Conveyor systems have now been in operation in one form or another for well over a century. The ability of these systems to automate and optimize a variety of industrial practices has made them indispensable to manufacturers across the globe. The power that they offer, however, comes with the responsibility of making sure that they stay in proper working order. Though it’s important to do so in order to avoid downtime and repairs, the task is made much more important when you consider that allowing your conveyor system to fall into disrepair puts both you and your employees at risk. Thankfully, conveyor maintenance need not be a hassle. By following the below tips, you can seamlessly integrate system upkeep into your company’s daily operations and avoid costly, dangerous, time-consuming breakdowns.
General Tips for Conveyor Maintenance
Though we’ll be going over specific maintenance procedures in a moment, there are a few general things to keep in mind when considering your company’s upkeep capabilities. These rules of thumb will increase the level of preparedness of your maintenance operations, which in turn will make those operations much simpler and quicker for everyone involved.
- Have a maintenance technician on staff. By making upkeep and repairs the primary responsibility of a single employee (or a small group, if your company can afford it), you’ll sidestep the confusion and finger pointing that inevitably follows a breakdown; there won’t be any question as to who needs to be called to address the issue. If hiring a dedicated technician isn’t possible, consider cross-training an interested employee in conveyor maintenance for your system. Doing so will save your company money and allow that employee a chance to grow their skills and advance within the organization.
- Keep spare conveyer parts on hand. Though this might seem like a no-brainer, it’s far too easy to let items disappear from your inventory and tell yourself that you’ll get around to ordering them “eventually.” As anyone who’s experienced a major conveyer system breakdown can tell you, not having one tiny, seemingly insignificant part on hand can hamstring your operations for days while you track down a supplier and get it delivered. If it is not possible to keep all parts associated with your system on hand, try at least to hold those critical to your conveyor system and those that have a long lead time.
- Document, document, document. Poor communication is one of the biggest causes of mechanical breakdowns in any industry. A conveyer system that you thought was running perfectly may, in fact, be a few days away from breaking down because your technician forgot to note that it was in need of critical maintenance or repairs. Every bit of work that is done on your system must be documented and filed for easy retrieval. Your technicians may grumble at this, but it’s not their investment that’ll be put at risk if you let them slack off in their documentation.
Conveyor Maintenance Schedule
This list is not, by any means, meant to be exhaustive; this a general set of tasks applicable to most conveyer systems. For a maintenance schedule tailored to your specific conveyer system, consult your owner’s manual or get in touch with the supplier.
Daily Conveyor Maintenance
- Check operation of controls. All limit switches and all buttons concerning the functions of the system (particularly the emergency stop) should be in perfect working order.
- Check the belt for any accumulation of dust or dirt and remove any found.
- Check that the belt is tracking properly. Do not run a system with an off-line belt.
Weekly Conveyor Maintenance
- Examine controls and wiring. Electrical issues are a major cause of downtime, and many can be avoided if frayed wires or failing parts are detected ahead of time.
- Examine motor and producer. Check to see if the housings have suffered any damage, and inspect the gear case for any sign of lubricant leakage.
Monthly Conveyor Maintenance
- Examine pulleys and bearings. Run the conveyor and listen for any unusual noises coming from these parts. This process can be expedited by using a metal rod to transmit sound to your ear, which will make it easier to detect any abnormal sounds. As part of this process, be sure to tighten any setscrews that have loosened and to lubricate all pulley bearings.
- Examine belt for damage. Remove unraveled edges and cords and replace or repair any lacing that has become worn or frayed.
- Examine return rollers. The same metal rod used in examining pulleys and bearings can be used here to detect any unusual noises coming from the hex shafts. Touch said rod to the protruding ends of those shafts and bring the other end to your ear; if you detect any abnormal sounds emanating from the bearings, they may need to be repaired or replaced.
- Examine mounting bolts. Both the hold-down bolts on the conveyer and the mounting bolts on the drive motor must be checked to ensure that they have not loosened since maintenance was last conducted.
- Examine the electrical cable reel. During the examination, you’ll want to extend and retract your conveyor so that you may observe the recoil of the cable. If the cable sags, you can attempt to address it by adding wrap to the spring at the reel housing. Check also to see that the cable is not pulling out from the cable connector.
Quarterly Conveyor Maintenance
- Lubricate and adjust cam rollers. While the front cam support blocks can be lubricated without removing the guards, the rear guards must be removed in order to reach the rear cams. Examine the rollers during the process for any damage and to ensure that they have been properly adjusted.
Semiannually Conveyor Maintenance
- Change fluid in gear boxes. Consult your owner’s manual for the type of lubricant your system’s gear box takes and the steps that must be followed in order to change it out.
- Observe drive section. While the system is running, use the metal rod mentioned above to identify excessive vibration from bearings or gears. If the vibrations emanating from these parts are unusually loud or erratic, that may be a sign that they are in need of repair or replacement.
- Clean boom roller chains. Wipe dirt from both chains and sprockets and lubricate the chain.
- Check and lubricate wheel bearings. Inspect every wheel bearing for wear and alignment and to see if the mount is exhibiting proper tightness. Increase the frequency of this process to quarterly if this unit is regularly traversed.
- Clean track. Examine the rear track for dirt and debris and remove any found.
Conveyor Maintenance Parts
Though there are a great number of parts to keep track of in the maintenance of your conveyor system, the task of keeping it in proper working order does not need to be daunting or intimidating. By instituting a comprehensive maintenance schedule - and sticking to it - you can lengthen the life of your equipment, avoid costly breakdowns, and ensure the safety of your employees. If you have any other questions regarding conveyer system maintenance - or simply wish to know more about how Handling Concepts can improve your material handling capabilities - you can always get in touch with one of our friendly and knowledgeable customer service representatives.