Like any other equipment, sanitary belt conveyors require regular preventive maintenance (PM) activities to ensure uptime, availability and long equipment life. A key component of belt maintenance is regular visual inspections. Regular visual inspection of sanitary conveyor belts can identify issues and problems with the belt, avoiding unplanned downtime and stoppages and prevent damage from spreading to other parts of the conveyor. In this blog we offer some helpful tips for performing visual inspections on sanitary conveyor belts.
A belt visual inspection begins by looking to see if the belt is complete and if any surfaces are damaged, cracked, chipped, or gouged. Any joints in the belt should also be examined to determine that they are not separating or damaged. If the belt has cleats or sidewalls, these should be examined for signs of damage or wear and tear. The visual inspection should be extended to include the belt bed as well as drive rollers, pulleys, spindles and bearings, looking for worn or missing parts.
Belts should be centered and aligned and not mis-tracking on the unit. Misaligned belts will be subject to accelerated wear, as well as reducing overall operating efficiency and possibly damaging other components of the conveyor. The visual inspection should also check the drive and guide components are properly installed and aligned.
A good visual inspection goes beyond merely examining a static belt to evaluating how the belt performs under load. A running belt may perform quite differently once a load is applied – the belt may mis-track, causing it to rub or abrade against other machine components. A loaded belt may also slip, causing accelerated wear and tear and reducing throughput.
Sanitary belt conveyors used in food processing, pharmaceutical or other hygienic applications must be clean and free from pathogens and allergens. A visual inspection should look for signs of buildup on a belt, or the conditions which could entrap debris which could lead to the accumulation of contaminants. It is always a good idea to perform a visual inspection of a belt when the belt is being cleaned – this is the best time to identify signs of wear and tear that could trap harmful pathogens.
The frequency with which visual inspections are carried out depends on a number of factors, including the frequency of operation (continuous or intermittent), the type of product being moved, the amount of load being carried, the cleaning regimen and chemicals used, and the operating environment, including the presence of temperature extremes, hot or cold. Frequent inspections at shorter intervals of time between inspections is preferable to inspections which are infrequent or haphazard.
UniTrak manufactures the KleanTrak sanitary belt conveyor. The KleanTrak conveyor is a cleated belt conveyor specifically designed for applications where hygienic performance is a key requirement. This sanitary conveyor will support applications in the food, confectionary, coffee and tea, pharmaceutical and nutraceutical industries. To find out more about KleanTrak sanitary belt conveyors from UniTrak, please contact the UniTrak sales team.