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Mining People Magazine

length. To keep the material from sliding back on the conveyor

belt, they laid a second belt on top, with rubber tires every so

often to apply a little pressure.

After that, cover belts – and variations like chain mats – became

a thing, Dos Santos says – but ultimately none of the ideas that

were tried in that era became commercially viable, so eventually

it faded away despite the development of a mathematical model

that could be used to calculate the required hugging pressure.

That model, however, is what he would later build upon.

Another step forward was made in the 1970s, when conveyor

manufacturer Stephens-Adamson developed a loop conveyor,

which used radial pressure – the same kind of pressure created

by the belt that holds up your pants – to unload material from

ships with a belt configured in a C-shaped curve. The loop belt

demonstrated very high throughput rates with belts up to 3

meters wide.

Dos Santos came into the industry in the late 1970s, when

after earning his master’s degree in civil structural engineering

at Cornell University he went to work for Dravo Corporation

in Pittsburgh. There he was

assigned to study the feasibility

of high-angle conveyors for open

pit mines and how they might


“When we got into that study,

none of us envisioned a sandwich

conveyor,” he says. “It was not

first considered as a solution, but

as I got deeply into it, I determined

it was.” During this time he

published an article rationalizing

sandwich belt technology and

describing two possibilities: the snake

sandwich conveyor and the mechanically

pressed sandwich conveyor.

Ultimately, Dravo decided not to develop

the concept further. At the same time,

Continental Conveyor was following his

work and offered him the opportunity to

develop the technology to reality. So he

went to work for Continental Conveyor

in Winfield, Alabama, in 1982. There he

continued his efforts on the mechanically

pressed sandwich conveyor, which

became the Continental HAC (high angle

conveyor); many units were sold.

“The units are in all kinds of industries: pulp

and paper, grain, mining, quarrying, petrochemical handling,

coke, coal – all kinds of materials,” Dos Santos says. “We also

got into the tunneling industry, basically taking the tunnel muck

From the cover belts of the 1950s where

materials were being sandwiched between two

belts, it was a start, but an imperfect idea that

needed detailed development.

To the loops belts of the 70s, where the first use of radial pressure due

to tension advanced the technology, it failed to provide a direct path

from a loading point A to discharge general discharge point B, along a

straight incline.

(right) Joe Dos Santos and

Marcus Dos Santos. Marc was

very involved at the founding

while still in high school and

remained involved throughout

his time in College at MIT.

The partnership was actually

formed two years later when

Marc joined DSI permanently.

Dos Santos continued

(left) Joe Dos Santos,

President & Founder; Amy

Duncan, Marketing Manger;

and Marc Dos Santos, Vice