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Conveyor belt systems have a natural life cycle. Over 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.
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.
Before installation, a conveyor belt must be squared to ensure stress payloads are even throughout the belt. In the biscuit manufacturing trade, cotton conveyor belting is used. 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 belts ends at multiple points evenly spaced between each before marking the centre 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 must be squared correctly to ensure that stress loads are equally distributed throughout. Unequally distributed loads will stress the belt unevenly, resulting in a reduced lifespan and an increased risk of downtime due to technical failures.
Once the belt has been squared, it must be placed with the correct tension to avoid slippage. Having the correct conveyor belt alignment is key. The belting must be centred 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 run 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 installs 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.
As briefly discussed, you must consider a few things 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 require further guidance on conveyor tracks to correct the 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, 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 biscuits and cracker production.
You should also consider contamination – remember, a belt conveyor’s material 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 natural 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 in which it is best to operate.
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. Calculating the coefficient of friction is a complex mathematical calculation using frictional force. To learn how to calculate friction, use this method.
The first thing you need to look at when performing a conveyor belt inspection is to check that the frame is level. A high percentage of conveyor belts that aren’t performing to maximum efficiency is usually down to incorrect tracking because the belt is out of kilter and not level.
The conveyor will lean to one side and slip if the bed isn’t square. To rectify this, it’s a simple case of using a balanced level to check the frame. It 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 levelled. 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 or any side. This will cause further tracking and alignment issues for the belt, making life much harder to maintain or readjust the conveyor system. Any good conveyor solution will come with idlers underneath the system. Adjusting the rollers will improve belt tracking.
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 analysis is undertaken per the above process to identify and adjust conveyor system tracking per your requirements.
Secondly, check if the belt has been worn. You can find this information due to your conveyor belt system inspection. If the tracking is incorrect and the alignment is incorrect, the chances the belt is wearing or worn are likely 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 heavy load may cause a tear. While quality conveyor systems should be more opposed to abrasion, circumstances may cause one nonetheless. Therefore, analyzing the belt for abrasions is important for conveyor belt maintenance.
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