Most manufacturing and distribution warehouses rely on conveyor systems to keep their daily
operations running. However, when
conveyor systems experience unplanned
downtime, costs add up quickly, especially
during peak seasons. If one minute of
downtime stops 350 cases from going
out, and a case is worth $40, then a single
minute of downtime could cost a company
$14,000 in lost opportunities.
Fortunately, well-trained operators and
maintenance technicians can reduce the
risk of conveyor downtime by executing a
preventive maintenance plan. In addition to
avoiding the stress of missed shipment dead-
lines and lost profits, preventive maintenance
keeps conveyors running at peak efficiency,
extends system lifecycle, and eliminates the
cost of expediting replacement parts.
Inspect equipment with a daily
“walk, look, and listen” protocol
A good preventive maintenance (PM)
plan doesn’t need to be expensive or time
consuming. In fact, a daily floor walk is one
of the best techniques for checking a system’s health. Small, easily observed clues
such as oil drippings, belt shavings, and
unusual noise can indicate a worn or failing
part. Keep your operation clean and alternate PM technicians on a quarterly rotation
to ensure fresh eyes that won’t overlook
any warning signs. Here’s what technicians
should look for on their daily walk:
• Litter. Look for signs
of dust, liquid, or
wear, misalignment, or
oil leaks. When
the conveyor is
offline, remove any
dust, debris, or dirt
from conveyor surfaces. It
will be easier to notice these signs if
the operation is kept clean.
• Noise. Listen for unusual noise while
the conveyor is running, that may indicate a failed bearing or drive, or mis-aligned sprocket or belt.
• Safety equipment. Keep sufficient
guarding in place using visual cues and
color indicators. Position guardrails to
protect conveyors from moving equipment within the facility.
• Loads. Do not overload conveyors.
Confirm that conveyors only transporting packages defined as conveyable by
your OEM or vendor.
• Operators. Ensure equipment regulations and safety procedures are
followed properly. If equipment is
misused or safety hazards are identified, consider implementing a refresh-er-training course.
As techs make their daily facility walk-through, be sure they document
and report what they observe
and keep detailed records of
equipment repairs, replacement parts, and maintenance
activities. Accurate records are
invaluable in determining when
to replace parts and assist with
warranty and manufacturer
support. Maintenance teams
should also perform more comprehensive system checks both
quarterly and annually.
Involve system operators
While the main focus of a PM plan is on
the work of maintenance crews, a certain
amount of responsibility for equipment
care and management falls on system operators. To recruit operators into a PM program, follow these best-practice tips from
our maintenance experts.
• Train. Operators can cause problems
if they aren’t fully trained in conveyor
operation or safety compliances. By
training operators, you not only ensure
that equipment is used properly, you
also increase the number of eyes and
ears capable of noticing discreet clues
that indicate a problem.
• Communicate. Talk to operators daily
to see if anything out of the ordinary is
happening with your system. Ask about
any package or throughput changes,
particularly during peak season.
• Slow down. When possible, operators
should run conveyor systems as slow
as throughput requirements allow.
Constantly operating at full speed can
result in premature equipment wear.
• Report damage immediately. Many
times, maintenance is not notified until
a system component is completely broken and the operation is compromised.
• Plan for emergencies and breakdowns. Practice a contingency plan so
everyone is well prepared in case of a
conveyor breakdown or loss of power.
eyor Maintain Your Conv
System Like A Pro
Diane Blair, Director, International Services, Intelligrated