Keeping Conveyor Belts on Track
When you are in a place where you want to think about moving goods from one place to another in your facility, you’ll discover that getting a conveyor system is one of the best options open to you. They are reliable, they are straightforward, and once you get them installed, you’ll find that they can run quite smoothly with a minimum amount of basic maintenance. But, you will need to remember – if you want to make sure that your conveyor belts continue operating for years – that you are going to need to pay some special attention to your conveyor belts tracking or alignment at the time of installation.
Basics to achieve an effective Conveyor Belt Alignment
Let’s talk about alignment and what it takes for conveyor belts to be properly aligned. To be properly aligned, conveyor belts consistently need to have their edges within the width of the pulley face and within the confines of any other rolling elements, like the return rolls and the idlers. This should be tested while the belt is under a full load condition. To complete this task, the components need to be set at ninety degree angles to a common centerline and perfectly level across the width of the belt.
There are some things that will affect the alignment and acuity of your conveyor systems. Though this sounds like an extensive list for your conveyor systems, you’ll discover that it is fairly easy to understand. These things include:
- The amount of power and tension that is run through the belts by drives, rolling elements and take-up systems.
- The centering of the load at the point of dumping the material onto the conveyor belts.
- The accuracy of the alignment of each rolling component to the belts.
- The construction of, deformities in the belts as well as its type and how long it is has been in operation.
- Accumulation of dirt and water on the backside of the belt.
‘Power and Tension’ Factor
Consider the place of power and tension and as to how they affect the efficiency of your conveyor belts. For instance, if you have a belt that is under too much tension, you’ll discover that this will put extensive unnecessary wear on your rolling elements. This can result in premature failure of splices, the belts edges curling up or cupping and in a surprisingly short amount of time, you’ll find that you need to realign your belt yet again. When you have a belt that is too loose, it will be significantly more prone to slippage and sagging between the idlers. Not only does this make for less than optimal performance, you’ll find that there are going to be some severe issues when you got to start it up and also, reduces your ability to get the most work out of the horsepower that is going in.
As a simple rule-of-thumb, the tension on the conveyor belt should be just enough so that the belt never slips with a full load, but not much more.
‘Backside of the Belt’ Factor
When you think about your conveyor system, you might first think of the rolling elements and the top of the conveyor belt, but also be aware that the backside of the belt is important too. This part will provide the friction that transfers the drives’ torque to the belts and essentially, it is the part that creates the rolling action of the idlers and the tail pulley. The backside of the belt is hard to see, and the problem is that too many people simply think ‘out of sight, out of mind’. The truth is that unless you pay attention to the backside of the belts and the condition that it is in, you are certainly going to see the delays and disasters that come with belt slippage. Take some time and make sure that you check the backside for dirt and water by installing the requisite belt cleaning supplies. These are very straightforward and will do the job well.
Diagnosis & Remedy
The belt should initially be run empty and aligned. If the belt runs off at the pulleys, there is typically an alignment problem with the rolling components. In cases of intermittent misalignment, the problem may be with the belt or the belt splice. Intermittent misalignment can best be isolated by marking the belt where it runs-out and marking the belt at the point it runs back in. If the area of run-out moves with the belt, as it moves through the system, the problem is probably in the belt. In this case, replace deformed belt with fresh belting or if a splice is in this area, replace the splice, for it may be the off-square splice that is causing this problem. If the area of misalignment tends to remain in the same area and does not move through the system with the belt, then the problem is likely to be with the rolling components directly in front of the misaligned area. It is likely that there are rolling components that are out of square or are stuck that need to be replaced. After the belt is successfully aligned and running unloaded, it can be loaded and rechecked for alignment.It is also possible that an alignment problem can result from improper tension on the belt or from dirt or water on the backside of the belt.
‘Effective tracking of conveyor belts’ is one of the most important things to consider when you are ready to take on installing your conveyor belts, so don’t rush and take some time to ensure that everything’s done to a tee.