4 Ways to Reduce the Downtime of Your Conveyor System

Introduction to Conveyor System Downtime

In the world of material handling and transportation, few systems are as useful and versatile as conveyor systems. They can be upgraded to support different loads, gradients, directions and much more. With so much reliance on the conveyors, any organization fears a major breakdown or repair of this system, resulting in significant downtime.

Impact of Downtime on Production and Costs

A significant downtime of a conveyor system has a multifold impact on production and cost of operation:

– A shutdown of the conveyor system or even a part of the conveyor results in a major reduction in productivity, as the overall throughput will be evidently reduced.

– To account for this loss of productivity, companies will have to compensate in other ways. This will inadvertently drive up production costs for a brief period.

– Furthermore, replacing and repairing the malfunctioning section is an added expense in itself. Therefore, it further drives up the cost of operation.

As is evident, reducing this downtime is paramount. Here are 4 ways this can be achieved.

4 Ways to Reduce the Downtime of Your Conveyor System

1. Regular Maintenance Practices

The best way to prevent any significant downtime in a conveyor system is to invest more in maintenance. The cost of repair and replacement is always more significant than the cost of maintaining a robust conveyor system. There are two fundamental ways to carry out maintenance diagnostics for such a system:

  • Scheduled Inspections and Servicing

Since a conveyor system has numerous moving parts, keeping track of their condition at all times is a challenge. To address this, companies go for scheduled inspection and servicing protocols. Each section of the conveyor is scheduled for regular inspection on different days of the month so that all bases are covered. Furthermore, certain aspects of the conveyor system that require servicing must also be scheduled at regular intervals for best results. However, if the workload is too intensive and it is hard to schedule regular maintenance, one should go for a high-quality conveyor system so that instances of breakdowns and maintenance can be reduced.

  • Lubrication and Component Checks

A smaller but critical aspect of scheduled maintenance includes lubrication and checks of smaller components such as roller and frame alignment, belt tension, and more. In terms of lubrication, bearing lubrication is a small but very important part of running a smooth and optimal conveyor system. Therefore, these aspects also need to be considered during scheduled maintenance and servicing to avoid any major problems in the future. Of course, there are numerous other methods that can be implemented, which will be discussed in the subsequent sections.

2. Implementing Advanced Monitoring Systems

As mentioned in the section above, monitoring all parameters of a conveyor system can be a challenge. However, it is totally possible with the advanced technologies available today. Here’s a brief look at the benefits of real-time monitoring and some predictive maintenance technologies that can be implemented on any conveyor system.

  • Benefits of Real-Time Monitoring

Monitoring systems have a direct impact on the reduction of downtime within a conveyor system. This is because it enables manufacturers to observe any problems in real-time and address them right away before it becomes an issue. Furthermore, they also offer valuable feedback on certain parts of the conveyor that can be improved upon, leading to an increase in optimal performance and longevity.

  • Predictive Maintenance Technologies

Modern conveyor systems can be integrated with predictive maintenance technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning. This software, when combined with sensors, offers real-time updates to the operator about the condition of the conveyor. Therefore, if the sensors detect any malfunction such as an increase in temperature or erratic movements, it can be addressed immediately. It also provides data on previous breakdowns so one can preemptively prevent any such malfunctions or repairs in the future. These advanced diagnostics can also be combined with technologies such as a scan tunnel that helps in sorting and organizing goods transported on a conveyor. 

3. Staff Training and Awareness

Although modern technology and scheduled maintenance can help reduce downtime to a large degree, there is always some reliance on manual intervention for smooth functioning. Unfortunately, this also means that there are bound to be some errors while operating a conveyor system. This is why it is fundamental to train the staff appropriately.

Importance of Proper Training

Proper training in basic maintenance as well as other diagnostic protocols is key for smooth conveyor operation. Not only will it drive down instances of human error that contribute towards more downtime, but it can also make the staff and technicians more well-versed with handling complex tools and technology. The end result is a marked increase in productivity, a significant reduction in breakdowns and an improvement in cost-effective operation in the long run.

Developing a Preventive Maintenance Culture

Training staff on basics such as safety protocols, troubleshooting instructions and operations also helps create a culture of preventive maintenance within the workplace. This means the staff is on the lookout for potential causes of conveyor system breakdown. Therefore, even if the advanced technology and sensors fail in some instances, proper training can account for it. This investment in time and resources will pay a lot of dividends over a long enough timeline.

4. Upgrading and Replacing Equipment

When to Upgrade Your Conveyor System

Lastly, all businesses will grow if they function optimally. This means the overall throughput expected off a conveyor can also increase. However, if the conveyor system is not capable of handling this new load, then it can lead to increased instances of breakdown as well, in spite of proper maintenance, use of technology and appropriate training. In such cases, it is best to upgrade to a new conveyor system. A similar case can be also made if the company has to scale down operations for some time, but the current conveyor system lacks the facility to adjust its operation according to the new demand.

Evaluating New Technologies and Solutions

Of course, upgrades might become necessary after a period of time. However, it is important to evaluate which upgrades and features are required for a particular application. For instance, if the goods need to be transported in a gradient, one can upgrade a regular incline conveyor with a helix conveyor to save space. Conversely, if there is no requirement to sort products according to various parameters, investing in an accumulating conveyor may not be necessary. At the end of the day, it is the discretion of the company to invest in a new conveyor or technology according to their needs. An expert systems integrator can help them in this endeavour by first understanding their needs before offering solutions that are cost-effective and durable.

Conclusion

To summarize, breakdowns in a conveyor system can seem quite daunting. However, with the right protocols and systems in place in terms of maintenance, new technology, staff training and upgrades, most manufacturing and transportation facilities using conveyor systems can optimize their usage and durability, thereby increasing their productivity and making it even more cost-effective in the long run.