Understanding the Diverter Plow (Diversion Plough)
A diverter plow (also known as a diversion plough) is a machine that is fitted to a conveyor that can redirect or discharge the material being conveyed at a location between the tail and head ends.
Often compared to a luggage sorting system at the airport, a diverter plow is the bulk material handling equivalent. When a diverter plow is engaged, the blade is lowered (or the conveyor belt is raised). The system then diverts the conveyed material down an accompanying chute onto the conveyors or stock pile below.
Breaking Down the Diverter Plow
The main components of a diverter plow are:
- The blade;
- Belt support;
- Discharge chutes;
- Structural frame.
The blades are designed to contact the conveyor belt and redirect and push the conveyed material into the side chutes.
Diverter plow blades are generally single or double sided (V-shaped). Single-sided blades are used in single chute designs as the material is directed in one direction only.
Double-sided blades are used when discharge chutes are required on both sides of the diverter plow. Some of the factors which can determine which design your application needs are the conveyor run speed, the conveyed material and the impact force of the material.
During the normal operation of the conveyor, the conveyor belt forms a trough which assists in keeping the material on the conveyor belt. The belt support is a system of rollers which raise the belt to a flat horizontal plain, effectively removing the trough from the belt. This function allows the blade to come into full contact with the belt, avoiding the need to drag the material up and out of the trough.
The discharge chutes catch the material diverted by the blade over the side of the flattened belt and guides the material down to a suitable discharge location below the conveyor structure.
Typical discharge locations include loading points on another conveyor, storage bins, stock piles or a dump truck parked below the discharge chute. Depending on the desired outcome, the discharged material may re-join the process, be segregated, or moved to another location or stock pile for later further handling.
The diverter plow frame is built from structural steel and is designed to withstand the load of the material changing direction.
How Does a Diverter Plow Work?
Designed to fit onto an existing conveyor structure, the diverter plow allows the normal operation of the conveyor to continue even when the diverter plow is not in use.
When activated, the diverter plow blade will start to lower onto the belt while the belt support lifts the belt from a trough shape to a flat shape.
The blade will lightly contact the belt across the entire width, ready to divert material away from the belt surface.
Material then impacts the blade in a steady stream, and the blade will begin to push the material to one or both sides of the conveyor, into discharge chutes.
Often compared to a bulldozer sitting on top of a conveyor system, the diverter plow has the same function: diverting material. Our diverter plow blades are made from high wear-resistance materials because the blades come into constant contact with extremely rough and coarse material which can easily wear away unsuitably designed blades.
Blades are commonly made out of hardened steel, engineered plastics or polyurethane depending on the application.
The composition of the blades is an important consideration in the design process. The blade needs to be wear-resistant enough to withstand the application but at the same time be subtle enough not to damage the conveyor belt.
The belt support mechanism is constructed in a series of transitions and flat idlers that shape the belt from trough profile to a flat profile when engaged.
A mechanical energy source (such as a hydraulic cylinder, pneumatic cylinder or electric motor) is connected to the belt support mechanism in order to lift the belt.
Single or Double-Sided Blade
The choice of blade is generally dictated by 3 factors:
- How fast the conveyor is running;
- How much material is being conveyed;
- Where the material being is moved to.
A single-sided blade is useful when the material flows easily or the belt is relatively narrow.
There are some limitations on the single-sided blade. Due to the material flow being redirected in one direction, there is a limit on how material can be moved across the belt width and down through the chute.
If the flow rate is too high, issues of overflow and blockages can occur.
The double-sided blade can handle a higher flow rate when compared to a single-sided blade. Because the flow is split into two different streams, the distance the material needs to travel to reach the belt edge is reduced and the amount of material passing through each chute is reduced. The disadvantage of the double-sided blade is that additional structures and chutes need to be built which is an added cost.
Single Bladed Diverter Plow
Double Bladed Diverter Plow
Why Use a Diverter Plow?
A diverter plow is not typically designed into a new conveyor system; rather it becomes a necessity as the requirements of a bulk materials plant changes.
In a perfect world, a tripper would be installed onto the conveyor which would operate in the same way as a diverter plow. However, a tripper is a very expensive system of pulleys, idlers, chutes and structures that take up a lot of space.
A diverter plow is relatively compact compared to a tripper conveyor. It has the added bonus capability of letting material pass through to the original discharge location.
A diverter plow can be designed to fit onto any conveyor with little modification (if any) to the existing structure.
Diverter plows are also a relatively low cost in design, manufacture and installation when compared to other solutions.
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