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2020 / 2021 Edition

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Europe’s longest conveyor

Conveyor for Vicat in France

Techmi and ContiTech install conveyor across distance of 6.2km for French cement manufacturer

THE longest conveyor belt in Europe has recently gone into operation feeding a cement plant in eastern France, thanks to a collaboration between Techmi and their partners ContiTech.

Situated on the banks of the Rhône between Lyon and Geneva, the small town of Montalieu is home to a cement plant owned and operated by Vicat. To transport limestone to the plant from the quarry some 6.2km away, Vicat required a cost-effective solution and launched a project to realize their needs by means of conveyor belt.

The company engaged Techmi, French experts in bulk handling, to build the entire conveyor system. In 2012, Techmi compiled a quotation including specific requirements concerning the belt, and in 2013 ContiTech beat a large number of other bidders to become Techmi’s strategic partner on the project.

‘Requirements for this conveyor belt were tough, especially for return solution,’ commented Stefan Hoheisel, segment leader for industry at the Conveyor Belt Group, ‘but the end result of the project is something to be proud of. The endless belt is about 13km long and does a twist and turn on the head and tail of the system to run parallel to the loaded belt on the return.’

‘For Vicat and Techmi, the classic return solution wasn’t really an option on this occasion. The innovative turn solution means we now have a base construction which is no higher than 80cm,’ explained Nicolas Raphaël, team leader of the French conveyor belt team.

‘Another advantage is that limestone residues remain on the return belt rather than falling underneath it. This makes the system considerably easier to clean and is an advantage not just for Vicat, but also for the environment.’

Based on a Techmi patent, concrete walls and a cover encase the entire conveyor, ensuring that the system blends into its surroundings and allowing people, animals and vehicles to cross over the construction without any problems.

‘We opted to work with ContiTech for a number of different reasons,’ explained Techmi’s owner  René Brunone. ‘They have many years of practical experience with conveyor belts that negotiate bends and they deliver high-quality and eco-friendly products. In addition, they were able to manufacture the belt very quickly, which also impressed us.’

The belt, as well as the steel cords for the carcass, were produced by ContiTech Imas in Volos, Greece. ‘It’s basically a Stahlcord ST1000-5+5 X, a steel cable conveyor that’s resistant to abrasion, weather and corrosion,’ said Mr Raphaël. ‘It’s also thermally stable, highly durable and low maintenance.’

ContiTech produced and delivered the belt within just five weeks. First, a total of thirteen 1km rolls, each weighing 20 tonnes, were shipped from Volos to Fos-sur-Mer on the French Mediterranean coast, before being transported by heavy trucks more than 360km to Montalieu.

In Montalieu, a team from ContiTech France and the service team from the company’s headquarters in Northeim, Germany, were on site to assemble the belt. ‘We did the job in two stages and spent a total of two months on location splicing the 13 sections of belt together in the middle of winter,’ said Jan Poppe, head of field service international.

Powered by three 250kW electric motors, the 260-tonne conveyor belt has now been in operation since mid-October. In normal conditions, the belt transports limestone at a rate of up to 700 tonnes/h, but at maximum capacity it can move as much as 1,000 tonnes/h.

‘We’re more than happy with the way this project has turned out. With Techmi and ContiTech, we had two extremely competent partners by our side,’ said Vicat’s project manager, Eric Galloy.

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