Jul 22, 2020
Move Material Correctly, Or Lose It in Dusts, Fines, Spillage
If an aggregate producer or plant manager moves material incorrectly, inefficiencies creep into the operation. To ensure conveyor belts stay in peak operating condition, thus move material in the most efficient manner, owners have to inspect them and perform routine maintenance on a regular basis.
These things may take time, but they make sense. You’ve got to move material correctly, or lose material in dust, fines, spillage and so on.
Let’s talk specifically about moving aggregate material along conveyor belts. We’ve already shared the safety aspects of maintaining conveyor belts and why cleanliness is an important factor in keeping workers safe (see the September 2019 issue at www.theasphaltpro.com), but there are additional reasons for keeping belts in good repair. Movement, for starters.
If the belt is not configured, installed, inspected, maintained and cleaned properly, you could be setting yourself up for early belt failures. Failures don’t have to mean cracks or tears that result in replacement or big repairs, but we’ve got an article for that if you need it (see the May 2020 issue). Failures could be something as simple, yet as devastating, as sagging. If the conveyor belt starts to sag, whether that’s due to poor belt support from insufficient planning/configuration or from improper tensioning, you’ll find entrapment of material between the belt and components. Where material gets “stuck” is where you’ll accumulate dust and material spillage and where you’ll see entrapment damage to the belt. None of these things are good.
I don’t need to tell this audience that errant dust and fines could lead to fussy neighbors and potential health worries for workers.
To reduce entrapment damage and all its accompanying problems, plan out proper belt support to move material efficiently. For example, align pulleys so you don’t necessarily require a dynamic tracker in front of the take-up pulley; this helps keep the belt tracking without giving it extra components to “touch.” Of course, the touching isn’t equal everywhere. In other words, tension on the belt isn’t equal everywhere. Under low tension, you’ll see more contact between the roller and the belt than you’ll see with high tension. A good tactic to monitor the belt tracking is to watch for and identify the low-tension rollers. If you take the time to run the conveyor while unloaded, you can check tensioning to ensure the belt is just “kissing” the rollers with gentle contact.
Your regular inspection and monitoring of belts and conveyor components goes a long way in the struggle to keeping wasted material from marring your bottom line. Trapped aggregate, dust or fines may be a financial worry that is definitely worth curbing, but these problems, depending on their severity, can also lead to air quality issues that are definitely worth preventing. With legislation that includes air quality language making its own moves through Congress at press time, it’s only wise to set yourself up for ongoing best practices with periodic checks of your conveyors and belts. Also review the information we share in the frequent production-themed issues of AsphaltPro for tips and ideas to stay in compliance and in your neighbors’ good favor.