The best ever!” was the opinion of delegates and speakers alike in describing the Beltcon 17 Conference held in Johannesburg in August 2013 (Fig. 1). Throughout the long history of the International Materials Handling Conferences, held every two years and now in the 34th year, the organisation, the professionalism and the standard of technical papers has risen steadily. Many speakers regard Beltcon as a highlight in the international conference circuit, and delegates are quick to register (Fig. 2).
Lou Killian (Exxaro) delivered the keynote address, followed by diverse topics pertinent to the conveying and materials handling industry: quality control procedures for conveyor belt installations (Katlego Makgata, DRA, RSA); belt transitions analysis by finite element analysis and field measurements on overland conveyors (David Kruse, AC-Tek, USA); belt de-tensioning in dips, and flywheels on belt conveyors (Gabriel Lodewijks, University of Technology, Delft); non-gravity take-up technology (Alan Exton, Accrete, RSA); common conveyor drive failures, and variable speed drive use (Lorinda Lakay, Joy Global, RSA); minimum pulley diameters, and calculation of correct radii for vertical curves in troughed belt conveyors (Dave Pitcher, Fenner, RSA); idler configurations (Ben-Piet Terblanche, Veyance, RSA); debottlenecking conveyor systems (John Elkink, Hatch Asociados, Peru); bulk solid and conveyor belt interactions (Daniel Ausling, TUNRA, University of Newcastle, Australia); vulcanisation for splicing steel cord conveyor belts using a new heating method (Lennart Schulz, Leibniz Universität, Hannover); in-pit crushing and conveying (Andreas Oberrauner, Sandvik, Germany); haulage systems for underground gateroad development (David Hastie, University of Wolongong, Australia); predicting the indentation rolling resistance of conveyor belts (Paul Munzenberger, TUNRA, University of Newcastle, Australia). The programme, authors, paper synopses and general details of Beltcon 17 can be accessed on the Beltcon web site: www.beltcon.org.za.
The exhibition, running in conjunction with the conference, is also a major draw card, affording an opportunity for providers of services and equipment to showcase their products to a targeted audience, and to network with potential clients and buyers in a relaxed environment. The next Beltcon Conference, Beltcon 18, will be held mid-year in Johannesburg in 2015.