Logo
Innovative motion control solutions since 1947

Posts tagged: conveyor belt cleaner

Introducing The Industrial Conveyor Belt Cleaner

Industrial conveyor belts are some of the hardest-working devices in America, shipping tons of debris ranging from freshly-dug earth to literal garbage of unknown composition thousands of feet every minute. They suffer from their efforts, too, in a variety of ways. Perhaps most dangerously, sharp items can puncture them upon landing — and if those things are still stuck in the belt when it hits a pulley or a brace, they can lodge and end up ripping a long slice out of the center of the belt, making it nigh unto useless.

 

That’s one of the chief reasons that every wise industrial engineer builds conveyor belt cleaners into every system in his demesnes. Conveyor belt cleaners come in three basic types:

  • Primary Belt Cleaners (also called ‘pre-cleaners’) sit directly opposite the discharge pulley, below the angle of discharge, and ensure that nothing remains on the belt as it ‘rolls over’ and begins its trip back to the impact saddle to receive more load. Primary conveyor belt cleaners can be as simple as a static rubber blade scraping the belt as it travels past or as complex as a whirling array of brushes arranged in nested helixes that constantly turn against the direction of the belt’s travel.
  • Secondary Belt Cleaners sit just back from the discharge pulley, with the belt pulled more tightly over the blade, and again, remove any carryback from the surface of the belt as it makes its return trip. The term ‘secondary’ doesn’t imply that they only work in tandem with a primary cleaner (though they certainly work best in that circumstance); it simply implies that the cleaner doesn’t touch the belt simultaneously with the discharge pulley.
  • Plows rest on the inside of the conveyor belt, preventing the inside of the belt from carrying any spillage back. These are particularly important because debris on the inside of the belt will get jammed in as the belt passes over the pulleys on its way back to the impact saddle, potentially causing much more damage than mere carryback. Generally a single diagonal blade but often seen in chevrons or similar shapes, a plow is virtually mandatory any time you have spillage landing on the inside of the belt.

 

Modern conveyor belt cleaners add years of life to industrial conveyance systems, and many can themselves go for months or even years without any appreciable maintenance needs of their own.

 

Anodized Aluminum Framing for Industrial Applications

It’s been almost a hundred years since aluminum framing revolutionized the world of industrial metal. Since those days, aluminum has allowed new architectural possibilities and industrial functions. At the same time, advanced in coil anodizing have allowed for a wide variety of textures, finishes, and designed that are versatile, functional, and environmentally responsible.

Anodized aluminum can be laser engraved, stamped, roll-formed, perforated, laminated, welded, embossed, silk-screened, and otherwise customized in a mind-boggling variety of ways. Recent breakthroughs in coloring techniques allow aluminum to be created with almost the same variety and richness of color as latex paints. Anodized aluminum appears in roofing, architectural exteriors, doors, window frames, fixtures, and of course in a huge variety of industrial applications.

Why Anodized?
Anodized aluminum is aluminum that has undergone an electrochemical conversion — an electrically charged solution alters the chemical structure of the aluminum. The surface layer of the aluminum is oxidized — which, if it were steel, would mean rusting, but aluminum works quite differently. Aluminum oxide isn’t at all like rust; instead, it’s a hard, protective layer that adheres better to paint or other coatings and can absorb dyes as well.

Industrial Applications
Anodized aluminum is 1/3rd the weight of stainless steel while maintaining the same approximate hardness and resistance to the elements. That makes it absolutely ideal for a huge variety of framework applications. Whether you need a tiny little clip to hold a heat sink onto a microprocessor or you’re building a superstructure that will hold a conveyor belt cleaner under the terminus of an industrial coal conveyor, anodized aluminum framing is always a good choice for the job.

Anodized aluminum is the functional, versatile, and environmentally responsible choice for industrial applications. Strong, corrosion-resistant, and easy to maintain, anodized aluminum does not chip, flake, peel, or lose color. Continuous-coil anodizing technology allows the creation of pieces featuring uniform color, surface and edge consistency, and even colors that imitate natural materials without degrading. Coil anodized aluminum framing can get the job done — all you need to do is figure out what exactly you need and which fabricator is the best one to get your job done right.

Extend Belt Life With Some Basic Maintenance and a Conveyor Belt Cleaner

Conveyor belt life can often be unfortunately shortened by something as simple as a failure to keep the belt clean — and while the people who manufacture the belts are profiting from your loss, it can really hit your bottom line hard. Not only do you have to buy and install a new belt, but your entire process is halted while that happens, costing you days of downtime in addition to the literal cost of the belt.

There are a few different problems that can happen when you don’t maintain your belts. First, small particles can attach themselves to the inside of the belt, getting crushed into it as it passes the pulleys. This causes the belt to get stretched every time that thicker area passes over the pulleys, eventually causing the belt to slip or split at the splice.

Second, larger sharper particles can get wedged into the belt and then catch on an impact saddle or other piece of machinery and begin making a long, continuous scratch in the belt that will eventually cause the belt to split lengthwise.

Finally, particles can get into the pulley mechanism itself and build up, slowly increasing friction and either heating up the pulley or slowing it down — either one of which can result in long-term problems.

Fortunately, all you need is a bit of basic maintenance and a decent conveyor belt cleaner setup to keep your belts lasting for their full lifetimes.

  • First, use a air compressor and blow off the inside edge of the belt a few times a day. It takes only a minute if you have everything set up and in place. Alternately, use a plough scraper or, if you have a grooved belt, a belt brush set up along the inside surface of the belt.
  • Suffice it to say, the outside of the belt deserves the same or better care than the inside; getting the appropriate kind of cleaner set up for the outside surface is critical.
  • Denatured alcohol is a good cleaner for most kinds of conveyor belt. Avoid solvents or harsh cleaners unless they’re specifically intended for your kind of belt: synthetic rubber, PVC, and polyurethane are common materials in conveyor belts and all of them react violently to different cleaners. Contact your belts’ manufacturer if you have any questions.

How an Impact Saddle Works

The conveyor belt revolutionized the mining industry, replacing much more labor-intensive methods of hauling and drastically reducing the cost-per-ton of handling mine output. But everything was not bread and roses at first – quite often, belts were damaged by the tons of jagged debris that fell onto them at whichever spot the belt was being loaded. The material would perforate, slice, and abrade the belt. Occasionally, foreign material – anything from soda cans to roofing nails – would manage to find its way into the output stream, and they could cause serious damage to conveyor belts.

Enter the impact saddle. An impact saddle is a piece of heavy machinery that sits underneath the conveyor belt right where the oncoming mass hits. At first, a different technology called an impact idler was used – but impact idlers had a fatal flaw: they consisted of only three rotating bars, and in the narrow areas where the bars met but the belt flexed into a curve, enough of the belt’s surface area was left unprotected that serious damage occasionally occurred in the idler’s ‘weak zone’.

An impact saddle, on the other hand, is a curved line of rubber-like squares that much more closely – as in, within a quarter-inch of clearance – matches the curve of the conveyor belt itself. Furthermore, the rubber-like squares are set loosely enough in their frame that they can bend and flex to more appropriately support odd impacts or load angles. The Richwood Combi-Pact Saddle, as perhaps the top-of-the-line example, can be bolted into the same anchors that held an impact idler, providing 100% protection for the width of the entire belt without having to strip out the old settings and replace them.

Built on a single-unit steel frame and girded with Ultra-High Molecular Weight polyethylene ‘impact segments’ (rubber-like squares), the Combi-Pact impact saddle is designed to be both mechanically simplistic and utterly effective. Combined with a high-quality conveyor belt cleaner, the impact saddle forms half of a conveyor belt’s best defense against rips, holes, and abrasions. With the impact saddle absorbing potential damage at the impact site and the conveyor belt cleaner insuring that no damaging material ‘rides’ the belt around and gets into the interior belt machinery, your conveyor belts can last decades longer.

Keep Things Moving Along with a Conveyor Belt Cleaner and Impact Saddles

Conveyor belts — serious conveyor belts, not the ones you use at the grocery store — can take a heck of a beating over a pretty short period of time. When you’re pulling cubic tons of ore or coal out of the earth — or “just” moving several hundred thousand pounds of freshly-minted roofing nails out of the foundry and into some cargo trucks — you’ve got belts that have Stonehenge’s weight in sharp, viciously pointy rock and metal dropped on them every hour.

Needless to say, there are some problems that can arise…but for every problem, human ingenuity eventually produces a solution. For conveyor belts, we have the impact saddle and the conveyor belt cleaner.

The Conveyor Belt Cleaner
Conveyor belts all operate the same basic way: you’ve got a long series of rollers with a belt of some usually-rubberlike material running along it. At the end of the series, the belt rolls around the final roller and starts coming back the other way. Usually, this is exactly what you want, but when you get something stuck into the belt, that roll-around sometimes isn’t enough to get the sharp item dislodged from the belt. If it continues along back the way it came, it can get jammed in the machinery along the underside of the belt and — worst case — act like a knife, cutting the belt as the belt continues to rotate past.

Enter the conveyor belt cleaner. These clever contraptions come in a variety of forms, from a simple bulldozer-like blade that scrapes away anything stuck in the belt to a brush or set of rubber ‘wipers’ that spin in the direction opposite the way the conveyor belt is moving. With a conveyor belt cleaner, even if something does get stuck in your belt, you can be assured it’s not going to end up destroying the entire thing.

The Impact Saddle
As you might imagine, the most dangerous place for any conveyor belt is the place where the tons of sharp, pointy material land on it. Typical rollers — generally a set of three bars, one horizontal in the middle and one diagonal on either side — leave gaps where the bars meet that don’t actually support the belt. If a sharp object hits that spot just right (and they will), it’ll pierce the belt and become a problem.

Impact saddles replace the traditional rollers with a U-shaped arrangement of solid rubber ‘bricks’ that the conveyor belt will slide right along. Because they support the entire conveyor belt equally, there are no weak spots where material can break through — saving an extraordinary amount of wear and tear on your belt.

No conveyor belt will last forever — there will always be maintenance costs in the budget — but with some proper prior planning, a conveyor belt cleaner, and impact saddles, you can slash a big chunk off of that maintenance budget and keep your margins high. All it takes is a bit of that human ingenuity.