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Undersized Pulley Diameters: A Hidden Threat to Conveyor Belt Performance
Conveyor belts are vital in fields like mining, agriculture, manufacturing, and logistics, because they make moving things and materials quick and easy. It is very important to think about the dimensions and features of these belts' pulleys to get the best performance and life from the conveyor system. A pulley width that is too small may not seem like a big deal, but it can have a big effect on how well and safely the conveyor system works as a whole.
When issues arise in the field, one of the first questions our teams ask is “what size are the pulleys?”.
Pulleys can be some of the most critical and expensive components in the conveyor structure, and can sometimes be supplied at minimum service levels, or even undersized for the application.
Negative Impact of Incorrect Pulley Sizes
Undersized pulleys can negatively impact fabricated belts causing profiles to lift and separate. When considering pulley size, it is important that the largest minimum is followed.
For example, if a sidewall belt that features:
- Cross Rigid base belt- recommended pulley: 8”
- 2-part abrasion resistant S Cleat-recommended pulley: 14”
- Fabric reinforced sidewall- recommended pulley: 12”
The minimum pulley for the fabricated sidewall belt would be 14” satisfying the largest minimum of the cleats.
Pulleys that are undersized can cause vulcanized profiles to lift as well. Repeatedly negotiating a pulley that is not recommended for the profiles can break the bond line causing the profile to separate from the belt, damaging the belt and contaminating product.
Even belts that are not fabricated can suffer shortened life due to the small pulleys. The additional stress on the belt covers, plies and skim material can cause surface cracks and ply separation, resulting in more frequent replacement and downtime.
Increased Belt Tension and Stress
In a conveyor system, pulley that is too small limits the area where the belt can touch the pulley. Because the load is spread over a smaller area, the belt is under more strain and stress. This high tension can cause the belt to wear out faster, which lowers its lifespan and raises the cost of upkeep. The belt can also slip or jump off the pulley if there is too much force on it, which can stop production and cause downtime.
Reduced Conveyor Belt Lifespan
When pulleys are too small, they cause more strain and stress, which makes the conveyor belt bend and stretch more. This constant stress speeds up wear and weariness, which shortens the belt's useful life. It can be expensive and time-consuming to replace belts all the time, which can hurt total productivity and profits.
Decreased Conveyor Efficiency
Undersized pulley sizes can make the conveyor system work less well. Because the belt and pulley have less surface area to touch, more energy is lost through friction. The motor needs to use more energy because it has to work harder to get past this extra resistance. As a result, the system's operating prices go up and its energy efficiency goes down.
Elevated Operating Temperatures
Because there is more friction between the belt and the small pulley, the temperature rises a lot where the belt meets the pulley. When temps get too high, the material of the belt can break down, making it less stable and speeding up wear. Also, high temperatures can damage the glue used to make the belt, which can cause it to delaminate and eventually break.
Using pulley sizes that are too small can put workers in danger. As the stress on the belt rises, there is a greater chance that it will slip or even break without warning, which could lead to accidents or injuries. Also, too much belt wear can cause trash and other things to build up on the conveyor, which can cause it to get stuck and cause accidents.
Increased Downtime and Maintenance Costs
Because of the shorter belt life and safety concerns, it may be necessary to do regular maintenance and take time off without planning to fix or replace broken parts. Businesses can lose money when these unplanned stops happen because they can throw off production schedules.
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