If you rely on conveyor belts and the belt tracking to keep your business moving, you want that belting to last as long as possible. For over 40 years, the engineering experts at MIPR Corp. have helped customers keep their conveyor belting systems running strong—minimizing downtime and maximizing the value of their investment. Following the tracking guidelines below will help you keep your belts running as long as possible.
Think of the tires on your car or truck. (We know this is a conveyor belt blog but we promise we’re going somewhere with this!) What happens when your wheel alignment is off? When car wheels are misaligned, they do not meet the road at the proper angle. Your driving performance degrades and tires begin to wear down unevenly and much faster than they normally would—leading to potentially unsafe situations. In fact, tires wear out twice as fast when not properly aligned!
And how can you tell your wheels are misaligned? You feel strange vibrations in the steering column. When you take your hands off the wheel, the car will start to drift or pull in one particular direction. Your steering may also become noisy, your tires may start to squeal, and your tires will wear down unevenly until they are unsafe.
Just as regular wheel alignment is essential to good car maintenance, proper tracking of a conveyor belt is absolutely critical to your belt’s long-term performance. The symptoms of poorly tracked belts are also quite similar to misaligned vehicle tires! If your belt is wearing on one side or area, if it makes strange noises, or if it frequently breaks down or gets stuck, you are probably looking at a tracking problem.
Companies that want to get the most out of their conveyor belt investment take the time to test and adjust conveyor belt tracking regularly. (In fact, larger factories and facilities even invest in auto-tracking technology.) Your team can keep your conveyor belt—and your company—running well with these conveyor belt tracking tips from the experts at MIPR Corp.
Clean and Inspect the Belting Frame
Even small pieces of grit or worn-down parts can cause alignment problems in your conveyor belt system over time. Before you install or re-install your belting, make sure you have thoroughly cleaned and inspected all the parts around it. Over time, even belts in the best-run facilities will build up debris, dust, and grime in hard-to-reach places. With the belt removed you have clear access for a thorough cleaning. Check the pulleys, bearings, and rollers to make sure they are functioning properly and well.
Install & Run Your Belt Correctly
You have chosen the perfect conveyor belt for your production line. Great! But if your installation isn’t optimal, your performance won’t be, either. The pulleys and hydraulics surrounding your belting need to be calibrated properly as well. Make sure all safety guarding and precautions are in place and observed by your team, run your belt at approved speeds, and don’t overload your belt or introduce material loads it was not designed to handle.
Clean Your Conveyor Belt of Trapped Materials
For many of our customers, especially clients in bakeries or other types of food production, regular cleaning of their conveyor belting is mandated by food safety regulations or OSHA standards. No matter what your particular industry requires, however, regular cleanings can greatly extend the life of your conveyor belting.
Removing dust and debris and eliminate any carry back. (Carryback—or materials that aren’t properly deposited as the conveyor belt runs—can clog up a conveyor belt system quickly.) And if bacterial or chemical contamination is a risk during your production process, invest in a conveyor belt cleaning system appropriate for your industry. Materials can get stuck both to the pulley and trapped under the belt bottom.
Adjust Tension Properly
The tensioner takes up the slack in the conveyor belt system for optimal performance, and every belt will have its own perfect level of tension and tolerance. (Ask the experts at MIPR about yours!) To measure elongation properly, mark the edges of your belt and ratchet up the tension until you have reached the right marks. Sometimes, you can eyeball it by adjusting the tension until the belt by watching for the point when your belt turns around the pulley without slipping when carrying a full load. (And remember, it can take several complete revolutions for new tension settings to take full effect, so give it a few rounds before re-adjusting.)
Check Belt Tracking Regularly
Your mechanics will notice when a belt falls out of true, so give them time to observe and adjust your conveyor belting system. You want every conveyor belt tracking right down the center of the frame without rubbing up against either side. If that isn’t happening, take the time to adjust it until it does. Use a crowned pulley on at least the drive pulley.
Be Aware of Challenging Tracking Belt Situations
Certain belts and framing setups are harder to keep on track. High-temperature Teflon glass belts and Kevlar glass belts take extra care to keep in alignment. Any narrow conveyor belt—6” or less—has little room for error and can fall out of alignment more quickly. And if your conveyor belt frame isn’t squared up, you will spend a lot more time adjusting your conveyor belt tension and tracking. (Homemade frames are particularly challenging in this respect.)
If you have a conveyor belt that just can’t seem to stay in alignment, talk to the belting experts at MIPR. We can quickly identify whether the problem is originating in the frame, if the belt is the right one for your application, or if it hasn’t been properly installed or tracked. And if improper tracking has worn out your existing belting there is no one better to call for a fast, affordable replacement. We even ship same-day!