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How Can You Improve Conveyor Belt Life and Performance?

Achieving success for your plant's bulk material handling operators revolves around a singular objective each day: efficiently transferring the maximum amount of material while minimizing downtime and maintenance, all within a safe working environment for themselves and their colleagues.

The cornerstone of this success lies in the seamless integration of interdependent material handling components, meticulously optimized for safety and reliability.

At the heart of this synergy lies the conveyor belt. Responsible for the transport and distribution of bulk materials throughout the operation, the conveyor belt assumes a central role. Given its multitude of sizes, lengths, and configurations required by different operations, the conveyor belt often stands as one of the most significant capital investments within a successful operation. Ensuring the continuous operation of conveyor belts, with minimal wear, misalignment, spillage, and dust, becomes paramount for optimizing safe and reliable bulk material handling.

While most conveyor belts are engineered to endure several years of operation, factors such as operating conditions and the type of bulk material being handled can influence their longevity. Operators who prioritize key principles aimed at enhancing conveyor belt life and performance invariably position themselves for unparalleled success.

Transfer Chute

Efficient conveyor belt loading not only preserves belt life but also reduces the likelihood of related issues such as material spillage and dust generation.

The transfer chute serves as the pivotal bulk material handling component responsible for depositing material onto the receiving conveyor belt. A well-designed transfer chute ensures consistent and centered loading, vital for optimal performance.

Material should be loaded by the transfer chute in alignment with the receiving belt's travel direction. Additionally, the chute design should accommodate various material types and environmental conditions. For receiving conveyor belts with side loading, a proper chute design ensures the bulk material flow stream is centrally loaded and aligned with the receiving belt's travel direction.

Unlike traditional box transfer chutes with square corners and vertical orientations, engineered chute designs proactively prevent dust generation rather than merely attempting to control it. Utilizing chamfered or rounded loading elbows, engineered transfer chutes achieve soft loading towards the receiving belt while minimizing turbulent airflow within the belt load zone.

Material Impact

The characteristics of bulk materials and the impact of loads are paramount factors influencing conveyor belt longevity.

The bulk of wear occurs at the point where bulk material is deposited onto the receiving conveyor belt. Once the material reaches the receiving belt's forward velocity, there is no relative motion, and thus no wear.

Soft loading, characterized by lower-impact forces applied centrally onto the receiving conveyor belt in the direction of belt travel, enhances conveyor belt life and performance. This approach also minimizes material impingement and bouncing.

A well-designed system should consider transfer chute height, ensuring it minimizes loading height above the receiving belt. When loading bulk material mid-belt, the transfer chute's height above the receiving belt must accommodate unobstructed material passage under the chute discharge.

Optimal loading systems match the material loading speed with the receiving conveyor belt's speed. Additionally, they ensure the bulk material is delivered with forward velocity, reducing wear on the receiving belt during loading.

A receiving conveyor's trough angle, facilitated by properly designed under-belt support, contributes to centralized bulk material loading and a tighter seal between the conveyor belt and skirting system. Under belt support is typically provided by tightly spaced conveyor idlers, slider beds, or a combination thereof.

Material Containment

As tons of bulk material traverse a conveyor system hourly, effective material and dust containment become imperative.

The skirting system of a receiving conveyor belt encapsulates and seals the material transfer-loading chute and the conveyor belt, effectively containing loose and fugitive material/dust. This is achieved through components such as:

A modular format allows the system to be built to any length on the conveyor, supporting interchangeable skirt seal options. Inspection and maintenance can be safely performed from outside the skirting system, eliminating confined space issues. Additionally, the skirting system enables one-person inspection and adjustment of seals and liners, safely and without special tooling.

Wear Liners

Discharge points for bulk material transfer, designed to enhance conveyor belt life and performance, should incorporate effective material wear liners.

Installed within the skirting system, wear liners provide a protective surface against friction and abrasion caused by conveyed bulk material. They also help manage side-loading forces, preventing them from reaching skirting rubber seals.

Optimizing wear liner performance is best achieved by selecting a system that is easily serviced, with internal liners that can be adjusted externally. By eliminating the need for confined space entry and allowing quick and easy alignment of liners, maintenance downtime is reduced, and safety is improved. Properly aligned wear liners ensure that material entrapment does not damage the conveyor belt. Furthermore, wear liners support centralized bulk material loading on the conveyor and reduce pressure on skirt rubber seals, extending their lifespan.

Wear liners should offer ease of adjustment, alignment, maintenance, and replacement. Safe and convenient inspection should be possible without creating new issues, such as exposed chute walls or material lodging between the chute wall and the liner.

Belt Tracking

Conveyor belt mistracking occurs when a conveyor belt operates off-center from the supporting structure, leading to malfunctions and deterioration. Mistracking incurs labor, time, and material losses, compromises safety, and can damage equipment, such as belt delamination.

Common causes of poor conveyor belt tracking include off-center material loading, incorrect belt splicing, and excessive material buildup within the conveyor system.

Proper conveyor belt tracking depends on corrective conveyor belt tracking idlers, designed to realign the belt for consistent and correct travel.

If alignment is incorrect, belt misalignment occurs due to the conveyor idlers. Proper alignment of both troughing and return idlers over the entire conveyor system length is crucial.

Accumulated material spillage on conveyor belt idlers can increase roll diameter unevenly, exerting uneven forces on the belt's sides and causing misalignment. Additionally, a conveyor belt tracking issue can generate intense friction between the belt and the conveyor frame, leading to belt scorching and softening. Failed idler rolls that are stationary can also cause misalignment, resulting in belt damage.

Ensuring conveyor belt tracking for a correctly aligned belt in its central position requires attention to:

By adhering to these principles and practices, operators can maintain optimal conveyor belt tracking, ensuring efficient and safe material transport within the conveyor system.

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