without the need to raise the belt or remove adjacent idlers.
“The generator can also be installed on its own mount or on other existing support structures, such as a belt tracker,” Harrison adds. “All components to ‘condition’ the power to a steady 24VDC are enclosed in a protective cabinet, typically mounted directly on the idler support slide.”
The reliable power supply allows designers to equip their systems with devices such as weigh scales, proximity switches, moisture sensors, pressure switches, solenoids, and relays, as well as timers, lights, and additional safety mechanisms. Wireless communication can be used to transmit directly to a central controller, giving operators a cost-effective way to access data, taking another step toward “smarter” conveyor systems.
“The capability to store power in a small battery bank is already in development,” Harrison says. “This will allow the generator to produce five to 10 times higher amperage for short periods to power higher-wattage devices.”