Conveyor belt tracking is a frequent and sometimes overlooked concern in all bulk material handling operations. As the belt gradually becomes misaligned or "wanders" off the track, the effects become severely costly to overall production, safety, and cleanliness. Improper tracking can lead to product spillage and unnecessary wear and tear on the conveyor system. However, when the belt correctly tracks under all conditions (wet, dry, full, empty, etc.), you can increase the conveyor belt life up to 300%, decrease product loss, reduce manpower and downtime for conveyor belt maintenance. There are many components to be looked at when trying to identify conveyor belt tracking issues. Here are the top 3 causes of conveyor belts mistracking:
1. UNEVEN TENSION
What is causing your belt to have uneven tension?
- Product build-up on rollers or slider bed
- Out-of-square belt splice
- Uneven heating up or cooling down in ovens or dryers
- Uneven product loading
- Skewed roller or nose bars
- Out-of-squares or bent conveyor frame
- Uneven belt tension device
2. PRODUCT SIDE LOADING OR UNLOADING
When the product being conveyed is loaded or unloaded from the side of the belt, the belt gradually wanders to one side of the conveyor. This is common on assembly type conveyors where an assembled product is pushed onto the belt from the side. Another example is on diverting conveyors, where a product is diverted off of the side of the conveyor onto another conveyor. The constant side force, although small, causes the belt to slowly walk to one side of the conveyor. The problem is greatest on slider bed type conveyors.
3. REVERSE DIRECTION
Reversing conveyors, sometimes referred to as Bi-directional conveyors, have a natural tendency to track off. Usually this mis-tracking occurs in the reverse direction. When a conveyor runs in reverse all of the normal characteristics of conveyor design are reversed. The tight side becomes the loose side, the head pulley becomes the tail pulley and in some cases the belt tension is on the wrong side of the drive. All of these along with the characteristics of the conveyor belt contribute to the tracking instability of reversing conveyors.
With over 35 years in the conveyor belt tracking business we have seen numerous issues in all kinds of industries. If you are designing a conveyor or need a solution with tracking your current conveyor system, consult with an Eckels-Bilt engineer today and design a tracker that tracks your system true from the start. Eckels-Bilt keeps you on track, literally.