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Aeromechanical conveyors: Reducing rope and disc downtime

April 19, 2021

As a general rule with all things mechanical, the fewer moving parts you have, the less problems you’ll have to manage.

UniTrak’s Powderflight aeromechanical conveyors are designed and built with a limited number of moving parts to minimize maintenance-related downtime. That said, even the best quality parts will fail eventually. This is particularly true when it comes to rope and disc assemblies due to the constant strain they often endure in heavier applications.

While some people believe in the mantra, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” this isn’t always sound advice. This is especially true when it comes to preventative maintenance plans.

Regular service intervals for the replacement of rope and disc assemblies are strongly recommended. These parts inevitably lose their strength and flexibility from constant use. Regularly scheduled replacements will allow you to plan your maintenance and significantly reduce the chance of costly downtime.

Here are seven areas to focus on for keeping your aeromechanical conveyor rope assemblies in tip-top shape:

  • Start-stops: Prevent shock load from start-stops by ramping up your speed slowly over a few seconds. This will prevent the high torque ‘snatch’ on the rope during startup. We recommend installing a soft-start for this purpose.
  • Start empty, finish empty: Don’t leave material sitting in the conveyor between shifts or stops. The extra torque required to accelerate the latent material will create additional strain on the rope.
  • Bag dumping (sack tipping): Higher bulk density products, like cement, shouldn’t be dumped quickly onto the conveyor in large quantities. If possible, create a steady stream of product that the conveyor can collect and take away. This will reduce the level of strain on the rope.
  • Fixed or constant speed: Aeromechanical conveyors are not designed to have the speed changed. They are designed to run at a specified speed for optimum conveying efficiency and service life.
  • Foreign objects: A less common issue that occurs from time to time is random objects falling into the conveyor. Ensure that the potential for foreign objects falling into the conveyor is kept to a minimum.
  • Tension: Since the rope is not designed to take a great deal of strain, it is vital to ensure it is tensioned correctly. Too tight and it will experience significant wear and potentially fail prematurely. Too loose and you risk having the rope come off the sprockets and cause a derailment.
  • New ropes: Whenever a rope is replaced, it is important to inspect the new rope after its first eight hours of operation. This is done to check the tension and make any small adjustments it might require before allowing it to run for longer durations between maintenance checks.

While all of these tips will help reduce premature rope failures, there’s one more important tip to note: know your products/application.

 The typical lifespan of a rope and disc assembly can range from 1,500 to 3,000 hours of operation. When scheduling your preventative maintenance and rope and disc replacements, make sure to keep the products you’re working with in mind.

Want to learn more about UniTrak’s aeromechanical conveyors? Check out our products here.

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