Should you tighten the conveyor belt? Understanding belt tension
The belt on a belted conveyor is essentially the heart of the machine. It must be running for the conveyor to move the product. Just like your heart, you must take care of the conveyor belt to ensure that it stays in top condition and keeps the product moving. This blog will address the importance of proper tension, how to check the belt tension, how to properly tension a conveyor belt, and how to care for a conveyor belt.
Proper belt tension is the lowest tension that will not cause the belt to slip and is required for the conveyor to run smoothly. Without the correct tension, the belt can cause unnecessary wear to the conveyor parts. Both too much or too little tension can damage the conveyor.
Too much tension. A conveyor belt with too much tension can lead to excessive wear on parts such as bearings and shafts. The extra pressure can also cause the pulleys to break and wear down prematurely. Tracking problems can also arise leading to uneven belt wear and, if not addressed, many additional issues with the conveyor.
Too little tension. A belt with not enough tension can cause the belt to slip. The loss of belt tension will cause wear to pulley lagging, improper belt tracking, and premature belt failure.
Checking Belt Tension
The easiest way to check the tension of a conveyor belt is to pay attention to it. You will notice signs if the tension is off. Too much belt tension can cause the belt lacing to pull apart and the edges of the belt will start to cup or curl. A belt with loose tension can become discolored and create belt dusting or a squealing noise because of the slipping.
Tensioning a Belt
If the tension on the conveyor belt needs to be adjusted, start with the conveyor empty of products and tension the belt until it does not slip. Begin to add product and tension the belt as needed until the conveyor will move the heaviest load without the belt slipping. When the belt is no longer slipping, stop the conveyor and place a full product load on it. Restart the conveyor and check for belt slippage. If slippage occurs, repeat as necessary.
Other Belt Care
The easiest way to keep your belt and conveyor running well is to perform routine maintenance. Following the steps below will help increase the life of the belt and reduce the conveyor’s downtime.
Routine inspections. Schedule routine inspections to view the belt running without any loads. Look for rips or tears in the belt. These defects can affect the tension of the belt, potentially damage conveyor parts, and/or damage the product being conveyed. Replace the belt if damaged.
Keep the belt clean. Product spills and other debris can collect on the belt while conveying. Over time, the buildup can cause a reduction in belt tension or damage conveyor parts. Chemical spills can also cause the belt to deteriorate. Periodically clean the belt of debris and when spills occur for longer belt life and to prevent improper tracking of the belt.
Don’t exceed belt’s weight capacity. Conveying items that exceed the belt’s weight limit can put unnecessary stress on the belt and conveyor parts. The increased friction caused by the extra weight results in premature wear of the belt and parts. Monitor product weights to ensure they don’t exceed suggested operating limits.
Following these steps will help keep your conveyor belt running in tip-top shape and in turn lengthen the life of the conveyor.