Much is asked of the conveyor belt, which provides substantial effort and service for bulk material handling operations. As the belt conveys large amounts of raw material each day, it is important the correct conveyor cleaning strategy and center-loading practices are maintained to eliminate carryback and spillage issues.
Belt tracking involves implementing corrective belt tracking rollers to properly align the conveyor belt so the material and belt travel in a correct path. If that alignment is incorrect, there will be slippage between the belt and the tracking rollers.
Beyond affecting load-zone efficiency, a belt tracking problem creates intense friction between the belt and the frame, which can scorch and soften the belt. Related factors such as material spillage also often lead to safety hazards as well as extra housekeeping and maintenance.
What Causes Belt Tracking Issues?
A belt tracking problem can originate from different sources such as:
- improper loading. For proper, consistent production, bulk material needs to be evenly loaded onto the conveyor belt. If material from the transfer chute loads to the left or right of the belt’s centerline, the belt will run sideways toward the material.
- improper belt splicing. Whether for mechanical splicing or vulcanized splicing, the joints of the conveyor belt must be straight. Otherwise, the tension on either side of the belt will be inconsistent and cause the belt to mistrack.
- aging conveyor belt. With great demands placed upon it, the conveyor belt will wear from age and use over time. If an old or worn belt is not replaced, the tension on both sides of the belt will continue to differ and create varying friction. This will deviate the belt from its path.
- material build-up. Unless the conveyor belt has a proper cleaning system, material will build on different components. Excess material on the roller or idler will increase the part’s thickness, causing an uneven force on the belt’s sides and making it mistrack. Material on the bottom of the conveyor belt or the pulleys can create a crown or raised portion of the pulley that leads to misalignment.
- idlers. Where the axis is not perpendicular to the conveyor belt’s running direction, idlers will influence the direction. If the position error of the roller set is too great or if the fastening bolts become loose, the belt will drift. Similarly, if idlers are worn or improperly installed, they can become frozen, dirty, or misaligned, causing mistracking.
How to Keep Your Conveyor Belt on Track
Preventing conveyor belt tracking issues is just as important as understanding what causes them. Proper tracking for a conveyor belt will reinforce a correctly aligned belt in its center position with characteristics such as:
- a stable, rigid supporting structure that withstands the forces acting upon it.
- pulleys and rollers fitted at right angles to the belt-running axis. Adjustable pulleys and rollers should be adjusted only after the belt has been properly run in.
- belt-contact components that are protected from soiling and dirt and cleaned as often as needed.
Proper belt tracking also will feature equipment that is engineered to solve specific alignment challenges. Components may include:
- conveyor belt tracking idler. The design should include precision-turned components, custom shaft dimensions and lengths as needed, and an internal pivot module that keeps the shaft rotating to suit the belt’s direction. The tracking idler should quickly respond to a belt misalignment without modifying the structure, require no maintenance, and fit into a standard drop bracket. It also should be able to support all conveyor belt sizes for operations in any country.
- troughing tracking idler as an effective alternative to conventional sidearm roller frames. A mechanical pivot and tilt frame will respond to even slight misalignments in the belt’s troughing section by gently guiding the belt back to the center of the tracking idler frame. The tracking idler will suit different conveyor belt widths and accommodate any inclination angle required. It also will be easy to set up and install.The frame will be made with special hardened steel, precision machining, and Robotic Mig welding to continue performing even in extreme conditions. The frame and steering
belt tracking rollers will also be able to handle belt-edge damage and bulky loads.
- return training idler that carries the belt back to the tail pulley after the load has been dumped at the head pulley. The return training idler should satisfy CEMA standards and be available in different belt widths. A simple slide return idler can offer easy installation and greater belt support between the discharge point and the tail pulley. A drop and slide return idler can allow for safe removal and installation of rollers from one side of the belt when access is restricted.
- reversible tracking idler as a belt-centralizing return pulley. Reversible conveyor belts can present particular challenges with misalignment because they cannot be corrected with adjusting pulleys and frames as unidirectional conveyor belts can. An adjustment to fix forward misalignment can become the problem area when the belt is reversed.A reversible tracking idler will resolve this by pivoting the shaft in the belt’s direction of travel. A bracket and inspection cover also will provide views of the shaft rotating in line with the belt direction and allow adjustments to the belt tracking roller for correct contact pressure between it and the belt.
Benetech: Your Ally in Bulk Material Handling
As engineers who focus on bulk material handling efficiencies, Benetech understands what’s most important to you. We know what proper conveyor belt tracking means to your daily production and safety, which is why we develop the solutions that adapt to your specific system and application. To discover more about what you can achieve for your conveyor tracking, contact us at (630) 844-1300 to speak with a specialist.