Preventive conveyor maintenance pays off

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Use the golden rules of conveyor maintenance to improve efficiency, lengthen equipment life, and decrease emission of fugitive materials.

Whether you’re 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 the Operation Manager’s blood pressure spikes and the Maintenance Manager’s migraine kicks in. To avoid conveyor shutdowns – and preserve the company health care policy – consider these conveyor maintenance tips:

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 working on 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. It may seem like they need to disassemble half the system to get to the component that needs to be fixed. When considering your next conveyor purchase, make sure conveyor components are:

  • Easy to see
  • Easy to safely reach
  • Easy to replace

Failure to consider these three golden rules of maintenance can lead to avoidance, shortcuts, reductions 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’s an accident. Conveyor inspections and maintenance can pose significant risks to employees because these activities bring workers into close proximity with 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 for the power of the conveyor and potential risks of its operation. It’s critical that only competent, well-trained personnel, equipped with proper test equipment and tools, perform conveyor maintenance procedures.

PRO TIP: The Martin Engineering Foundations Program, available through Gulf Atlantic Industrial Equipment, is one of the most well-designed Bulk Material Handling training programs available.

Plan Your Maintenance Schedule and Stick to It

Sticking to a maintenance schedule 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.

Failing to plan for maintenance guarantees operational failure when you least expect it and 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!

PRO 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” to Keep Your Conveyor Healthy

This could be one of the most important jobs in your operation. Make sure the person responsible for this duty has the proper information, training, and tools to effectively evaluate the health of your conveyor. Make sure your Belt Walker has:

  • All required personal protective equipment
  • An up-to-date maintenance checklist and date log
  • An angle finder to accurately evaluate structure inclines
  • A tachometer to measure belt speed
  • A flashlight to see in dark or enclosed areas

PRO TIP: A cell phone camera is great for capturing instant snapshots and videos of problem areas and immediately sending them to the person responsible for addressing the problem.

Don’t Let the Daisy Chain Stop Your Operation

When one component fails, the whole system grinds to a halt and the belt stops. Frequent inspections 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 causes the belt to track off resulting in equipment damage.

PRO 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. Why would you consult with anyone other than an experienced, field tested equipment supply company when 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 the experts at Gulf Atlantic Industrial Equipment have done for more than 40 years. If you have a question, need information, want to order a component or even an entirely new system, Gulf Atlantic is your best resource to get the job done with equipment specifically selected for your operation.

Connect with the experts at Gulf Atlantic Industrial Equipment, call (800) 792-7427 or email Info@GulftAtlanticEquipment.com.