Inpro/Seal belt conveyor recognized by Mine Safety and Health Administration

Inpro/Seal Company, the Rock Island, Ill.-based manufacturer of bearing isolators, has announced that the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) has recognized their Belt Conveyor Idler/Roller Bearing Isolator, assigned it tag #AP2007-93304 and posted it on their website– www.msha.gov

The Mission Of The MSHA

Part of the U.S. Department of Labor, the Mine Safety and Health Administration administers the provisions of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 and enforces compliance with mandatory safety and health standards as a means to eliminate fatal accidents; to reduce the frequency and severity of nonfatal accidents; to minimize health hazards; and to promote improved mine safety and health.

Accident Prevention Program

The MSHA's accident prevention program, which addresses safety and reliability, can be found on their website – www.msha.gov.  This site provides safety tips, programs, and material that can be used to prevent mining accidents. It also identifies innovative products that can help reduce mine hazards.  On January 31, 2007, the Inpro/Seal Belt Conveyor Idler/Roller Bearing Isolator was recognized by the MSHA for its safety and reliability issues it assigned it with their tag #AP2007-93304.   Once at the website, information can be found in a number of locations, including:  safety, non-sparking conveyor; safety; reliability; innovative products; conveyors and related search areas.

The Use Of Belt Conveyors

Belt conveyors are used extensively to transport bulk materials, such as coal and ores. Typically, their belts are supported by three conveyor rollers (or idlers), positioned at intervals as close as three linear feet.  One roller is horizontal; the other two are located on either side, at an angle necessary to carry the burden.

In the mining industry it is estimated that each mine has 3-4 miles of conveyor with idlers strung out the entire length of the belt.  Depending on the application, they operate above and under ground and may extend for many miles over mountainous terrain, roads and streams.  There may be as many as 10,500 bearings on the conveyor rollers per mile of run.

Ineffective Sealing Methods

Before the advent of Inpro/Seal's Belt Conveyor Idler/Roller Bearing Isolator, end users had to deal with ineffective methods to protect idler bearings.   Because they were cheap and nothing else was available, spring-loaded elastomeric seals were used.  The problem was that, as a contact seal, these tiny plastic devices made contact with each other, rubbed on the exterior of the idler roll when operating and were prone to early failure, making the entire bearing protection system somewhat precarious. 

Failure Is Not An Option

When an idler fails, it is most likely to be the result of bearing damage caused by contaminants entering the bearing environment where they condense and contaminate the lubricant and cause the bearings to fail.   Chances are the plastic has worn out, grooved the shaft or burned to a crisp at the point of contact. The end result is a seized roll, belt damage or worse.  The idler can burst open, and if it does, metal-on-metal contact can cause sparking.   To counter, most mining operations employ greasers to try to keep idler bearings lubricated in an effort to make contact seals work.  Because contact seals carry a 100% failure rate, eventually end users have to deal with catastrophic belt failure.

Enter The Belt Conveyor Idler Roller Bearing Isolator

To counter, Inpro/Seal took their bearing isolator, a compound labyrinth bearing protection device, that they invented (and patented) in 1977 and modified it for use mining and other bulk solid applications.  A non-contacting, non-sparking bronze labyrinth type seal, it provides safe, permanent bearing protection that never wears out and requires only a negligible amount of energy to operate.

In September of 2006, based upon direct customer request, continuous R&D and extensive field testing, Inpro/Seal announced their Belt Conveyor Idler/Roller Bearing Isolator.  Initially, it was developed for use in coal mining to help boost productivity, save energy and most importantly increase safety.  It has additional applications in aggregate, concrete and related applications that use belt conveyors.

The MSHA Recommendation

In mid-October 2006, David C. Orlowski, President/CEO of Inpro/Seal and the inventor of the bearing isolator made initial contact with the MSHA.  Over the next few months photography and operating detail was submitted to MSHA people who fully understood what this product could mean to mining people. On January 31, 2007, the Inpro/Seal Belt Conveyor Idler/Roller Bearing Isolator obtained MSHA recognition and assigned MSHA tag #AP2007-93304.  This is significant for Inpro/Seal as this is their first product to carry a government agency stamp of recognition.
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