Simple Cleaning Keeps Power Conveyors Running Efficiently
Unless packaging occurs in a vacuum or a high-quality clean room, most environments will include normal or higher levels of dust and other debris found in any building. Over time, the buildup of such debris can have a negative effect on the efficiency and overall performance of a power conveyor system. Fortunately, very little effort is required to fight these detrimental effects.
Power conveyors can be used for a number of different packaging tasks, from loading bottles and other containers to transferring containers from one packaging machine to another and even accumulating bottles for packing and other shipping preparation. The simple truth is, if the efficiency of the power conveyor system is compromised, the efficiency of the entire packaging system is compromised. For this reason, Liquid Packaging Solutions always suggests setting a time to wipe down conveyors systems, check collection areas and remove any built-up debris.
While conveyors are usually in constant motion during the production day, collection areas can gather debris throughout the day. These areas may vary from system to system, but typically debris will build up by belt return areas, by the sprockets and at transfer plates. A quick wipe down of the conveyor belt will remove debris that has built on the belt itself, while an examination of these collection areas allows an operator to remove debris when necessary.
Belt return points may cause dust and debris to collect as the conveyor rolls under for return to the actual transfer of product. Most conveyors will use sprockets at the end of the conveyor section to keep the conveyor belt in line, along with wear strips to keep containers stabilized and movement consistent. Transfer plates are used to connect two conveyors when long or large conveyors systems are engineered to move product through a packaging system. Each of these components can collect debris over time, which in turn can cause issues such as scratched, broken or otherwise worn conveyor belt or worn or broken sprockets. In these cases, not only will conveyor motors have to work harder to keep the conveyor moving, but inconsistent speed or performance by the conveyor can cause other machinery to malfunction as well.
For instance, if conveyor speed is affected by debris build up, bottles may not move through a spindle capping machine at a consistent speed. In turn, the spindle capper may start to miss caps, cross-thread caps or a packager may find loose caps throughout the production day. However, as noted above, issues stemming from debris build up on conveyors can be avoided by simply wiping down the conveyor belt and cleaning collection points when necessary.
The frequency of such cleaning will depend in part on the environment in which the packaging takes place. If processing, packaging and other activities create excessive amounts of dust, cleaning the conveyors on a daily basis at the end of the production day may be warranted. In cleaner environments where dust and debris are at a minimum, cleaning may take place at the end of the work week. Keeping an eye on the collection points and cleaning when necessary will help a packager determine how often such maintenance is necessary. But cleaning too often is much better than not cleaning enough, in order to avoid downtime, excessive wear and component replacement on the entire packaging line.