Extend Conveyor Idler Life

Even in Extreme Operating Conditions

When choosing conveyor idlers for extended life in the toughest applications, producers typically look at load ratings, belt weight, material weight and drop height, bearing and shaft size, and much more. “But what’s often ignored is bearing seal design,” says Paul Schmidgall, Chief Engineer of Conveyor Components for Superior Industries.

“Consider that idler bearings may fail due to load, or due to premature fugitive material contamination, or due to a combination of both. That’s why seal design is so important – and it’s a game-changer when operations can target specific seals to specific applications – either extremely abrasive, wet, or dry applications; or long-distance overland conveying,” says Schmidgall.

For nearly a decade, Superior has rigorously tested dozens and dozens of seal design iterations, he says, and the result is a new series of application-specific, field-proven seal technologies that extend idler life even in the most extreme operating conditions.

Titanium Tough

Designed for challenging wet, slurry applications, Superior’s next-generation SpinGuard® Titanium™ Seals are installed at the APAC/Arkhola Sand & Gravel Plant in Muskogee, Oklahoma. It’s a dredging operation that’s tough on idlers, especially those on its three mainline conveyor belts coming out of the pit.

“When Superior initially developed its new Titanium Seals, they were tested at this plant, and after a six-month period, the operation switched to the new idler seals going forward,” says Wayne Cooper, sales engineer with GW Van Keppel Company, a regional conveyor parts distributor for Superior Industries.

“In this abrasive sand dredging application, the standard idler seal is not the optimal choice,” he says.

Cooper works closely with the maintenance team at the plant, helping them properly inventory critical wear parts. “I’m a problem-solver, and I help plants find ways to increase efficiency,” he says. “Their previous idlers were wearing too quickly, with excessive wear to both the seals and cans. The titanium seal has given them the longevity they need within the wet, high-impact areas of the plant,” says Cooper.

Located near the Arkansas River, Arkhola Sand & Gravel produces up to 4,000 tons per day. “The dredge itself is capable of higher tonnage, so it’s important to do everything we can to de-bottleneck the plant and become more efficient,” says Plant Manager James Brewer. He explains that they pump from the dredge into the water wheel. “When more water goes into the wheel than sand, some of that water ends up on the belt, and that just eats away at those idler rollers. The constant rubbing acts like sandpaper on the metal. Material can get into the bearings pretty easily – but with the titanium rollers, we no longer have that issue,” says Brewer.

The three belts coming from the pit add up to a half-mile of conveyor combined. Since testing the titanium idler seals at various impact points, the operation has replaced the entire system with the new seals.

“It’s a great value, especially since the price of the titanium seal really isn’t that much more than what we paid for standard idlers,” says Brewer. “I get twice the wear life over the standard idlers, and we rarely replace an idler for bearing failure anymore. It’s one of the better moves I’ve made at this plant,” he adds.

Project Details

APAC/Arkhola Sand & Gravel
Arcosa Aggregates

Muskogee, Oklahoma
Houston, Texas

Aggregates: Sand & Gravel

Application Specific Idler Seals


For nearly a decade, Superior has tested dozens and dozens of seal design iterations resulting in a new series of application-specific, field-proven bearing seal technologies that extends idler life.

These next-generation Application-Specific Bearing Seals are installed in several idlers at plants owned by two well-known aggregate producers.

Both sites are earning extended service life from their rolls and eliminating one of their most common production bottlenecks.

Superior’s chief engineer of conveyor components describes each seal design and covers the development testing process.

Major Wear Life Increase

At the Rye Pit, an Arcosa Aggregates site located northeast of Houston, Texas, the facility operates a 500-foot-long transfer conveyor for concrete sand. “At an impact point on the belt, where excess water is being relieved, we were experiencing premature roller failure due to materials getting into the bearings,” says John Worrell, an industry veteran and plant manager for two Arcosa sites.

“We had been using standard CEMA C idlers on that section of the belt and getting only up to three months of life out of them – before having to shut everything down, change out the roller, and crank it back up,” he adds.

Worrell turned to his local Superior Industries distributor GW Van Keppel, and its sales engineer Dave Bolerjack for solutions. “His team came right out to us and took a close look at our application. With their recommendation, we installed the new titanium seals at that wet point on the belt, and we haven’t had a bearing failure since,” says Worrell, who adds that he relies upon his local distributor “for just about everything we need in the process.”

Worrell says that they started with just one new Titanium Seal roll, and gradually added additional ones as it came time to change out a roll. “The most important issue is life expectancy. I’m forecasting at least a year of operation for the new rolls, which would be four times the wear life we got from standard idlers. The Titanium Seals give us both bearing and belt protection. Paying a little more for them is well worth it,” he says.

Targeted Technology

SpinGuard Seal Technology is engineered with improved contact seals that result in less seal drag; triple labyrinth seals that increase the distance contaminants must travel; and grease fills that easily trap contaminants.

Including the Titanium Seal, Superior offers four application-specific conveyor idler seals.
The SpinGuard Wet Seal is targeted toward applications that experience excessive idler wear due to high moisture, frequent washdowns, and dredging.
The SpinGuard Dry Seal is ideal for operations that produce dust near crushing or screening equipment.
The SpinGuard EcoSeal is an eco-friendly solution that addresses horsepower concerns in overland and long-distance conveying.

Seeking innovative, targeted conveyor component solutions leads to greater plant availability, and reduced maintenance costs and downtime. Every step in forward-thinking efficiency counts

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