Belt conveyors are commonly used in a multitude of industries to transport material from one location to another. Belt conveyors can be configured in many ways, from a single run which might form a stockpile, to many interconnected belt conveyors, necessitating the use of transfers to successfully deliver material through the system. Whichever method applies, the way in which material leaves the head of a conveyor will dictate the path the flow of material takes to the next step in the process. Many installations run successfully with systems that have been in operation for many years, however not all have been ‘engineered’, instead relying on a rule-of-thumb approach by experienced and long serving staff.
The research presented in this paper focuses on the material trajectory as it leaves the head pulley of a belt conveyor, from: an experimental perspective; predictions made by applying a variety of numerical trajectory models; and the use of the discrete element method (DEM). Comparisons will be made between these three methods to establish whether the numerical models or the DEM simulations can successfully predict the experimental particle trajectories.