Rock crushing systems typically rely on one or more conveyor belts to transport materials from one station to another. For obvious reasons, keeping these belts in good working order is essential for maintaining a well-run crushing operation—but this can be more difficult than it seems. Conveyor belts are vulnerable to tracking problems, which can in turn lead to damaged equipment, uneven wear, disrupted production schedules, and other headaches.

When we refer to tracking problems, we’re talking about a defect of some kind that causes the conveyor belt to “drift” to one side while in operation. The causes of conveyor belt tracking issues are more varied than you might think. In the following article, we’ll take a look at some of these causes and how you can prevent or correct them.

Inspection and Maintenance Tasks

This is not a comprehensive list of equipment problems that can lead to conveyor belt tracking malfunctions, but it covers the most common cases.

Make sure you have the right belt

Some conveyor problems can be traced to the construction of the belt itself—that is, the wrong type of belt is being used for the tasks it is expected to handle. Some belts are unsuited for certain types of materials or workflows.

For instance, a belt may be too slick or too weak to properly carry specific types of rocks. In some cases, the belt is just too heavy for the system to manage. In still other instances, the belt was cut improperly during manufacturing, giving it a natural tendency to drift off track.

Clean the equipment

This is a very basic maintenance tip, but it shouldn’t be overlooked. Just cleaning out all the dirt, rock particles, and other detritus from the system can help prevent belt alignment problems. For instance, trapped debris can create an artificial “crown” that pulls the belt to one side.

Be sure to give special attention to the parts that come into direct contact with the belt, such as the rollers, idlers, and pulleys. But the best practice is to keep everything as clean as possible to prevent debris from migrating to a place where it shouldn’t be.

Adjust the pulleys and rollers

To prevent the belt from running off track, the rollers and pulleys must be correctly aligned and oriented at right angles to the belt. Routinely checking your rollers and pulleys to ensure that they haven’t been knocked out of position can reduce the likelihood of tracking issues.

Check the conveyor frame

When the structure supporting the conveyor is weak, damaged, or unstable, it could cause tracking problems with the belt. Test your conveyor to ensure that it can properly bear the weight of all the materials that will be transported on it. You should also use a level to check whether the equipment is square.

Check the idler spacing

If the idlers are spaced too far apart, the belt will sag when conveying materials. This can cause premature wear and tear to the belt, which may lead to misalignment.

Adjust belt tension

Too much or too little tension can cause major problems for your belt, including tracking malfunctions. If you can, consult the manufacturer’s recommendations for correct belt tension. Be aware that your newly adjusted conveyor belt will need to go through the system several times before it’s ready to be put into proper use.

Be aware of temperature conditions

Excessively cold temperatures can affect conveyor belt movement, specifically at the points where it comes into contact with the pulleys. If you routinely crush rocks in chilly outdoor environments, you need to have a belt that is specially designed to withstand these low temperatures.

Fix belt holes

Over time, conveyor belts that process hard objects are prone to developing tears, due to direct contact with these materials, excessive belt tension, or another stressor. Even small tears can interfere with the proper functioning of your belt, and these tiny perforations can only become worse if left untreated. It’s best to address the issue as soon as possible.

Fortunately, vulcanization can repair a wide range of conveyor belt tears. You should know the expected lifespan of your conveyor belt and be extra vigilant as it approaches the time in which it will likely need replacement.

Conveyor belt maintenance follows the old principle that an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure. Routine inspection can catch potentially disastrous issues in the early stages, before they can cause expensive damage to the conveyor or lengthy production delays.

Conveyor Belt Safety and Federal Regulations

Keeping your conveyor belts in good working order is not just sound business practice but can also be vital for staying on the right side of workplace safety regulations. The Code of Federal Regulations has established rules for underground coal mines that employ conveyor belts as part of normal operations. These rules (listed at 30 CFR § 75.1731) consist of the following:

  • Any damaged rollers or other conveyor components that pose a fire hazard must be repaired or replaced immediately.
  • Conveyor belts must be aligned to prevent the belt from rubbing against surfaces they should not be in contact with.
  • No materials should be permitted on the belt if they might pose a heating hazard due to friction.
  • Any splicing of the conveyor belt must retain its flame-resistant properties.

Although designed specifically to address working conditions in underground coal mines, these regulations are also good guidelines for any business that depends on conveyor systems to process materials. They can help your business avoid damage to your belts and supporting equipment.

Another way to minimize your risk of developing issues with your conveyor belts is to purchase only high-quality equipment. That’s what you get when you buy from Senya Crushers. Our DOT-approved mobile MICRO Conveyor Systems can substantially lower your material-handling expenses.