Conducting conveyor system maintenance

There are many reasons for conveyor failure, but regular inspection and planned preventative maintenance is far more efficient and less costly than repair downtime. And it should be noted that conveyor belt maintenance includes both proper care of the belt and maintenance of the hardware, which includes idlers, pulleys, belt cleaners, etc.

Often, it is not a lack of maintenance that leads to failure. Belt speeds and feed configurations or even feed material may have been changed to meet new production requirements. What may seem like a simple adjustment to meet demand can cause ongoing problems for the conveyor by affecting the belt tension and the counterweight or the take up arrangement may not apply to the new belt speed or capacity. This, in turn, can reduce the life of the belt, componentry and be the route cause of material spillage.

A very common conveyor problem is belt alignment or tracking. To understand this problem, it is necessary to know exactly what alignment is. A belt is considered to be aligned when the edges of the belt remain within the width of the pulley faces and within the confines of all the rolling components (idlers, return pulleys, etc) while the conveyor is under full load. To achieve this, all the components must be square relative to one another. Likewise, the belt material must be free from defects, squarely spliced and correctly tensioned.
The conveyor transfer points also require careful attention. Loading of the conveyor centrally is essential in maintaining proper tracking, as it is almost impossible to achieve and maintain proper tracking if the loading is off centre.

One must also consider the consequences of impact at the transfer points. Correctly designed and installed support systems aid the proper tracking of the belt and can improve material containment which will help reduce maintenance requirements.

Cleanliness of the conveyor should not be confined to the transfer points. Maintaining a clean conveyor belt and hardware cannot be emphasised enough. For example, a conveyor with ?carryback? unchecked could create far more serious problems, which will require constant attention to contain material spillage and conveyor asset damage.

It is recommended that belt scrapers and ploughs be used and careful attention paid to the correct positioning and adjustment of these during maintenance inspections.

As with any continually operating machinery, a supply of spare parts minimises downtime and reduces the breakdown and maintenance costs. In today?s cost-conscious world, ?having a few spares in stock? is not an acceptable approach.

When it comes to spare parts, companies that rely heavily on their conveyor systems should be mindful of the following points:
? Check the maintenance history for an acceptable minimum level of commonly used parts.
? Ensure that spare parts are stored correctly and safely and are in good condition.
? Consider ?component standardisation?. Standardising on components for all conveyors reduces inventory requirements and downtime and can lead to significant savings in spare parts. It also eliminates the requirement for ?specialist knowledge? of a particular conveyor system.
With more than 60 years? cumulative experience in the industry, Kinder and Co know what to look for when carrying out preventative maintenance inspections.

Source: Kinder & Co,

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