Safe, fault-free operations of conveyor systems are essential for obtaining production efficiency and profitability. The Schmersal Group offers intelligent components and systems for safe and efficient conveyor systems. These also include solutions for condition monitoring—the capture and evaluation of process and diagnosis data from system components to enable predictive maintenance and increase availability.

Raw materials are often transported in bulk directly from mines for processing or loaded onto rail vehicles or vessels for onward transport. Steel belt conveyor systems help bridge large distances of several kilometres, with speeds of up to 10,000 t/h.

Process safety is where conveyor belt operation starts and ends. Operating companies have an economic interest in a fault-free operation 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Faults, interruptions, or even failures of conveyor systems can have major consequences, from delays in delivery and short-term supply bottlenecks to significant production interruptions, such as in cement, power, and steel plants, which can come with high financial losses.

Over recent decades, Schmersal has steadily expanded its range of products and systems for process safety and personal protection in bulk materials handling (Figure 1).

The modular switchgear platform supports a range of applications.

One such example is the modular HDS switchgear series, designed for heavy industry use. It unites several functions into a single platform, allowing it to be used for various applications. Its key features include the uniform housing concept, consisting of a plastic version (thermoset) and a version of grey cast iron.

The plastic version is resistant to aggressive media and especially suitable in port logistics applications, loading and unloading operations, and in the agricultural industry in processing fertilisers and phosphates. The robust grey cast iron version is particularly suitable for use in mining.

The devices also come in two basic functional versions: 

Emergency stop, designed as a pull-wire emergency switch (Figure 2), and for position monitoring. The basic switch on the position monitor version can be flexibly combined with various actuation elements. Typical application areas include:

  • Emergency-stop shutdown.
  • Belt misalignment monitoring on conveyor belts.
  • End position monitoring in steelmaking.
  • Level monitoring in material silos.

Belt misalignment monitoring is an essential function in the process of protecting conveyor systems. Conveyor belts can run out of their designated tracks, causing considerable damage. Belt alignment switches (Figure 3) are used to detect any belt misalignment at an early stage. Smaller deviations trigger a warning, while more significant variations trigger a shutdown. The pre-warning gives the conveyor system owner’s maintenance department enough time to prevent unscheduled production shutdowns and rectify faults. Belt alignment switches thus help to reduce failures and downtimes and ensure greater system availability.

All basic versions of the HDS series can be optionally connected to the Dupline installation bus (Figure 4), allowing the switches to be quickly interconnected and connected in series, thus enabling easier transmission of diagnosis data.

Wireless data transmission for expansive conveyor systems

Working in cooperation with its system partner Aconno, the Schmersal Group is currently developing a new idea in the form of an Industry 4.0-capable switch. On expansive conveyor systems, this new switch will enable wireless transmission of status information over several kilometres. The benefit of this is easier monitoring, more rapid rectification of faults, and, in turn, better process protection. It will be possible to monitor all switching operations in real-time and online via a web browser on a PC or smartphone. The data from the cloud will be transmitted directly to the control centre or a smartphone in the hands of maintenance and service technicians on site using the web interface or APP.

Schmersal_B2B Purchase

Process protection for conveyor belts with online monitoring

In addition to the stated components and systems designed to boost machine safety and process protection, Schmersal can now offer a fully automated online monitoring system for existing or new conveyor systems through its system partner, ROXON. The HX270 enables real-time optical 3D belt surface sampling, both for the material side and running side of the conveyor belt.

With high-speed precision scanning using novel 3D image analysis algorithms, the system can automatically detect any change or damage to the belt surface 24 hours a day. In addition, optional belt thickness measurement gives the system a full-fledged condition-monitoring solution for smart maintenance and servicing.

The HX270 intelligent system automatically records existing belt damage and alerts the user if new damage is detected or if existing damage worsens enough to become critical. In this latter case, the conveyor belt is stopped automatically. The damage and wear data are stored in a database. Users can gain physical access with just a few clicks of the mouse and an automated conveyor belt control system so that they can inspect and repair the damage.


Conveyor systems are an essential tool for materials flows in the global bulky materials industry, whether in mining raw materials, gravel and cement plants, landfill or recycling sites, or the movement of seeds and animal feed. Just as varied as the range of applications is Schmersal’s range of systems and solutions for machine safety and process safety in the conveyance of bulky materials, optimally covering the entire field of condition monitoring. (ih).


01: Process safety is where conveyor belt operation starts and ends.

02 The EX-I-ZQ900 pull-wire emergency switch is used on conveyor systems in areas at risk of explosion, where there might be the need to trigger the emergency stop command at any point along the route of the wire.

03 The modular HDS switchgear platform, configured here as a belt misalignment switch for conveyor belts, 04 Schmersal offers either Dupline-Safe or Dupline as a field bus solution for networking switchgear devices over large distances. This helps to ensure an accurate diagnosis and safe shutdown.

Expertise shared by Heiko Bach, Business Development Manager-Heavy Industries, Schmersal Group.


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