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Bucket Elevators: More Uptime, More Profits!

January 6, 2022

The costs for maintaining conveying equipment can be significant – for example, CEMA (Conveyor Equipment Manufacturers Association) estimates that one-year maintenance costs for a belt conveyor is 5 percent of the purchase cost of the belt, and 2 percent of the purchase cost of the structure and equipment. To these costs must be added the costs of downtime and lost throughput. Because downtime costs are often much more than the maintenance costs, reducing the occurrence of downtime on a bucket elevator is therefore critical to reducing costs and delivering higher profits.
A simple way to think of the cost of equipment downtime is to consider “outage costs”. When a bucket elevator goes down, there are both labour costs and lost revenues to consider. A simple way to calculate outage costs is through the following formula:

Outage costs = [Employee costs per hour * Fraction of employees affected] + [Average revenue per hour * Fraction of revenue affected]

This simple formula provides a quick and easy way to calculate the costs of equipment downtime on the bucket elevator.


The following are the leading reasons why downtime is incurred on bucket elevators:

  • Damaged components and parts. Unplanned downtime can result when elevator components and parts wear or become damaged.
  • Spillage. Spillage of product from the elevator can cause material to accumulate within the conveyor housing or on parts, affecting operation. Unnecessary spillage of abrasive materials can accelerate the wear of belt assembly components and parts, while accumulation of spilled material may require stoppage of the unit to effect cleanout.
  • Carryback. Similar to spillage, carryback of product from buckets which did not completely discharge their contents can cause material deposition and accumulation. Downtime results from prematurely worn parts or the need for machine cleanout.
  • Mistracking of the belt assembly. Belt assembly mistracking can accelerate wear on bucket assembly parts and components, causing failure and downtime.


Performing frequent equipment inspections can detect abnormal wear and parts which are either damaged or about fail. A well-rounded maintenance plan for a bucket elevator combines both time-based and condition-based maintenance activities to detect the presence of damaged or worn components and parts.

While a sound maintenance plan is an essential part of reducing equipment downtime, at UniTrak we also believe that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. That’s why every TipTrakTM bucket elevator we supply is designed to address the top causes of downtime. Consider these important features of TipTrakTMbucket conveyors:

  • Spillage-free product handling. All TipTrakTM bucket elevators feature a fully interlocking bucket assembly which eliminates product spillage as the material moves through the conveyor.
  • High-quality components and parts. All TipTrakTM components and parts are made from the highest quality materials, providing years of reliable service.
  • Zero carryback. When handling difficult-to-discharge materials, TipTrakTM elevators can be fitted with optional discharge assist devices to ensure the complete emptying of buckets.
  • Mistracking prevention. TipTrakTM drive assemblies incorporate pulleys and drive belts with design features to prevent mistracking.

If you are looking to purchase a bucket elevator that is designed to minimize the occurrence of equipment downtime, then TipTrakTM bucket elevators are your equipment of choice. To find out more about how TipTrakTM elevators can service your application, please contact our sales department.

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UniTrak Corporation Limited

299 Ward Street
Port Hope, ON
L1A 4A4 Canada


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