Potash, one of the most important commodities for the food economy, is shipped across the world from the huge docks in the Port of Vancouver (Canada). This water-soluble crop nutrient is an indispensable ingredient in fertilizers and therefore essential for global agriculture, because fertilizers that promote healthy crop growth are becoming increasingly important in ensuring that the constantly expanding global population can also be fed in the future.
Canada is the world’s largest producer and exporter of potash. According to Natural Resources Canada, the country exported around 19 million tonnes of potash in 2017 and is the leading player in the global export market, with a market share of almost 40 percent. Natural Resources Canada’s calculations show that the country of lakes and forests contains around a billion tonnes of potash – meaning it holds approximately one-quarter of global reserves.
Even more top conveyor belt performance thanks to ContiPlus
Ensuring that the potash arrives safely and efficiently at customers throughout the world is where we come in. Our ContiPlus digital service solution – available both as an online portal and an app – provides one of the largest transshipment centers in Canada with important data on the conveyors equipped with our belts, thereby increasing reliability in the quality of the potash handling process. The belt conveyors in the Port of Vancouver deliver potash to further storage or directly to the vessels for shipping. The volumes – and therefore the load on the conveyor belts – are enormous. The relevant terminals have two berths for potash operations. One has two quadrant shiploaders that can operate simultaneously, each with a rated capacity of 2,500 tonnes/hour. The second has a single linear shiploader also capable of loading 2,500 tonnes/hour.
Precise predictions and information on the condition of the conveyor belt system
The terminal operators use our ContiPlus software and the associated app to ensure our conveyor belts withstand this volume of material for as long as possible and can be maintained predictively. The conveyor belt systems and their processes can be continually optimized thanks to the precise condition monitoring allowed by the program. In this, the thickness of the conveyor belt top cover is measured at each service using a mobile ultrasound scanner and stored in a database. This provides a continuous record of the belt’s condition. Based on the data, the program can predict when a belt should be changed because of wear. That means the conveyor belt’s lifetime can be fully exploited while avoiding costly downtime at the same time. “An important economic benefit,” says Lyall Sharman, area sales manager for industrial products at Continental. “Once the belt has almost reached the end of its lifetime, the customer, distributor or sales employee receives a notification on their mobile device to coordinate the belt change.”
Transparency is key
The major benefit of ContiPlus is that the system can capture, evaluate and document all the data relevant to a conveyor belt system. “Transparency is significantly increased. Every new employee immediately has access to all the information on the belt system, i.e. including its history. That saves a great deal of time and money,” emphasizes Sharman. We are continuing to further develop the ContiPlus system based on individual customer and market circumstances. For instance, a more straightforward overview is now provided by a new interface with a folder structure. Further additions are being planned. ContiPlus is not just in operation in the Canadian market. The system is also already available in the US, Mexico, Australia, Chile and Brazil. Trials are underway in further countries.
We are therefore making a significant contribution to ensuring that the global demand for potash is met – safeguarding the agriculture sector and food security.