Design Optimization of a Bucket Elevator
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Yin , Edward
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A failure of conveyor chain links in a production process can cause unscheduled shutdowns, which increase the throughput time coupled with damaged buckets and chain links, which increase maintenance and repair costs. Since failures of conveyor chains are inevitable, this research aims to modify the design of the chain bucket elevator by incorporating a ratchet mechanism, which will prevent the chain bucket assembly from dropping to the bottom of the chain bucket elevator whenever there is a chain-link failure and also avoid the jamming of the bucket chain assembly against one another when dropping to the bottom of the elevator during failure. The number of damaged buckets and chains will be minimal, thereby reducing the maintenance and repair costs. Also, the time required for replacing the failed chain link will be reduced, which in turn, will reduce the down-time, thereby increasing the production rate. The ratchet mechanism, which can withstand a maximum load of 38.10 kN, comprises a toothed wheel, a pawl, and a spring. An analytical method was employed for the initial analysis and the results were verified using the FEM. Topology Optimization was carried out on the beam and lever with results showing a 20% and 26% weight reduction from the original, respectively. The stresses induced in the beam and lever increased significantly by 36% and 47 %, respectively, because of the optimization, however, they remained within the acceptable limits.
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