Conveyor Maintenance – A Pain in the Asphalt that Pays Off

Whether you are an asphalt producer, aggregate operation, concrete producer, precast operation, coal yard, or even a recycle yard, your operation is shut down tighter than Dick’s hatband once that conveyor stops running. That’s about the same time that the operations manager’s blood pressure spikes and the maintenance manager’s migraine kicks in. So, here are some keys points to consider to avoid those issues and preserve the company health care policy at the same time.

Start With Easy Access

Ideally, this is one of the primary considerations at the beginning of a conveyor purchase. Nothing is more frustrating to your maintenance personnel than to be responsible for maintenance of conveyor components that do not have safe and proper access. Delays in access can be due to requirements for confined-space permits, air testing, scaffolding or man lifts, cranes or hoists, or special tools required to open access doors. Sometimes, it seems like they have to disassemble half the system to get to the component that needs to be fixed. So, when considering your next conveyor purchase, follow the “3 Easy’s”:

Easy to See

Easy to Safely Reach

Easy to Replace

Failure to consider these three golden rules of maintenance can lead to maintenance avoidance, maintenance shortcuts, reduction in safety, shorter equipment life, reduced process efficiency, and increased emission of fugitive materials.

Safety First and Always

Just when you think everybody gets it, there is an accident. Conveyor inspections and maintenance are one of those situations that can pose significant risks to employees because these activities bring the workers into close proximity to the conveyor system under potentially dangerous conditions. The best approach to safety is a safety training (and retraining) program that develops and maintains a healthy respect by all personnel for the power of the conveyor and potential risks of its operation. Some adjustments can be made only with the belt running and some routine maintenance is performed while the belt is in operation. It is critical that only competent, well-trained personnel, equipped with proper test equipment and tools, perform conveyor maintenance procedures. TIP: The Martin Engineering Foundations Program, available through Gulf Atlantic Industrial Equipment (800) 792-7427, is one of the most well-designed Bulk Material Handling training programs available.

Plan Your Maintenance Schedule – And Stick To It – Before Unplanned Repairs Stick It to You

Sticking to a maintenance schedule as closely as possible is one of the most reliable predictors for plant production optimization. Proper outage time planned into the production schedule to allow maintenance is essential to prevent “crisis management” of conveying systems, in which systems run full time all the time, and the only maintenance provided is when something fails. Failing to plan for maintenance virtually guarantees an operational failure when you least expect it and it ends up costing the most money in productivity, emergency repairs, and personnel costs. This could be one of the few cases when “fix it before it’s broke” makes sense! TIP: Keep a file with all conveyor details (make, model, serial number, component specs, etc.) in a safe place – kind of like your company’s Safe Deposit Box! This could save

hours of searching for missing and forgotten information and avoid ordering repair parts that don’t fit and end up extending your down time.

“Walk the Belt” And Keep Your Conveyor Healthy

This could be one of the most important jobs in your operation. So, make sure the person responsible for this duty has the proper information, training, and tools to effectively evaluate the “health” of your conveyor. First of all, make sure your Belt Walker has all of his personal protective equipment – and actually uses it. Then, be sure he has an updated maintenance checklist that includes a list of the conditions he should expect to find in a healthy conveyor system – makes sure this is dated so you have a starting point for the next inspection. Does he have an angle finder to accurately evaluate structure inclines? What about a tachometer to measure belt speed? Something as simple as a flashlight to see in dark or enclosed areas? TIP: A cell phone camera is great at capturing instant snapshots and videos of problem areas and immediately emailing them to the person responsible for addressing the problem.

Don’t Let the Daisy Chain Stop Your Operation

When one of these components fails, the whole system grinds to a halt and the belt stops. So, checks for lubrication, bearing problems, movement, and evidence of general wear and tear on idlers, tensioners, drives, and head and tail pulleys can identify a problem for repair on your schedule – not when it breaks unexpectedly. More importantly, depending on which component fails, it could create a chain reaction that could cause the belt to track off resulting in belt damage. TIP: The most common problems on a conveyor are bearing and idler failures. Monitor these components carefully and save time and money by keeping a few of these critical spare parts on site.

Experience Counts When Selecting or Repairing a Conveyor

You don’t go to the vet when you need a physical. So, why would you consult with anyone other than an experienced, field tested equipment supply company when you are selecting a new conveyor or repair parts for an existing conveyor? These are the battle-tested, seasoned professionals who see problems and provide solutions to producers every single day. You report the problem, they provide the solution. That’s what staff at Gulf Atlantic Industrial Equipment has done for more than 40 years. If you have a question, need information, want to order a component or even an entire new system, Gulf Atlantic is your best resource to get the job done with equipment specifically selected for your operation.

Gulf Atlantic Industrial Equipment, Inc. can be contacted at (800) 792-7427, (352) 628-6674, Info@GulfAtlanticEquipment.com, or you can visit their website at www.GulfAtlanticEquipment.com.

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