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Belt Conveyor Maintenance Inspection

“Walking the Belt” for Routine Inspection

In its most typical usage, “walking the belt” is a routine inspection and service opportunity of the conveyor(s) in a given operation. The belt inspector – the plant’s belt person, or “belt boss” – walks the system: inspecting its operation, performing minor adjustments or cleaning activities and noting more significant conditions or problems for later attention.

The belt walker should take notes of the problems observed: “The center roller on idler number 127 on Conveyor B is not turning,” for example, or “There is a lot of spillage at the tail of Conveyor 3.” It is better to make notes as the problem is seen, rather than waiting until the inspector is finished with a particular conveyor, or even when back in the maintenance room.

A regular walk of the conveyor belt(s) is an effective way to assess the system, catalog its components, and identify areas that need service or that offer opportunities for improved efficiency.

Information can be recorded on a pad of paper or a personal digital assistant (PDA) or smartphone. A conventional cell phone can be used to call the conveyor’s inspector’s own voice mail to record things noticed on the walk, especially those things that might be forgotten by the time the inspector returns to the office to be bombarded with other daily details. A digital camera – or cell phone – will allow the inspector to take photos of problems. These photos will let the belt inspector send the images of the problem to others for evaluation.

Standing in One Place

Standing still while walking the conveyor is not the oxymoron it might seem. It is important for the conveyor inspector to observe the running of the belt as it completes at least one revolution of the structure. This will let the inspector study the condition of the beltthe edges, the splice(s), the top cover where it passes under the skirtboard, the tracking – to note any problems. The belt surveyor can also check to see if the belt is centered- when it is both loaded and unloaded.

When to Stop the Conveyor – NOW!

There may come a time when the inspector sees something that poses so much risk to the belt, to the conveyor or to plant personnel that the belt must be stopped immediate. The problem might be a piece of tramp iron or sharp lump of material lodged into the structure where it could slash the belt. Or it might be an overheating idler, smoldering material buildup, or other condition that could lead to a fire. The belt walker – and the rest of the plant’s operating and maintenance crew and management staff – must understand that the essential mission is to ensure safety and preserve the equipment, even at the expense of an unscheduled outage.

What to look For

It is extremely important that the individual performing the survey has a list of the general components that should be checked during ever “walking the belt” conveyor inspection. This guide can be used as a checklist for the worker to complete the inspection.

The maintenance recommendations of the manufacturer for various components and subsystems (such as samplers, scales, metal detectors, and magnets) should be added to each plant’s specific checklist.

Topics: Belt Conveyor System Maintenance

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