When the question of which equipment may be better than another arises, the answer is often, “it depends.”
With Apron Feeders and Belt Feeders, the question is often which one is better? The answer remains the same, both have their strengths and weaknesses depending on the application. To clear up the question, we will discuss what Belt and Apron feeders are as well as explain where they are used, and why one may be better than the other depending on the application.
What are they?
Feeders are typically found at the base of the hopper in many crushers and screens, their job is to transport the material at a controlled rate of speed from the hopper onto the screen, crusher or feed conveyor.
The apron feeder is built from undercarriage chains, rollers and tailwheels, similar to the kind of tracks you would find on a bulldozer. Two of these undercarriage systems are placed side by side and are joined together by heavy-duty grouser bars. The links are sealed to prevent aggregate from penetrating and wearing out the system. Due to this structure, apron feeders have a much more heavy-duty nature and can handle rocks up to 600mm+.
Belt feeders are feeders that use a single endless hardened rubber belt, a drive drum, an idle drum, and more rollers. The nature of this system allows transportation of material typically smaller than 300mm over longer distances at higher speeds. However, belt feeders wear a lot faster, and will not take big hits that apron feeders can, and are suited to applications that may have a lot more liquid runoff.
When stacking belts and apron feeders against each other, the differences are distinctive.
- Built from hardened steel
- Not prone to slips
- Can take heavy loads (rocks up to 600mm)
- Can take impacts
- Can handle many different types of materials
- Better for bark and mulch applications
- Wear takes a lot longer
- More upfront investment
- Can be worn out by very wet fine material
- Can have some leakage of fines
- Good for small material wet or dry
- Better suited to smaller materials (max size 300 mm)
- Moves faster
- Less upfront investment
- Can require more maintenance
- Cannot tear with sharp material
- Cannot drop material on to belt as it may cause damage
- Possibility for material to slip on the belt
It is important to remember that in saying they have different uses for different things some companies will use both types in different machines. Keestrack which is a high-end machine producer uses apron feeders in machines all their heavy-duty scalping screens which can be used in a primary application whereas they would use a belt feeder in an H4e which is often a secondary or tertiary crusher
The distinction between belt and apron feeders should now be clear leaving little to be discussed other than specific application and actual use.
Apron feeders are the best suited to primary applications. Wherever there is likely to be big heavy material with sharp edges that may be dropped from a height, apron feeders will always be the better choice in this situation. This is also applicable to uses such as bark, mulch, or recycling that are prone to slip on top of a belt. They will last much longer and need servicing much less, however, they come with an extra cost. Apron fed machines often cost about $20,000 more than their belt fed counterparts.
Belt feeders on the other hand are much better for secondary applications where smaller aggregates that will not be dropped from height are to be considered. They can move material over longer distances much more efficiently however come with the added cost of servicing regularly and are much more prone to damage.
Rounding it all up
At the end of the day, the decision between the two lies in the specific application and what the needs of your quarry are. Keestrack, Portafill, MWS, and Edge all use feeders specific to the job they will be doing. When comparing machinery, if 2 machines have to do the same job, you must be aware that different components like feeders can and will contribute to ROI, therefore making the right decision relative to the application is quite important.