Large manufacturing facilities house numerous valuable machines and assets crucial for daily operations. Any malfunction in these assets can lead to significant losses for companies relying on them. The conveying system, a prime example of such assets, plays a pivotal role in streamlining the manufacturing process by facilitating the movement of items between different workstations.
When a conveying system malfunctions, it can result in work delays and chaos within the workplace. Employees heavily depend on this asset for efficient day-to-day tasks. Hence, it’s essential to prioritize conveying system maintenance. Regular maintenance not only helps in preventing costly replacements and repairs but also reduces downtime. Continue reading to explore comprehensive insights into conveying system maintenance.
What Is a Conveyor Machine and How Does It Work?
A conveying system, a mechanical handling device that transports items from one area to another, is precious when dealing with bulky and large materials. Its efficiency in moving various products has made it indispensable in material handling and packaging.
While conveying systems are commonly found in airports and supermarkets, various industries now rely on different types of conveying systems to meet their specific needs. Two well-known types in the market are chain conveying systems and belt conveying systems.
Essential Parts of the Conveying System
- Belt Support: This component is essential for ensuring the smooth movement of the belt without any restrictions. If a heavy item is placed on the belt or becomes unstable, the belt may fail to move properly, leading to inconsistent movements or complete stoppage. Strong support units are crucial for efficient belt movement and maintaining tension.
- Drive Unit: The drive unit is responsible for powering the conveying system and facilitating its movement. It has a counter bearing to ensure the moving parts remain in perfect condition. Additionally, it plays a crucial role in maintaining smooth belt movement, both in the forward and reverse directions.
- Pulley System: This external component is responsible for controlling the speed of the belt. Each unit consists of two pulleys, one of which remains idle while the other is powered by electricity. In modern conveying systems, you may also observe additional rotors integrated into the overall frame for enhanced functionality.
How the Conveying System Works
As mentioned earlier, a conveying system consists of a belt stretched across two or more pulleys. The belt forms a continuous loop around these pulleys, allowing it to rotate continuously. The system includes a drive pulley responsible for moving materials or items between different locations by towing or driving the belt.
Most common conveying systems use a rotor to power the belt and pulley. The friction between these surfaces ensures that the belt remains securely fastened to the rotor. It’s crucial that both the driver pulley and idler pulley rotate in the same direction, either clockwise or counterclockwise, for the belt to move as it should.
While many conveying systems you encounter in places like grocery stores or moving walkways are straight, there are situations where the system needs to turn to transport items to their designated stations. In such cases, the system incorporates special cone-shaped wheels or rotors to guide the belt around bends and twists without causing entanglement.
The Different Types of Conveying Systems
The common types of conveying systems include the following:
A pneumatic conveying system also referred to as a vacuum conveying system, uses vacuum or air pressure to move items or materials through closed ducts, tubes, or along surfaces. This system has widespread use in various materials handling applications, including paper handling, dust collection, and ticket delivery. It is also suitable for transporting scrap, food, minerals, and chemicals. The materials used in this system can be either metallic or non-metallic, and various sizes are available to accommodate different throughput requirements and loads.
Screw conveying systems, also known as spiral, auger, or worm conveying systems, use spiral elements to transport various materials. They consist of a rotating spiral screw or steel auger around a central shaft to propel the material per the screw’s design and rotation direction. This spiral screw operates within a trough, casing, or compartment to harness the rotational force.
Manufacturers utilize screw conveying systems for transporting items like seeds, flakes, powders, grains, and granules. On the other hand, these devices can mix, blend materials, agitate, or maintain solutions. In agriculture, they serve many purposes, including operating farm machinery like threshers and balers and moving grains and crops in factories.
Mini screw conveying systems can handle wet, non-flowing, or caking materials, such as concrete, which might be challenging to move. Screw conveying systems also serve various applications, including conveying mechanical parts or acting as a bottling conveying system. The specific application determines the screw’s design, which can be either paddle or ribbon, and a chain and sprocket, direct drive, or gears can power it.
Screw conveying systems have various types, including bottom and centerless screw conveying systems. While bottom conveying systems use multiple screws within an open trough, centerless, shaftless, or screw conveying systems lack a central shaft and consist of an empty helix. This design transports the material while offering greater flexibility within the casing. The material choice can be metal or non-metal, depending on what you want to convey.
Belt conveying systems are material handling systems that use continuous belts to move materials or products. These belts form a never-ending loop between two end pulleys, often with rolls beneath one or both ends. You have two options if you want to support the conveying system’s belt: use a metal slider pan for light loads with low friction or rollers. Motors equipped with variable or constant speed reduction gears supply the power.
The choice of belt material should align with the operating conditions. Common materials for this belting include rubber, leather, plastic, metal, and fabric. For heavier loads, a thicker and stronger conveying system belting construction is necessary.
Belt conveying systems are usually powered and can run at different speeds to meet the desired throughput. They can run horizontally or at an incline. Plus, you can adjust them to handle bulk or large materials. The good thing about belt conveying systems is that they are cost-effective, simple to construct, and user-friendly, making them ideal for moving bulk materials like coal, ore, grain, and sand.
The slat/apron conveying system utilizes a chain-driven system of steel slats to transport objects along its length. It comprises steel panels linked with specialized chain attachments, and an electric motor and gearbox power the chain. These conveying systems are available in various sizes and load capacities.
These conveying systems are primarily used for handling materials, especially for moving big and heavy items such as crates, drums, or pallets. They shine in heavy-industry environments like metalworks and steel mills. Slat conveying systems can even transport hot or oily items through a heat-drying process. Their use of slats in heavy-duty scenarios extends the conveying system’s lifespan compared to belt conveying systems, which wear out faster when handling heavy loads.
Gravity conveying systems have parallel rollers attached to the frame for moving products using gravity or manual force. Motors do not power these rollers; they depend on gravity for movement or can be manually operated when positioned horizontally.
Depending on the available floor space and intended use, these conveying systems can be set up in a straight or curved configuration. The conveying systems are known for their speed and safety in transporting loads due to the inclusion of various sensors and equipment. Roller conveying systems are often used in assembly lines, loading docks, and baggage handling areas.
Powered roller conveying systems come with mounted powered rollers within frames for product transport. Crucial specifications of these conveying systems include roller size, drive type, material, and axle center measurements. These conveying systems are commonly found in material handling tasks that demand powered product movement. Powered roller conveying systems are useful in various tasks like steel manufacturing, food handling, and packaging.
The Ideal Maintenance Tips of a Conveying System
While a conveying system may be a single machine, it’s a system of multiple interconnected components that rely on each other for proper operation. Inspecting the conveying system’s components and understanding their roles in maintaining its operation and preventing problems is crucial.
Replace Broken Parts
Suppose you want to avoid lengthy downtime due to conveying system breakdowns caused by worn parts. In that case, it’s essential to regularly inspect your conveying system for such issues and quickly replace any damaged components.
Clean the Conveying System’s Motor
Regularly clean the conveying system motor to prevent dirt, grease, dust, or food residue buildup, which can block fan vents and cause the belt motor to overheat. Neglecting this maintenance may result in the motor overheating and needing replacement.
Perform Preventive Maintenance
Performing preventive maintenance is crucial for an efficiently operating belt conveying system. Inspect all components and replace worn ones. Upgrade components like cables and wires with top-quality options as the manufacturer recommends. This maintenance will prolong your system’s lifespan and prevent expensive breakdowns. Maintaining a log for each belt conveying system is advisable to track preventive maintenance.
Align Pulleys and Assess Their Tear and Wear
Ensure you align your pulleys with the rollers to maintain even belt tension on both ends. Misaligned pulleys can cause uneven stretching of the belt. Keep the material centered to extend the belt’s lifespan.
Check the Conveying System’s Bearings
Regularly inspect the conveyor’s bearings. Lubricate them as needed to prevent conveying system belt issues caused by dry or loose bearings. Alternatively, consider using sealed bearings that require minimal to no lubrication. If the conveying system belt contacts any lubricant, ensure it’s cleaned immediately, as prolonged contact with oil can lead to deterioration.
Check the Belts for Slippage
Ensure the belts do not slip, which can happen when they lack proper tension or bear heavy loads. Remember that there’s a high chance of belt slippage if the pulley is worn smooth. While loose belts may fare better on pulleys with grips, they can still damage the belt’s underside. Therefore, if your belt is slipping, it’s essential to replace it immediately to prevent potential failures and any other hazards.
A Simplified Routine Conveying System Maintenance Checklist
If you want to minimize any hazard from this machine, it’s sensible to adhere to the following maintenance checklist.
- Clean the conveying system daily to prevent any components from affecting its operation.
- Physically inspect drive components and remove any debris stuck in the conveying system.
- Check the conveying system belt and joints for uncommon damage or peeling.
- Look for broken or damaged parts.
- Examine the entire belt surface for signs of wear that could cause problems.
- Ensure the conveying system belts are properly aligned.
- Test the emergency stops to ensure they function correctly.
- Inspect rollers for debris buildup, structural damage, motor issues, etc.
- Verify the placement of machine guards, especially near sprockets, pulleys, belts, and pinch points.
Motor Maintenance Checklist
- Monitor gearbox temperature for excess heat from the gearbox or motor.
- Listen for unusual noises during conveying system operation.
- Ensure bearings are functioning correctly, as worn bearings can lead to costly repairs.
- Document and track motor temperature monthly to detect potential issues.
- Check the mounting bolts to confirm they are secure.
- Regularly inspect and clean idlers to prevent issues caused by environmental factors like freezing, misalignment, or debris buildup.
Belt Maintenance Checklist
- Keep an eye out for material spillage or belt slippage.
- Examine the belt for cracks, cuts, or damage.
- Inspect the upper and lower cover rubber for excessive wear and damage.
- Check for abrasions on the conveying system belt.
- Assess the belt chain for extra fraying, slack, buildup, or damage.
- Regularly check the tension of V-belts and O-rings to ensure they are not worn, overly tight, or too loose.
- Look for carryback, which is material sticking or embedding into the chain or belt instead of discharging at the head. It travels back until it falls off at the conveyor’s tail or is removed. Using belt cleaners to reduce or eliminate carryback or minimize this issue would be helpful. Furthermore, you can place belt scrapers in both primary and secondary positions to remove residue and debris effectively, minimizing carryback.
In summary, conveying systems play a vital role in automation and production and are tailored for specific applications. While belt conveying systems are the most renowned, there are various other types, as mentioned earlier. Like any machinery, conveying systems need regular maintenance.