Belt conveyors are one of the most used pieces of equipment in a food processing plant, conveying everything from heavy product boxes to individual potato chips for frying. These versatile machines are relatively simple and, when purchased from a quality manufacturer, are pretty reliable.
No conveyor, though, is immune from problems. Belt slippage, motor burnout, and broken components all can occur from regular wear and tear or can happen when used incorrectly.
Keep Your Belt Conveyor in Good Shape
Keeping your belt conveyor running at optimal efficiency for years is possible by following the nine tips below:
Choose the right conveyor
The first place to start is to choose the right belt conveyor for your specific application. The weight of your product, the speed, and the direction you want to move the product, whether you need metal detection, weighing, or sorting, are all factors to be considered when investing in a belt conveyor.
Talking to the experts at a conveyor manufacturing company to determine what you need for your product and application. An added bonus: consider getting a conveyor that can handle more than what you need. It will allow you to increase production without wearing out the conveyor.
Keep your belt clean
Cleaning your conveyor belt is for more than just food safety. A dirty belt, especially on the underside, is more likely to slip, reducing the conveyor’s weight-carrying capacity. Similarly, build-up on the conveyor component parts, like belt rollers, can reduce both belt and motor life. Regularly cleaning the conveyor belt will help extend the life of your conveyor.
Consider investing in a conveyor equipped with easy-clean components, such as belt scrapers, belt lifters, CIP systems – all designed to regularly clean your conveyor belt without the time and energy of dismantling your belt.
Keep the motor clean
A motor covered with dust, dirt, grease, or food byproduct often causes the fan vents to be clogged and can cause the motor to overheat. An overheated motor will eventually burn out and need to be replaced. Make sure your sanitation team is regularly cleaning your conveyor motor to avoid overheating.
Check your bearings
Regularly inspect the bearings on your conveyor. Loose or dry bearings are a major cause of conveyor breakdown and should be lubricated on a regular basis during your normal maintenance procedures. You can also invest in self-aligning sealed bearings that require little to no lubrication.
If you do have a bearing that requires lubrication, make sure to clean off any lubricant that came in contact with your belt. Some lubricants can damage your conveyor belt if left on too long.
Check your pulley alignment and wear
Pulley alignment plays a huge role in keeping your belt conveyor running correctly. A properly aligned pulley creates equal belt tensioning on either side of the belt’s cross-section – which is needed to extend the life of your belt. When the pulley is out of alignment or is worn unevenly, the belt tensioning won’t be equal and you will start to see premature stretching on one side, causing you to need a new belt sooner.
Where you load your product on the conveyor can cause the belt to stretch as well. Consistently loading products on one side of the belt can wear that side of the belt out quicker. The product should always be loaded toward the center of the belt whenever possible.
Check for belt slippage
Improper belt tensioning (like mentioned above) or loading product that is too heavy onto the conveyor belt can cause belt slippage and reduce the life of your conveyor. Regularly inspecting your conveyor for belt slippage, and tightening up the belt tensioning can eliminate these issues and extend the life of your conveyor.
If you’re loading too much product or too heavy of product onto the conveyor than it can handle, it’s time to invest in a new conveyor. Overloading a conveyor beyond what it’s rated to handle will eventually cause belt, bearing, and motor failure, and cause your processing operation to come to a stand-still.
Make sure the motor and drive are the right sizes
When investing in a new conveyor, or moving an existing conveyor to a new section of your facility, always make sure the motor and drive are the right sizes to handle the product you’ll be moving. Loading the product onto a conveyor that isn’t rated to handle the weight will lead to motor and drive failure.
Make sure you know the weight of the product you’ll be conveying before purchasing a conveyor, and invest in a conveyor that can handle more weight than you need. This will allow you to eventually grow your product output without the need to invest in a new conveyor.
Inspect for and replace worn parts
Worn parts are one of the leading causes of conveyor breakdown, and can lead to extended downtime when waiting for replacement parts to arrive. Regularly inspecting your conveyor for worn parts and replacing them in a timely fashion will reduce your risk of conveyor downtime.
It may be beneficial to talk to the conveyor manufacturer and find out which parts are more likely to wear out and stock replacement parts right from the start. This will reduce your downtime if the worn part breaks, as you will already have the part on hand.
Implement preventative maintenance
The best way to keep your belt conveyor running efficiently: preventative maintenance. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for scheduling preventative maintenance, inspect all components, replace any that show wear, upgrade components such as wires and cables to higher quality replacements. These simple tasks will extend the life of your belt conveyor and avoid costly breakdowns. It is to your benefit to keep a log for each belt conveyor to be certain that preventative maintenance practices are being followed.
A simple, easy way to keep track of your preventative maintenance practices is to implement Snaptivation into your plant. With an extremely low setup fee and low monthly payments, Snaptivation puts the power of asset management and preventative maintenance tracking into the palm of every employee. Learn more about this cost-effective tool.
Extending Conveyor Life
These ten tips will help you extend the life of your belt conveyor and keep it running efficiently for years to come. When investing in a new conveyor, or moving an existing conveyor to a new section of your facility, always check with the manufacturer to make sure the conveyor is rated to handle your product and follow their maintenance and upkeep suggestions. Doing so will keep your belt conveyor in top running performance.