How to Troubleshoot Belt Conveyor Problems

A belt conveyor is a medium or an endless loop, which carries baggage, products-in-progress, or packed items, depending upon the application, to their destination. However, carrying stuff is just one of the application areas in multiple industries. It is used in lever and pulley mechanisms in the form of an endless rotational loop to process or churn a given material. A conveyor belt finds applications in many industries where material handling, transporting, loading, and unloading is required. It ranges from manufacturing unit assemblies to airports and malls to warehouses. It is crucial to maintain the conveyor belts and fix them on time to avoid downtimes and production losses due to breakdowns. Let’s find out the working of conveyor belts and how to troubleshoot problems with conveyor belts to increase their operational life.

How Does a Conveyor Belt Work?

Primarily, conveyor belts work on the lever and pulley mechanism. They are attached to multiple electric motors in the loop, which drive them forward. The rotational loop made of varying materials from fabric to metal, depending upon the application, is the actual conveyor belt. It rotates in the loop based on the rotor movement, and there is constant friction between the two. With two or more rotors attached, one side of the belt moves in one direction, and the other in the opposite direction.

Fix Conveyor Belt Issues

Common Causes of Conveyor Belt Problems

While overuse and no maintenance will result in an eventual wear and tear, there are other reasons for the same. Here are a few reasons why conveyor belt problems may occur:

  1. Spilling of Materials: It is possible that whatever material is being carried on the belt can spill over on it, especially if they are in powder or liquid form. This commonly happens at loading and unloading points. This causes buildups, which hampers the performance of the conveyor. Additionally, it can risk workers’ safety and violate the environmental regulations.
  2. Slipping of the Belt: A conveyor belt can slip in case of excess load and tension. This can also happen in case the head pulley and splices break down or wear out. Material buildup can also be one of the causes of such slippage.
  3. Throwing Items on the Conveyor Belt: During the loading process, especially in highly mobile places such as airports, items or baggage are thrown in a hurry. This definitely results in wear and tear and in fact the metallic parts of a bag may damage the chutes of the belt.
  4. Roller Issues: Most conveyor belts are made of high-quality stainless steel or aluminum, which makes them robust to withstand huge weight. However, when rollers grip the belt their sharp edges, which can be damaging for the belt as well as the material transferred. This is also a safety issue for workers.
  5. Blockages: The buildup of spilled material, dirt, rust, and so on eventually leads to blockages. These blockages jam the movement of the belt, and hence interfere with its normal functioning.
  6. Intermittent or No Movement of the Conveyor Belt: The reason for this may be as basic as a loose electrical connection. So, fix it. If that is not the case, check the wiring for any damage. If the movement is intermittent, the issue could be with the photo eyes mounted along the sides of the belt. They are actually meant to identify a safety hazard. However, if the photo eyes are not cleaned on a regular basis, it could cloud their vision, and lead to the intermittent movement of the conveyor belt.
  7. Off Center Belt Loading: This happens due to incorrect tracking at the time of loading or the type and variation of the load at the load point. This condition can also occur if the conveyor belt runs in one direction for a long distance. Improper or off center loading can result in wear and tear of the belt’s top cover and edges.

How to Troubleshoot a Conveyor Belt?

A careful visual inspection of your conveyor belts would reveal some major issues. This helps fix problems before they go out of hand or cost a bomb. Also, it ensures workers’ safety. Here’s a crisp conveyor belt troubleshooting guide which may help with the maintenance of conveyor belts and address some common issues:

  • You can use belt ploughs to address the spilling issue. Also, proper and regular cleaning of the belt is essential to avoid other problems material buildup resulting in blockages. By cleaning, the dirt and debris are also removed, which helps enhance the conveyor belt’s performance.
  • Regular checking and cleaning not only removes material buildup but brings to notice any small damage or wear. This helps avoid slippages and mistracking of the belt.
  • To fix the off center loading of the belt, ensure the material being transferred moving in the same direction as that of the belt. Also make sure that the load peak is located close to the belt center.
  • Ensure the pulleys are lined up uniformly in the square-shaped conveyor frame to prevent slipping of belt.
  • If the configurations and frames of the conveyor belt are changed as a part of an upgrade or change in the process, the level of the conveyor bed may be disturbed or it may come off the square frame. So, when such changes are done, be sure to check the frame level and square.
  • One precaution, a user must take is observing where you place your hands, and be careful of the stuff coming on the conveyor.
  • To check whether the bearings are grinding and running smoothly, place a metal tip onto the roller shaft, and hear the noise of the screwdriver handle.

Are you looking for new and used conveyor equipment? Ensure you get them from a reliable supplier who also provides maintenance services to fix conveyor belt problems. JM Industrial is a one stop solution for used, as well as new high-quality surplus conveyors and used industrial process machinery.