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Design and testing of a magnetic suspension for a 90° horizontal bend conveyor

Massimo Fabbri (Department of Electric, Electronic and Information Engineering, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy)
Pier Luigi Ribani (Department of Electric, Electronic and Information Engineering, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy)
Davide Zuffa (FlexLink System S.p.A., Bologna, Italy)

Abstract

Purpose

A conveyor device is studied with the aim to reduce the friction between the inner surface of the beam and the chain. The lower is the friction between the chain and the beam, the lower is the surface wear. The magnetic repulsion force among permanent magnets (PMs) placed on the beam and on the chain is utilized to reduce friction. The paper aims to discuss these issues.

Design/methodology/approach

The considered magnetic suspension is realized with PMs in repulsive configuration; it is designed by solving a constrained optimization problem, with reference to the geometry of the 90° horizontal bend FlexLink WL322 conveyor. Flux density field and its gradient are evaluated using volume integral equation method, allowing to calculate the forces acting on the chain and the stiffness of the magnetic suspension.

Findings

The magnetic suspension prototype was manufactured and tested. The experimental and calculated values of the forces acting on the chain compares well. A stable horizontal equilibrium of the chain was obtained during both static and dynamical tests.

Research limitations/implications

The quasi-static model used neglects the dynamical interactions among the elements of the chain, the PMs and loads weight during motions and the eddy current losses in the aluminium beam. However the dynamical tests on the prototype show that the chain motion is regular up to the nominal velocity all along the conveyor with the exception of the trailing edge of the 90° curve.

Practical implications

The tests on the prototype show the possibility of a removal or at least a reduction of the friction force between the chain and the inner side of the beam by means of a passive magnetic suspension. As a consequence a reduction of noise and vibrations and an increase of the mean-time-to-failure is expected.

Originality/value

Prototype testing shows that the unavoidable vertical instability of the magnetic forces has no practical consequence since, reducing the allowed vertical gap, the chain is stabilized by the gravitational force.

Keywords

Citation

Fabbri, M., Ribani, P.L. and Zuffa, D. (2015), "Design and testing of a magnetic suspension for a 90° horizontal bend conveyor", COMPEL - The international journal for computation and mathematics in electrical and electronic engineering, Vol. 34 No. 1, pp. 380-396. https://doi.org/10.1108/COMPEL-02-2014-0049

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited