Conveyor Belt Alignment
Proper conveyor belt alignment plays a significant role in efficiency at a bulk material handling plant. Misalignment occurs when there is a problem with the conveyor belt tracking, the process for keeping the conveyor belt on its proper path.
Just a few causes of conveyor belt mistracking might include:
- damaged idler frames
- uneven skirting pressure
- too much belt tensioning
- lack of transition idlers
- uneven or misaligned pulleys
- conveyor rollers of different diameters
- improper belt splicing
- worn self-aligning idlers
The consequences of improper conveyor belt tracking can range from uneven belt wear to a complete slipping of the conveyor belt to a side, causing the entire system to misalign. In addition, the problems that begin at the belt can ripple through production, leading to shutdowns for inspection, maintenance, repair, and potential safety risks.
Frequent monitoring of the conveyor belt is good business practice. Doing so allows operators to spot and resolve any developing issues before they become hazards or reasons for halting production.
At the same time, even careful inspections can miss something, and even the most reliable personnel can make a mistake. Worn or ineffective conveyor components also contribute to problems with belt tracking and alignment.
Operators can achieve greater command of material flow by increasing their awareness of the causes of misalignment and the engineered solutions that will prevent them.
Misalignment: What to Watch For
The conveyor belt’s path is crucial to all operations on the floor. However, a conveyor belt that constantly slips or alters shape can significantly set back daily business goals.
The following are a few leading factors behind improper conveyor belt tracking.
The leading cause of mistracking is the build-up of product, debris, and other primary materials on the bottom side of the belt or pulleys. In particular, the build-up can form a crown or raised portion on the pulley, making the belt mistrack.
Carryback is another effect of excess material build-up. Even small amounts of residue can become a problem when they accumulate beneath the belt over time. Carryback can also cause material spillage, leading to fire and health hazards and lost product and profit.
During scheduled inspection and maintenance, always be sure to check the entire system for cleanliness from all directions. In addition, well-engineered conveyor components such as training idlers, impact beds, diagonal plows, and belt scrapers should be part of a comprehensive conveyor belt tracking system as well.
Seized rollers & sharp edges
Many conveyor belts are made from metallic materials such as steel. This is good for belt durability and lifespan, but it also means that when the rollers seize up, they can form sharp edges that make the belt mistrack down the centerline of the conveyor belt.
In addition to potentially damaging materials and products on the belt, sometimes severely, these sharp edges can develop into a significant safety hazard. A required shutdown for maintenance and repairs can be extensive as well. Therefore, the rollers should be checked often.
Improper installation or essential wear and tear can make return idlers frozen, dirty, or misaligned. In addition, idlers that halt or freeze can have a significant effect on conveyor belt tracking. Therefore, these parts should be checked regularly for cleanliness, wear, and alignment.
Unfortunately, some conveyor belts can be cut incorrectly when they are manufactured. This will make them crooked from the get-go and contribute to flawed conveyor belt tracking.
New or replacement conveyor belts should be inspected for proper cutting during installation. If a belt has already been installed, the belt can be removed from the frame and laid flat on the floor for proactive troubleshooting. If the conveyor belt arcs or curves at any point, it is not straight and should be promptly replaced.
On a similar note, a crooked or slanted frame can misguide the conveyor belt and cause misalignment. The frame should be inspected from all angles to confirm that it is level and square. Check the end pulleys to ensure they are even with the conveyor frame as well.
Snub rollers should likewise align with the frame to apply proper tension to the belt, as they are crucial to conveyor belt tracking.
Benetech: The Right Conveyor Components
Having the proper conveyor components to prevent misalignment is just as important as knowing and spotting potential causes. In addition, consistent conveyor belt tracking requires equipment that is engineered to solve specific challenges to alignment.
The Benetech Training Idler is a belt-centralizing return pulley made of precision-turned components. Its patented design includes an internal pivot module that keeps the shaft rotating to suit the conveyor belt direction.
The Training Idler responds instantly to a belt misalignment and does so without special modifications to the structure. It also requires no maintenance, fits into a standard drop bracket, and can be made to suit all belt sizes in operations in any country. Of course, special design requirements, such as specific shaft dimensions and lengths, are also possible.
Each Training Idler further includes Benetech Pressure Control Brackets that prevents overloading of the shaft, maintain the correct pressure between the training idler and the conveyor belt, suit the training idler size and series with individual grading, and adjust pressure easily with a bolt from below.
A solution to ineffective conventional sidearm roller frames, the Benetech Troughing Training Idler is a fully mechanical pivot and tilt frame that responds automatically to the slightest misalignment in the conveyor belt’s troughing section. It achieves this by gently guiding the conveyor belt back to the center of the frame.
The Troughing Training Idler frames are made with special hardened steels, precision machining, and Robotic Mig welding to endure even extreme conditions. The frame and steering rollers also can handle belt-edge damage and bulky loads.
Conveyor belts that are reversible can create a major challenge with misalignment because, unlike unidirectional belts, they cannot be corrected with adjusting pulleys and frames. Any adjustments to fix misalignment in the forward direction become the problem area when the conveyor belt is reversed.
The Benetech Reversible Training Idler solves this by pivoting the shaft in the belt’s direction of travel. The unit includes a distinctive bracket and inspection cover that lets you see the shaft has rotated in line with the belt direction. It also allows you to adjust the Reversible Training Idler roller to ensure optimal contact pressure between it and the belt.
Correctly installed, the Reversible Training Idler will instantly correct misalignment on the return side of the belt, thus preventing belt-edge and structural damage. Like the other Benetech Training Idlers, it is built with corrosion- and wear-resistant materials for excellent durability in any environment.
Benetech: Your Ally in Bulk Material Handling
The right partner with the right conveyor components for optimal belt tracking helps you change interruptions into constant production. Therefore, at Benetech, we dedicate the best of our resources to solving the challenges we know confront you each day. If you would like to discuss conveyor belt tracking and alignment for your bulk material handling, contact us at (630) 844-1300 to speak with a specialist.
Posted in Conveyor Belts