Dennis Pomfret, Gary Telford and Tom Woods bring practical hands-on experience as well as technological expertise to their designs

A NEW generation of coal and ore materials handling technology is being introduced to the mining industry by a group that engineers chutes and complementary systems to permit faster conveyor belt speeds, greater throughputs, fewer breakdowns and enhanced safety.

Chute Technology engineering group targets problems common to many coal and ore plants and loading systems by addressing them with a combination of three skill sets - advanced engineering analysis of flow, upscaleable 3D Discrete Element Method design processes and custom manufacturing to individual plant needs.

The combined technologies are applicable to existing and new projects, and are complemented by the practical experience of each of Chute's three principal partners, who have combined experience of more than 80 years in a variety of resource industries across Australia, USA, South America and South Africa.

Major benefits of the chute design technologies have been demonstrated by a Western Australian iron ore producer which increased production 50%. Several Hunter Valley coal mines are also benefitting from less wear and fewer breakdowns because of practical individualized designs produced by one of the partners, long-established Hunter Valley mining industry supplier TW Woods.

Chute Technology combines the manufacturing experience of TW Woods, represented by director Tom Woods, with the similarly broad engineering and technology experience of engineering consultant Dennis Pomfret of Dennis Pomfret Engineering, and design engineer Gary Telford of McKajj Services, which contributes extensive project management, engineering and drafting experience. All are Newcastle based.

"We believe Chute Technology brings together a combination of skills unique in the marketplace - proven skill sets vital to solving typical mineral processing issues," says Tom Woods. These include reducing wear, removing bottlenecks caused by clogging, minimizing damaging impacts on belts, and optimizing operational safety and efficiency by curbing breakdowns and clean-ups.

"Existing designs have fundamentally been stuck in the past, because few companies have seen the need to take advantage of innovations now available with advancing technology and knowledge. As producers aim to double and treble outputs, the underlying problems are becoming starkly apparent through breakdowns, downtime, problems with sticky material throughput and spillage, creating clean-up and safety issues.

"Supervisors on sites or loading facilities are often painfully aware that they have got the problem but the issues have become so prevalent that they sometimes think of it as inevitable. It's not inevitable, just inefficient and a matter of rectifying the problem with focused design and smarter manufacturing," says Tom Woods.

Through a specialist company focused on design, manufacture and optimization of materials handling systems, the partners aim to deliver benefits by applying rigorous design skills and practical know-how gained by experience in mines, ports and industrial plants.

"In addition to a proven capability to design new chutes, the new organization will specialize in retrofitting existing plants. A principal aim will be to eliminate reliability problems and production obstacles to bring handling systems up to their full potential," says Dennis Pomfret.

"The three parties involved in Chute Technology have worked together on transfer chutes and have identified an opportunity to combine resources to form a company that focuses on chutes. We are focusing our capabilities to provide a superior service and product that can be delivered to customers by dedicated effort rather than a generalized engineering approach," he says.

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