Conveyor Inspection Reduces Maintenance Costs, Improves Safety
Gary Mintchell | May 13, 2014
Martin Engineering’s Walk the Belt Program provides regularly scheduled reviews of belts, cleaners, tracking, chutes, dust control and other components from experienced specialists with the training and expertise to maximize productivity and reduce downtime.
Featuring immediate transfer of data and photos to facility managers, the program establishes an evolving record of each belt for current analysis and future reference. By taking responsibility for routine maintenance and identifying potential issues before components fail, technicians assist customers in maintaining system performance and extending service life, while minimizing fugitive material and unplanned shutdowns.
According to this Neponset, IL-based company, every conveyor is different, even those in the same facility. Thus, within the scope of its “Walk the Belt Program,” it creates a specific inspection plan based on the design, capacity, throughput requirements and the desired level of fugitive material abatement.
How it works
Despite the program’s name, Martin Engineering’s technicians do far more than merely walk along the length of a customer’s belts. One of their inspection techniques is standing stationary at a number of points along each conveyor and watching one or more complete revolutions of the belt, noting its condition, tracking, carryback and other factors.
They take detailed notes, identifying trouble spots by component name and location as they are found, often logging data directly into a smart phone or tablet immediately at the site. Digital cameras and other devices allow the technicians to take photos, record video, make rough measurements and perform other tasks, then share a wealth of information with customer operations personnel for discussion and prioritizing.
Maintenance and repair tasks can be included in the program and performed routinely, or scheduled upon request. Martin Engineering professionals can also provide a comprehensive survey of the entire plant’s material-handling system, including measured levels of respirable and fugitive dust and spillage. This report delivers grid-based results, giving the client real information that can be used to prioritize needs and avoid misplaced spending.
Martin Engineering points to a number of benefits associated with this “Walk the Belt” program. Among them are reduced costs. For example, while conveyor owners typically perform service on their systems only when a component fails, it’s less expensive in the long run to incorporate continuous maintenance into a plant’s operational plan.
Enhanced worker safety is another important benefit. The company points to the significant risks that conveyor inspections and maintenance can pose to a plant’s in-house staff. Employees that may not be well-trained for such inspections and maintenance are brought into close proximity to moving belts, rolling components and pinch points, all in an environment that is commonly dirty, distracting and noisy.
Fugitive material management is a key element of the inspection program, and one of Martin Engineering’s specialties. As problems from the creation, accumulation or escape of dust are multiplied by the increased possibility of regulatory citations, fines and shutdowns, it’s imperative that plants prevent the escape of fugitive particles.
A key to minimizing the release of dust is the proper maintenance of components such as belt cleaners, transfer point seals, dust curtains, suppression systems and air cleaning equipment. Proper adjustment and timely service will minimize carryback and dust issues all along the conveyor.