DESPITE conveyors occupying a significant component of materials handling duties in many engineering-related industries, some operators seem to lack understanding on how to optimise the operation of these systems to lower operating costs.
Although valuable hours are often spent on routine inspection of conveyor systems, sometimes the most insidious and damaging problem of all can be overlooked.
A fine black dust located around a conveyor roller is evidence of seizing, leading to abrasion of the bottom cover of the belt with each cycle.
In some plants the belt is treated as the most sacrificial component of a conveyor system, yet it is by far the most expensive part, according to Neil Kinder, managing director of materials handling products supplier, Kinder & Co .
"Quite commonly, a conveyor belt can cost hundreds of dollars a metre and amazingly little action is taken to reduce the incidence of the problem," said Mr Kinder.
"Commonly, roller seizure - especially on the return roller or the centre roller - can be missed by routine inspection.
"And with conventional steel rollers being the established standard, these are very common and perform well if they are rotating properly.
"But if they lock up and seize, very quickly they are transformed into what can be best described as a 'knife-edge' or 'circular saw' when the roller collapses and allows the end disc to part from its shell.
"Generally, poor belt tracking will be associated with the problem of jammed and seized rollers. It takes careful observation to pick up the symptoms which include the 'tell tale' black dust or exposed ply in the bottom cover of the belt."
As conveyor rollers play an important roll in the system, correct travel and load support are reliant upon this basic piece of hardware. Successful operators limiting their repair costs recognise the value in using 'belt friendly' equipment.
Kinder & Co's K-Polymer rollers are gaining wide acceptance, within the bulk processing industries with operators stating they are 'belt friendly' compared to the traditional steel shell roller.
If by chance a unit seizes, it will not produce the same damaging results as it is made from plastic.
If - as is the case in many engineering installations - the rollers are out of view or in an inaccessible place, at least these afford peace of mind because of the minimal abrasive effect on the belt cover should they seize.
Wear and tear is always an issue with conveyor systems, but considering the investment in the belt it is little surprise some operators are up to speed and are replacing steel rollers with the K-Polymer an interchangeable equivalent product.