If you’re involved in industrial business, you almost definitely use some sort of conveyor system. Ever since mankind created the concept of automation, conveyors have saved businesses ludicrous sums of money (there have been no studies on this to date, but estimates are in the trillions). With such ubiquitous usage, you would be forgiven for assuming that businesses are used to conveyor best practices by now. However, thousands of businesses across the world don’t maintain their conveyors properly, which can lead to several serious and expensive issues.
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Tracking is essential with belt conveyors. It can be defined as how the conveyor manages to keep the belt on the right path (on track). As you might imagine, tracking problems can mean that belts slip off the track and can throw the entire production system off. In rare instances, it can be dangerous, but more often than not, it could just lead to material build-up or uneven wear and tear, which can cause breakages later down the line that require replacement.
Seized Up, Sharp Rollers
Conveyor belts are often fabricated from metal, commonly steel, for enhanced durability and lifespan. There is an issue with using such a hard material, however, which is that sometimes, the rollers can develop sharp edges when they seize up. This can be an additional hazard that can pose a risk to engineers and machinists, but there is also an impact on the materials being transported. If you’re working with high-value products, it can cause a lot of damage very quickly.
If you’re working with powders or loose, fine material (e.g., soils or un-pelletized animal feed), some of the material being used can seep through the conveyor. This material can clog up if not cleaned, which can cause issues with rollers like seizing up. There is also loss that you might not account for but can eat into your bottom line.
Blocking other materials
If you don’t maintain your conveyor properly, sharp edges can develop that can snag the material getting transported. This can lead to blockages if not resolved, which can impede your production workflow, damage your goods, or stop the entire system from functioning (depending on the size of the blockage). There are domino effects when one item gets blocked, as it can spread backward and impact (and possibly damage) machines further up the line. If you see any sharp edges or abnormal wear and tear, it’s crucial to address them as soon as possible because, more likely than not, they are signs of poor maintenance and can cost you money down the line.
In most circumstances, poor maintenance will require replacement belts. This can be expensive, and, according to Fluent Conveyors, there are a multiplicity of factors that go into choosing a conveyor belt replacement, including load type, type of product, belt movement requirements, and environment.
In some rare circumstances, poor maintenance consequences can be far more severe. It is sadly common for accidents to happen due to poor maintenance of conveyor belts. Only this year, a man was killed in Mississippi because a conveyor belt folded down unexpectedly (likely due to worn gearing), crushing the victim.
Look after your conveyor belt to avoid these issues.