When it comes to manufacturing projects, it’s important to make sure that all tools and equipment are properly maintained.
The conveyor belt is often a crucial part of such projects. It’s used to convey thousands, if not, millions of product boxes, food or raw materials. If the belt breaks down, it can halt an entire operation. A breakdown like this can comprise worker safety and cost a business significant amounts of money.
As a result, it’s important to take the proper steps in maintaining your conveyor belt. Although the belt’s function is simple, the mechanism that makes it work can be complicated. You have to be familiar with bearings, motor control speed and variable frequency drives (VFD).
But don’t worry, we’ll let you know what to look out for. Here are five tips to help you maintain your conveyor belt.
1. Routine Maintenance Check
As with all manufacturing equipment, it’s essential to do a routine maintenance check. With the conveyor belt, this includes checking belt tension, possible contamination and excess wear.
The two main features to check are the bearings and the pulley. The bearings attach to the ends of the belt roller to ensure a smooth linear motion. It’s important to keep these bearings lubricated as dry bearings will create excess friction. The heat that comes from this friction can damage your belt as well as the products being conveyed.
The pulley, on the other hand, is responsible for maintaining equal tension on both ends of the belt. If one pulley is out of alignment, the belt can suffer from uneven wear or premature stretching.
Doing regular checks will allow you to fix an issue before it becomes more serious. Although it might feel like a hassle, taking the time to do this will reduce the risk of major breakdowns and delays in the future. Additionally, it can also increase the lifespan of your conveyor belt.
If possible, see if you can talk to the manufacturer for the belt. Ask them what parts are more likely to break down first.
2. Look Out for Common Problems
Common conveyor problems include belt mistracking, slipping and blockages. The consequences of these issues can be negligible to begin with. However, if you ignore it long enough, it can lead to major breakdowns in production.
Belt tracking is responsible for aligning the conveyor towards the right path. Even a slight misalignment in tracking can throw off the entire operation. If not, it can lead to uneven wear on the belt over time. If you want a smooth output, always be on the lookout for mistracking. There are a few common causes of mistracked belts. This includes crooked conveyor frames, misaligned snub rollers, improper belt cutting and dirt/contaminant build-ups.
Slipping occurs when the balance of tension gets disrupted. Belt slippage is often accompanied by stretching, uneven wear and loud squealing noises. The common causes are cold conditions, poor installation and faulty pulleys.
Finally, blockages. If one product gets stuck on the conveyor line, it will cause a messy build-up of products behind it. To reduce the risk of this happening, check your line for sharp corners, turns or surfaces that might catch the passing products.
3. Scheduled Preventative Maintenance
As the old saying goes, prevention is better than cure. When you can, try and schedule time for maintenance work. This goes beyond just a routine maintenance check as you often have to shut down the entire operation to conduct it.
The belt manufacturer should be able to provide you with a maintenance schedule. This will instruct you on the components you should be inspecting. This includes wires and cables that need to be repaired or replaced If necessary, upgrade any part that is not performing at a satisfactory level.
Regularly performing preventative maintenance will improve the longevity of your conveyor belt. Although the upgrades and repairs will cost you some money, it’s worth knowing that you have reduced the risk of having an unplanned shutdown in the future.
If you want to, you can also implement asset management and maintenance tracking systems to your project as well.
4. Motor Maintenance
Choose the size and type of your motor based on the product that you’re conveying. If you’re processing heavy products and your motor can’t handle it, you can cause damage to the motor as well as the drive.
Once you have the right motor, you need to make sure that it stays clean at all times. A build-up of debris, dust and grease can clog fan vents, causing the motor to overheat. If a motor continues to run under these conditions, it can burn out and break down. This can create a domino effect and cause damage across your entire operation.
Regular sanitation and cleaning of your motor will prevent overheating and improve its longevity.
5. Servicing the VFD/VSD
The VFD is the drive that controls the speed of the motor. If your drive is malfunctioning, you won’t be able to get the speed or output that your production requires.
VFD maintenance is simple but important. First, make sure that it’s clean. If too much dust build-ups on the hardware, it can block the airflow and cause it to overheat. Also, dust is able to absorb moisture. If this makes contact with the electronic parts inside the drive, it can cause a lot of damage. This issue is more prevalent in food plants where there’s a considerable amount of oil and water particles in the air.
On that note, you should be careful of putting your VFD in a moist environment. Too much exposure to moisture can cause corrosion on the drive’s circuit board.
Lastly, make sure that the connections in the drive are strong. Constant vibrations and environmental factors can easily disrupt wiring connections. If this happens, it might cause the motor and consequently the belt to fluctuate between speeds. This can cause damage to the equipment and the products. Additionally, it can cause serious injury to workers.
These little maintenance jobs can feel like a thorn on your side. However, in the long run, it could save you a lot of time and money. So, to ensure the success of your manufacturing project, consider the points we’ve listed above and implement them in your maintenance routine.