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.