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19 Aug 2013, 13:55

Six tips to shrink the downtime of your conveyor system to a minimum

Within a period of a challenging economy and shrinking capital budgets, many companies are faced with the challenge of keeping aging conveyor systems up and running even though they would ordinarily prefer to replace them completely. For those who do not have the luxury of upgrading to a brand new, state-of-the-art system here are a few conveyor system maintenance tips to keep those belts a-turning.

Tip 1: Do not underestimate the importance of having a maintenance engineer

One of the biggest mistakes companies do is either not hire a maintenance engineer or underpay one. A good engineer will be able to correct small problems before they become big ones. The question you have to ask yourself is how you want to spend your money. Would you rather spend it on lost sales and unhappy customers when your system goes down and you can’t get the product out the door, or on a great maintenance technician?

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Tip 2: Take special care of critical and long lead time spare parts

Please always bear in mind that depending on which part fails, a breakdown can halt production for a long time. Run for long periods without replacing a failed part, serious damage could be inflicted on other parts of the system. Therefore specialists recommend keeping safety stock of all critical and long lead time parts of a system. If this is not possible a reliable distributor like RS Components with a wide range of products and brands can help to avoid longer system downtimes via their fast deliver service around the globe. 

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 Found out more about the products and services RS provides for your motion control application

Tip 3: Established preventive maintenance procedures

If you only plan to fix stuff when it breaks, you’re going to be very busy with fixing stuff. Mechanical and electrical equipment – including conveyors, sensors and motors – must be maintained. Different parts of a system require different levels of preventive care. It’s no different than your car. Follow the recommended service schedule, and it will run a very long time. Don’t perform service on the car, and you’ll constantly be sitting on the side of the road. We recommend that the maintenance engineer and the operating personnel develop a preventive maintenance plan. By following this, you will ensure yourself maximum system up-time.

Tip 4:  Regular system audits and documentation

It is important to continually inspect your conveyor system to ensure it is running smoothly. In a lot of cases you can hear or smell a small problem long before it becomes a big one. Unfortunately, those who are around the system every day have a hard time telling when something fails slowly over time. A well-educated maintenance engineer would be able to help by performing regular system audits. Inspecting the entire system from infeed to discharge can help to ensure it is not headed towards a catastrophic failure.


 

 

Tip 5: Stay current with obsolete parts used in your system

As mentioned above sometimes money prohibits replacing an entire system. However, it’s important to stay current on which components and parts within your system are obsolete and no longer being manufactured. Knowing this can help you to make wise business decisions. For example, if you would know a particular part is no longer being manufactured, you may determine it would be more financially prudent to stock additional spare parts for this piece or replace it with a newer version. RS Components is working close with the suppliers which allow us to still offer components which are already phased out by the manufacturer. In addition we highlight possible replacements of obsolete parts on our websites. This supports our customers by having a smooth transition to the new equivalent which often provides improved performance and features.

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Tip 6: Be clever and repair wisely

Maintaining a large system can be overwhelming. It is important that we think of needed repairs in terms of time. For example, if a bearing goes out in a center drive, the cost effective thing to do would be to replace the bearing only. However, the intelligent thing to do would be to replace both bearings and possibly the pulley. Taking the drive section apart takes time, usually a lot more time than actually changing out the components. It’s important to fix things intelligently.

Maintaining a conveyor system can be a frustrating job. We hope that considering the above may help to extend the life of your conveyor system well beyond what the manufacturer claims.

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19 Aug 2013, 13:55