Conveyor belts and pulley systems play a key role in just about every industry you can imagine – from bulk handling in manufacturing plants to moving products at your local grocery store. As intelligent and reliable as these systems are, they do experience issues that can cost companies thousands of dollars in lost operations and productivity.
It’s important to be aware of the most common conveyor belt challenges when designing or improving a system. This article covers some of these issues along with ways you can prevent them with the right conveyor belt system accessories.
By far, the most common challenge of a conveyor system is belt damage – and understandably so. Conveyor belts handle a lot each day, especially for industries that handle bulk items, chemical products, and abrasive materials. Belt damage is expected over time, but if there is premature wear and tear, it could be a sign of a deeper issue.
First, we want to make sure that the belt material is appropriate for the type of material you’re moving. For example, roller conveyor belts are ideal for moving large and heavy cartons over long distances while mesh belts are typically used in the food industry.
Next, we want to take a look at the weight of the material being moved. If the impact zone is not designed to handle heavy materials, the belt becomes stretched and leads to premature wear and tear. To prevent this, impact beds are installed under the belt and the impact zones which absorb and transfer the forces from falling material. Impact beds protect the belt and help lengthen the life of the whole conveyor system.
Belt slippage usually happens around the head pulley. When the conveyor belt and pulley don’t have a strong grip, the pulley is unable to turn the belt around itself and ‘slips’ off. There are a few different reasons why belt slippage occurs:
- Worn lagging on the head drive pulley
- Damaged wing or tail pulley
- Material overload
- The wrong belt material for the job
Again, be sure you’re using the right belt material for the job and that it can handle the weight of the material you’re moving. Service and replace any damaged lagging, wing, and tail pulley.
Material left on the belt
Also called material carryback, any material that is left on the belt after discharge can cause blockages and wear the belt down faster. The amount of carryback depends on the material’s characteristics and susceptibility to sticking. Material can get into the conveyor’s undercarriage, which can cause the system to seize and lead to significant downtime.
All conveyor systems experience some material carryback, but the goal is to keep it to a minimum to protect the belt and other conveyor parts. We can do this by installing belt cleaners on either the head or tail of the pulley, or both. Belt cleaners help dislodge material and minimize the amount of material carryback on the belt.
Damaged or seized idlers
Belt damage is a root cause of many conveyor belt challenges. Wear and tear on the belt affects other components, including the idlers. Damaged or seized conveyor idlers are often a result of excess material on the belt, blockages, and tension.
To protect conveyor idlers from damage, Luff Industries has engineered and created a patented high-strength and impact-resistant polymer endcap. These endcaps surround a maintenance-free bearing to protect from dust and moisture contamination.
Furthermore, a polymer disc called the Safety Anti-Lock Shield is designed to sit inside the endcap. This disc remains stationary as the roller rotates around, preventing them from seizing due to excess materials, one of the main causes of conveyor belt damage.
Simple yet effective conveyor belt accessories can help protect the entire conveyor system. As a leading name in conveyor belt parts and accessories in Canada and the USA, Luff Industries helps increase the performance and efficiency of conveyor systems in virtually every industry. If your system is experiencing excessive or premature damage, connect with us and we can help you find a solution.