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 saddleand 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.