Conveyor Belt Maintenance – Keeping Your Conveyor Belt Solution in Top Shape

Conveyor belt systems have a natural life-cycle. Over the course of time, wear and tear will contribute to the belt deteriorating. Depending on how well you maintain your belting solution will determine the length, in which, your belt remains at a ‘performance’ standard.

The average life-cycle of a conveyor belt is between two to twelve years based on your maintenance. Naturally, we wish to have our conveyor systems last as long as possible; this ensures optimum efficiency and return on investment from your conveyor solution.

In order to achieve a longstanding conveyor system, there are conveyor belt maintenance requirements that you must undertake to ensure your belt lasts as long as possible.

Installing Your Conveyor System

Before installation a conveyor belt must be squared to ensure stress payloads are even throughout the conveyor belt. In the biscuit manufacturing trade, cotton conveyor belting is used and there is less of a requirement for squaring based on weight loads as the transferring of dough pieces through a conveyor system is relatively light loading.

The recommended squaring method for belting ends is the ‘centreline’ method. The centreline method requires measuring across the belt width on both belt ends at multiple points that are evenly spaced between each, before marking  the center of each point. Finally, a chalk piece is used to draw the centreline from which the square cutting can be executed.

If this is not executed correctly, stress loads will be uneven, which can damage the conveyor belt and ultimately, reduce the life-cycle of the belt, while also ‘failing’ on multiple occasions.

A conveyor belt needs to be squared correctly to make sure stress loads are equally distributed throughout. Unequally distributed loads will stress the belt unevenly which can result in a reduced life-span and an increased risk of downtime as a result of technical failures.

Once the belt has been squared, it must be placed with the correct tension so as to avoid slippage. Having the correct conveyor belt alignment is key. The belting must be centered to avoid any potential problems that could cause further issues with the belt installation.

Naturally, a belt will have a little left-to-right sway. However, the belt tracking must be adjusted to accommodate a sway bias to one side and balance the belt tracking out again.

This will contribute to the belt running smoothly and without noise. Should the belting not be running smoothly or silently, you should review the conveyor tracking immediately.

You should also ensure the belt sits on the support system to avoid what is referred to as the ‘push effect’. This ensures the return path is at an optimal level.

Finally, you must ensure the drive and support rollers are set correctly, otherwise the belt will not run straight and will roll.

You achieve this by ensuring that your conveyor belt supplier takes care of installing the belt system drive, idle and support roller to fit the requirements of the conveyor belt. By taking this responsibility on yourself, you risk losing the straight run of your belting, which causes a shorter belt lifespan over time.

Checking and Adjusting Your Conveyor Belt Tracking is Correct

As briefly discussed there are a few things you must consider during the installation stage of the conveyor system to ensure that the belt is tracking correctly. Failure to execute these procedures will result in incorrect conveyor tracking and will require further guidance on conveyor tracking to correct the conveyor system.

To ensure you’re tracking is correct, you should measure the belt tension – this will usually show a 1% elongation. To measure belt elongation, you should mark the edges of your belt and tension the take-up adjustment until the marks you have made on the edges align with your required belt tension.

Something to check for when making sure the belt tracking is correct is to keep an eye out for any debris from production. Older or used conveyors will naturally have debris from constant use. This includes belts used in industries like biscuit and cracker production.

You should also consider contamination – remember the material of a belt conveyor can be susceptible to the elements. It is therefore important to understand the environmental conditions for which your conveyor belt will operate.

Your conveyor manufacturer will know the direct sciences behind the conditions for each conveyor belting material. During the scoping phase of your build, you should liaise with the conveyor belt manufacturer regarding the belt requirements and conditions for which it is best to operate in.

Finally, the coefficient of friction must be checked and corrected to ensure that the conveyor tracking is correct. The coefficient of friction varies depending on the conveyor belt material used. To calculate the coefficient of friction is a complex mathematical calculation, using frictional force. To learn how to calculate the friction, use this method.

Correct Way to Perform a Conveyor System Inspection

The first thing you need to look at when performing a conveyor belt inspection is check that the frame is level. A high percentage of conveyor belts that aren’t performing to maximum efficiency are usually down to incorrect tracking as a result of the belt being out of kilter and not level.

If the bed isn’t square, the conveyor will lean to one side and slip. To rectify this, it’s a simple case of using a balanced level to check the frame is straight or ‘square’ and the pulleys are level. To measure levelness, you should measure from one corner to the opposite corner on each side of the conveyor. if these do not equal, the belt is not level and should be leveled. The conveyor belts usually come with ‘squaring rods’ provided by the manufacturers. Squaring rods are used to pull the belt frame into the correct alignment.

Never track the conveyor solely from the steering end pulley, nor from any one side for that matter. This will cause further tracking and alignment issues for the belt; making life a lot harder to maintain or readjust the conveyor system. Any good conveyor solution will come with idlers that will sit underneath the system. Adjusting the rollers will improving belt tracking.

Performing Belt Failure Analysis

When performing a belt failure analysis in conveyor belt maintenance, there is no specific procedure as such to do so. However, there are analysis techniques that you can undertake through any process of your choice that constitutes being part of a belt failure analysis.

The first part of the of the analysis is undertaken as per the above process to identify and adjust conveyor system tracking as per your requirements.

Secondly, check if the belt has worn. You can find this information as a result of your conveyor belt system inspection. If the tracking is incorrect and the alignment is incorrect, then the chances the belt is wearing or worn are likely to be higher.

Thirdly, you must check for abrasions. A belt may catch on something, debris from other machinery or logistical operations within the factory may cause abrasion or a too heavy a load may cause a tear. While quality conveyor systems should be more averse to abrasion, circumstances may cause one nonetheless. Therefore, analyzing the belt for abrasions is an important facet for conveyor belt maintenance.

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What are the Environment Emission Board Regulations?

The Environmental Emission Board Regulations are a set of dust extraction and emission regulations, set out by a number of pollution control boards (for example, the Central Pollution Control Boards) and emission regulatory authorities that outlines the threshold from which any dust extraction and emission into the environment must be met.

As a result, the impact this has on businesses with large dust collection and filtration units requires them to reconsider how they filter and collect dust through their current dust collection systems.

These regulations are of particular interest for companies operating in, or working with companies operating in Indian territories, due to the new legislation outline by the emissions control governing body.

The key regulations for businesses to comply when dealing with dust emissions are:

  1. Manufacturing units should not emit dusts into the atmosphere above a certain threshold (this can be anything under 7.5mg per Nm3  or 10 mg per Nm3 depending on the location of the site any conservation site nearby, local cities etc.)
  2. Certain gases need to be contained or filtered before being thrown out. Gases such as SO2, SO3, HF — METALS (Cadmium, Hg, Arsenic, Chromium) etc.
  3. Limits on the total particle emitted based on type; such as ‘fine’ and ultra fine particles.
  4. Oil and Gas Industries particulates need to be captured at the time of emission, not after or post-production. This is due to their serious impact on the atmosphere.
  5. Boiler-based applications need dust collectors built in-situ and installed so that high temperature particles can be caught and addressed on site.

How these Emission Regulations Impact Development

The new regulations are extremely important, especially in locations such as India and central Asian countries. Recently, India has seen a rapid increase in property development across the country, including core cities such as Delhi, Goa and Mumbai, along with the other rural towns around the country.

This has led to an increase in the amount of dust created and emitted into the air across these areas, leading to the above stricter regulations being enforced to ensure control over the level of dust emission across the country.

This new direction is to create a more sustainable development and manufacturing approach across the country, forcing manufacturers and construction workers to think differently about how they operate.

Calculating PPM to M3 for Emissions

Seeing the acryonyms ‘Nm’ and ‘PPM’ might be somewhat unfamiliar to the untrained eye. But in dust emission terms, these terms are standard for understanding and calculating dust emission within the local air.

Mg of course stands for ‘milligram’ and is used to measure the amount of grams per liters. The calculation for this is 1Mg or 1L = 1 PPM.

Nm stands for ‘normal cubic meter’ and is used to measure the normal gas flow rate. The term ‘Normal’ refers to  the normal conditions of 0degC and 1 atmosphere at 101.325 kPa, however, for practicality in measurements, this is rounded to 1 bar.

PPM stands for ‘parts per million’. The conversion from mg/Nm3 to ppm is done as so (mg/Nm3) x (22.4/MW) = ppm where MW is the molecular weight of the gas.

Depending on the interpretation of the regulation, some may state that the total emission allowed is 10 mg/Nm3 (remember 10 Mg is to 10 PPM, so in a volume of 1 Nm3 the max emission allowed is 10 mg, it can be also treated as ppm). Other manufacturing units emitting dust will have a limit of 5 mg/Nm3 (5 Mg is 5 PPM), etc. This varies from country to country and place to place. However, in India, the threshold is very much 10Mg/Nm3 = 10 PPM . To better understand how you would need to calculate PPM, a thorough guide on the emission conversion measurement is your best place to start.

How the Emission Board Regulations Impacts Dust Extraction

Due to the fast increase in growth for industries operating in India that create and extract dust and other granular particles, opportunities have arisen to improve the current operations and technologies deployed.

Traditional methods of dust collection and filtration are being reconsidered and redesigned, with baghouses, filter bags, dust extractor units and filtration systems being redesigned during the process.

This has led to suppliers re-thinking how the media used, the types of materials best suited to filter media (such as filter bags, and press cloth), along with the maximum dust extraction and emission levels any of their manufacturing units produce.

Additionally, this has led filtration unit manufacturers that produce the dust extractor systems to work closer with their clients to gather the data from the factory’s output to better inform manufactures of the exact measurements the dust collector should ensure to meet the local emission criteria.

Changing Filter Media to Improve Emissions

For the manufacturers of units and filter media themselves, considerations around the casing tightness and suction has yielded innovative types of filter bags and cartridges to allow for cleaner air flow and more stringent dust collection without leakage.

Additionally, the dust collection bags are increasing their contact to surface areas which is allowing for higher collection and less room for missing any dust through the filter. Furthermore, the pressure of the bag collar on drawn edges are increased to allow for higher pressure across the system.

When considering filter cages, the life-cycle of the dust collection bag has been considered further. The fitting of the bag-to-cage is being re-designed to ensure that there is no pressure during removal and cleaning of the bag, resisting the increased wear and tear of traditional filter bag cages and filter bag operations. This activity has lead to the increase in reducing stress on the machinery, while also reducing power consumption and increasing efficiency.

From an internal process and innovation standpoint ClipOn’s activity to improve bag lifespan, filter performance and emission efficiency has resulted in the regular pulsating of the bags to ensure the captured dust is collected at the hopper, so it can be reused to have the dual purpose of emission and re-usability of raw materials, adhering to the recycling standards of the EU and Asian communities. This helps cost-to-production for industries in the cement and limestone industries.

Additionally, the installed a pre-filter with dust pre-separation now reduces the load on the main dust collector. This ensures not only a longer life span but also double protects the environment from emissions and pollutants.

How to Ensure You are Compliant with the EMB Regulations

To ensure as a business that you are compliant with your locations emission standards, you should research and understand your local emission regulations per your city, region and county.

Additionally, working closer with your dust extraction unit manufacturer will help you both to configure a system that is extremely efficient in the process of dust collection and filtration.

Better understanding of the type of solution you require, whether that be pleated filter bags or non-pleated filter bags to cartridge filters will yield the most efficient results in reducing your emission levels to maximum dust collection.

Furthermore, you should also consider 6-monthly to yearly reviews of your extraction system from your unit manufacturer to ensure the machinery is working to maximum efficiency. Naturally, you can do this using the collection data from your system and calculate the PPM to see if you’re exceeding your emission levels. This will allow you to act fast in rectifying any issues derived from the unit.