There is a task: to deliver some goods from point A to point B. There are possible solutions: by truck. But it consumes almost 3,000 tons of diesel a year with its constantly rising cost. Maybe by train, then? And if it’s swampy there, how do we lay the rails? Only aviation remains, but their rates are way more expensive. Are there other solutions? How can we transport the goods at the lowest cost for the Company?
Tip: in a situation when the path of the cargo carrier faces harsh terrain, water barriers, power transmission lines, agricultural land, large-scale residential developments and other obstacles, the use of cargo suspended ropeways (CSRW) is considered the most preferential. Is this a final solution or just a starting point in the optimization of haulage?
The advantages of suspended cargo ropeways
Such routes can be located even at an altitude of 6,000 m above sea level. They are also suitable for transportation of almost all types of goods, really making the delivery process much cheaper, if we are talking about long-term prospects. In addition, CSRW help to reduce the haulage distance, because the route is laid on the shortest way. Such roads can be used in any weather, except strong wind.
CSRW is also a godsend for ecology. It is run by electricity, almost noiselessly; no need to cut down forests or withdraw great amounts of land during the construction of routes.
Therefore, experts estimate the prospects to create such roads quite high. For example, if you upgrade equipment for all types of ropeways, you can increase efficiency to 750 – 1,000 tons per hour. Transportation of 1 ton of cargo with single-rope ways costs 0.5 – 1 USD, with double-rope ways – from 0.7 to 1.5 U.S. dollars.
However, the use of CSRW entails very high risks. They are related to a breakage of the carrier or traction rope. This can lead not only to material damage, but also to human losses, especially if the ropeway passes over built-up areas or transport routes.
Other disadvantages of suspended cargo ropeways
First, high costs for the construction and installation of such routes in highlands, where they are most often used. They pay off only in the case of long-term use. In addition, it will take a lot of time to haul goods over long distances, even at high speeds.
Another disadvantage in CSRW are difficulties with the transportation of fine substances. At negative temperatures, the product may freeze up. Besides, it is quite difficult to provide automatic unloading in CSRW.
Hence, this option is not suitable for solving the problem.
According to experts, if we sum up the costs of buying, installing and operating a system for transporting fine matters via CSRW, it will turn out that belt conveyors will be more profitable. Nevertheless, when designing conveyor belts, developers will again face acquisition of land, construction expenses, restrictions in the curvature of the route. In addition, the cost of each conveyor kilometer rises if the total line length increases. The cost growth is exponential.
Other options of cargo transportation
Apparently, the problem might be solved with a hybrid version – a rope-belt conveyor. It has separate moving rope and carrying belt parts. It combines the advantages of both types of freight transport. Transportation can be done over long distances on a complex route. At the same time, nothing will happen to bulk materials. The rope-belt conveyor guarantees reliable transportation, optimization of expenses for assembly and operation, as well as high throughput.
Doppelmayr company builds such roads. Their system is called RopeCon. It consists of a flat belt serving as a traction element, with corrugated sides. The belt is a supported tape with axles bolted at equal distances. Running wheels are attached at the ends of the axles. They move on taut and fixed bearing steel ropes and guide the belt. At the end points, the belt passes both the drive and bypass drums. The bearing ropes are raised above the ground by means of supports. The maximum distance between the supports is up to 1,500 m. However, there are drawbacks here, too.
The RopeCon system uses ropes with limited lifetime. They are replaced on rope lines, on the average, every 6 – 8 years. Of course, the procedure of reinstalling one of the main elements in the system will be expensive. And the use of plastic wheels to reduce noise also has a reverse side with a minus sign. This material is much inferior in durability to metal. The efficiency factor in the coupling «plastic – metal» is lower than in the coupling «metal – metal» due to friction. Consequently, energy consumption increases. Unloading is carried out only at the end of the line and cannot be done at any of the route segments. In addition, these lines are highly specialized and suitable only for bulk cargo haulage.
SkyWay-style cargo transportation
SkyWay Technologies Co. offers a more universal system with a possibility of modular configuration. Such transport has all the advantages of CSRW and conveyor, but is devoid of their drawbacks. It can be adapted to almost any condition and need. Unitrans – for bulk goods. The system is using unitrucks – for piece and liquid goods. Containers can be transported using uniconts. It is easy to arrange transportation of passengers within these same systems. For example, working personnel to mine fields, ports, etc. Let’s compare Anatoly Yunitsky’s inventions with the existing solutions.
Unitrans is a continuous vehicle on wheel pairs that can turn around in the horizontal plane. Unlike conventional conveyors, unitrans has no limitations on the length. The system can be easily scaled. And in comparison with the ropeway, it allows to ensure greater safety of transported goods, too. Loading on the unitrans belt is carried out on the move from a special terminal, and unloading — without stopping the line due to the inclination of the belt in the horizontal plane. Therefore, unloading can be performed at any section of the track where special equipment is installed.
The loading and unloading process is always controlled by an automatic control system. Accordingly, the human factor and the need to pay staff disappears. However, these are not all the advantages:
- The track for unitrans can be built with twists and turns that is uncome-at-able to standard conveyor systems and the relatively new developments of RopeCon type.
- No roads will be required to maintain the system. Delivery of personnel and elements for repair and maintenance is carried out directly on the track.
- If necessary, combined transport systems can be created for the customer. For example, a product line connected to the route for piece goods (delivery of spare parts or materials during construction), or a line with passenger transport.
- Unitrans is resistant to natural disasters, vandalism and terrorist acts due to the continuous nature of the overpass, track structure and the product pipeline along the route, with five-fold safety margins of pre-stressed string elements.
- The belt is mounted on steel wheels that move not on the ropes, as in RopeCon, but on steel string rails. This increases the efficiency factor, reliability and durability of the system.
- If necessary, unitrans can be combined with the line for untrucks, uniconts and other types of SkyWay rolling stock, which significantly expands its scope of application.
The distance between anchor supports of all freight, passenger and combined transport systems depends on the terrain and can be 1-3 km long. Performance of SkyWay freight systems depends on the transported material. This figure reaches up to 1,500 tons per hour. In general, the customer has the opportunity to set any performance parameters, because the volume of traffic can be up to 100 million tons per year or more, and the distance is up to 500 km or more.
When creating all SkyWay systems, developers strive to minimize the amount of materials used for construction and the energy required for operation, and, on the contrary, to raise the efficiency to the limit. Anatoly Yunitsky’s know-how related to the design of pre-stressed string rails, aerodynamics of rolling stock, etc., allow executing these tasks with unprecedented efficiency.
And, of course, the environmental friendliness of SkyWay transport systems remains on top: they do not interfere with the existing natural system, they have low noise impacts and no harmful emissions.
So what is the correct answer?
When calculating the benefits of the project on the extraction and processing of minerals, the cost of transportation is called the main item of expenses. As you have already understood, at the present time enterprises use most often:
- suspended aerial ropeways;
It turns out that, regardless of the terrain, type of cargo and distance, it is more cost-efficient to use SkyWay cargo systems. This is the correct answer to our problem.