The Lhoist Group is a world leading company that specializes in burnt and unburnt lime products. Headquartered in Belgium, the company is present in 25 countries with more than 100 subsidiaries around the globe. Rheinkalk is the German company of the Lhoist Group. Their Flandersbach plant in Wülfrath is the largest plant of the Lhoist group and at the same time the largest lime works in Europe. Around 7.5 million tonnes of limestone are mined here every year.
Lime is known for its use as a flux in steelmaking processes
. However, lime and limestone products are also an indispensable raw material in drinking water treatment
, in sewage treatment plants
, in construction
and agriculture as well as in flue gas cleaning. The quality demands placed on the these products have grown steadily over the years. For example, even the grain size specified by the customer must be strictly adhered to. At the same time, delivery periods are getting shorter and shorter. These factors, as well as many others, make it necessary to measure the material quantities much more accurately than ever before.
It all begins with the extraction of limestone from the quarry. The limestone rocks are transported in mining trucks to a processing plant. There they are pre-crushed, washed, pre-sorted according to size and distributed to various storage areas. From there, the prepared material is further refined or fed to the burning (calcining) process. With the help of rotary and shaft kilns, the raw rock product is converted into a lime product. At the end of the production process, the fired products stand ready for a wide variety of applications.
Numerous conveyor belts with different lengths ranging from a few metres to one kilometre ensure that the rocks, which can be in a wide variety of different processing states, are transported to the right place for further processing. The ambient conditions in the plant are extremely harsh. Operating at speeds of up to approx. 4 m/s, the belts transport rocks with diameters of 0 - 250 mm. The delivery rate can be up to 4000 t/h. Precise measurement of this mass flow is required to control the feed to the downstream systems. This is accomplished by mechanical belt scales (dynamic belt weighing systems) installed on the conveyor belts. However, these devices are susceptible to dirt and dust and have to be checked and cleaned every few weeks, which entails considerable maintenance costs and interruptions to production.