The best conveyor for a given operation depends upon the application, material type, temperature, weight, plant atmosphere and more. All of this creates a dynamic set of application criteria that stamping conveyors must be engineered to handle. In fact, multiple conveyor types often are used in combination to accomplish production goals.
One of the most important considerations: How will the material be introduced to the system? The impact of dropping material from considerable heights can damage the conveyor belt. Doing so also can cause the material to bounce on the belt and work its way inside of the conveyor, damaging internal mechanics. Impact plates, load shoes and a load bar often are necessary to prevent such damage. Also, centering payloads helps to prevent material from entering the inside of the frame.
Avoid surge loading. The best method to prevent this: interlocking the conveyor into the equipment that is feeding the conveyor. Heavy loads present another challenge. Take care to ensure that the conveyor’s pitch sufficiently can handle the weight and bulk density of the material—a must for steel-belt and pivot-belt conveyors. Occasionally, loads exceed a conveyor’s capacity, which can strain motors. To help prevent equipment damage, select conveyors with torque-limiting protection that automatically shuts the conveyors down when load exceeds capacity, avoiding damage to the conveyor.
When it comes to material movement, abrasive materials can decrease the life span of some conveyor wear surfaces. Additionally, leakproof construction will be necessary for retaining cutting fluids.
Critically important, the conveyor must be engineered to provide a clean discharge of material to avoid carryover that can require maintenance to correct. For conveyors transferring metal scrap, even distribution of the scrap into storage containers helps prevent pockets of unused space inside of the container. During loadout, this helps to ensure the maximum amount of metal scrap hauled away in each container.
When integrating conveyors with other equipment, especially an automated production line, controls become critically important. The program must be able to handle all outcomes present within the integrated automated system.
Control systems programmed to monitor conveyor performance enable operators to time preventive maintenance to minimize the impact on production. They also can provide maintenance-schedule alerts. Remote-monitoring systems can warn maintenance staff of a potential issue without requiring the physical presence of staff at the machine.
Although controls help prevent labor-intensive unplanned maintenance, this doesn’t mean that controls make the conveyors “hands-off.” All operators must understand how the conveyor system will interact within an automated system, as well as startup and shutdown procedures.
Although the frequency of maintenance and inspections depends on run time, expect the need for routine conveyor upkeep. This includes lubrication of bearings and rollers with an advanced lubricant, and inspection of belts for wear and slack.
Making maintenance easier saves time. To help, ensure installation of access panels in key areas of the conveyor, such as points that may be susceptible to jams. Also, removable guarding can help operators more quickly complete maintenance. Additionally, certain conveyor options, including the following, can help operations automate routine maintenance:
- Automatic-lubrication systems supply a small amount of clean grease or oil to conveyor bearings to ensure consistent lubrication, thus improving bearing performance and eliminating the need for personnel to manually lubricate bearings.
- Automatic takeup systems monitor tension using load cells on chain conveyors and tighten belts, thus eliminating manual adjustments and downtime. Automatic adjustments can be scheduled to be completed during low production times or shift changes.
Remember that when it comes to efficiency, conveyors are vital assets. Installing the right conveyor—or combination of conveyors—can raise productivity, improve workplace safety and decrease downtime. Metal formers that invest the time upfront to carefully select conveyors will position their operations for sustainable improvements for years to come. MF
See also: PRAB, Inc.
Technologies: Pressroom Automation
Parts and Scrap Removal, and Lubrication Innovations
Tuesday, June 20, 2023