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The right equipment matched with an ongoing maintenance plan

18 Nov The right equipment matched with an ongoing maintenance plan

Maintenance SignThe starting point for an equipment maintenance plan is well before the equipment is actually installed and working.

That’s the view of a leading food processing plant asset manager and of us at EQM.

The key asset manager says it’s about how it is important to look at how smart design, also needed to be matched with the right equipment.

“The key asset manager was involved in developing a new dairy plant and a target was set to have fewer than 20 modifications during commissioning prior to the plant operating at full production.

“They achieved it with just six issues that needed to be fixed and by the time the first planned maintenance shut down came around they only needed to rectify a further two.”

This really struck a chord with Anthony, who says EQM all too regularly sees poor planning in plant development and choice of equipment.

“Every time we are asked to get involved at the planning and design stage, the outcomes are so much better. We can eliminate unnecessary future maintenance, select the optimum equipment and recommend the best components and keep costs down both upfront and in the long run.”

When considering the purchase of an automated conveyor system, you should also be considering the maintenance aspects of the system. If you have implemented a conveyor system already, then you should be doubly aware of the maintenance requirements!

Every conveyor system will require some maintenance in order to perform as designed and to prevent downtime and breakdowns. With some simple awareness, maintenance and cleaning, your conveyor system will give you many years of reliable service and many more than if you did not pay any consideration to this essential aspect of conveyor system ownership. So here are some handy things to consider:

1. The Signs of a Conveyor System in Need of Some TLC
The danger signs are often poor or noisy operation, a build-up of metal filings or even dirty conveyor components. These signs will almost certainly lead to a loss of efficiency, loss of operation or a complete breakdown with downtime. Breakdowns and downtime can occur at the worst possible time when product is required urgently by customers.

2. A Cleaner Conveyor is a Healthier Conveyor
The most important aspect of conveyor system maintenance is system cleanliness. Dirt and other foreign material can cause damage if lodged in the moving components of a conveyor system. Cleanliness is and should be considered the prime responsibility of the maintenance department as well as with other employees who come into contact with the conveyors.

3. More or Less Lubrication?
Another important aspect of conveyor system maintenance is that of lubrication. More harm can be done to moving components in your conveyor system by over lubrication than by under lubricating. It is not uncommon for a grease seal to burst under the pressure of excessive lubrication thereby ruining the bearing. If in doubt about the amount of grease required, lubricate sparingly, or not at all.

4. The Nuts and Bolts of Maintenance
To ensure problem free operation, nuts and bolts should be checked and tightened regularly. All mechanisms with moving linkages and pivots should be checked for freeness and kept clean and oiled with a light oil at regular intervals. Lubrication is also required between bearing pin and bush and roller and also between link plates at the pinch points.

5. What About the Chains?
In the case of chains and sprockets, the lubrication should be applied immediately after the chain leaves the sprocket and with the chain running. Chains can be best lubricated with a brush and lubricant. The chain and sprocket should be kept clean and lubricated. Remove old dried oil by wiping with a solvent soaked rag. Finally, check sprocket alignment using a straight edge and re-align if necessary. The chain should have 10 – 25mm of movement to maintain proper tension. The sprocket set screws should be checked for tightness.

6. Motor Oil!
Where geared motors or worm boxes have been used in your conveyor system it is recommended that the oil levels are checked and re-filled periodically. Roller bearings are lubricated and sealed for life. No attention is required other than inspection for correct operation.

7. What about Conveyor Belting?
An initial stretch of 3% can be expected with this type of belt. Whilst most of this is taken up during commissioning, it is recommended that the belts be checked after 6 weeks of operation and the take-ups further adjusted if necessary. During commissioning, the conveyor belts have been adjusted to run along the approximate centreline of the conveyor. When adjustments are made for tensioning of the belts, it is imperative to take great care in adjusting both sides of the roller by an equal amount to retain this tracking. Please note that bad tracking will cause belt edge wear and will considerably reduce the life of the conveyor belt.

8. Take Care
So far as it is practical, maintenance on conveyors should only be performed when the equipment is correctly isolated. If it is necessary to power the conveyor while performing start up checks, extreme care should be taken to avoid catching clothing, fingers, tools, etc. in the moving parts.

Below is a checklist covering daily to annual checks.

If you are experiencing conveyor reliability issues, require spare parts or are seeking advice on servicing requirements, talk to us.

We know conveyors like the back of our hand!