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Condition Monitoring in Continuous Bucket Elevators

May 22, 2018

Continuous bucket elevators are a proven and economical means of elevating powders and bulk solid materials. Many facilities rely on these workhorse units to keep their product moving and generate revenue. In the past, condition monitoring in continuous bucket elevators has consisted mainly of routine inspections to determine the condition of critical moving parts. Now, with the advent of remote sensing and monitoring devices, users can protect their throughput by having an alarm generated and/or the elevator automatically shut down when an adverse condition is detected. In addition, remote sensing devices can provide feedback on equipment condition that can help to schedule maintenance interventions or part replacements.

This blog looks at some of the remote sensing products that are available for condition monitoring in continuous bucket elevators. In many cases, OEM’s can install these types of sensing devices onto new units or arrange for the retrofit of previously installed equipment. Remote sensing devices can be an important part of a predictive maintenance program that is aimed at detecting abnormal conditions which, if left unchecked, could lead to unplanned equipment downtime.

Condition monitoring in continuous bucket elevators: key machine functions

  • Bearing temperature monitoring. Bearing temperature sensors can be installed onto the elevator bearing housing to monitor the temperature and shut the elevator down when a bearing over-temperature condition is detected. Dust- and ignition-proof sensors are available for explosive applications.
  • Belt/chain alignment monitoring. Misaligned drive chains, belts or pulleys can be a significant cause of bucket elevator downtime. Belts or chains which mistrack will wear prematurely or, if left unchecked, cause a machine jam with damage to buckets and drive assembly components as well as frame members. Remote sensors can detect misaligned belts, chains or pulleys, and signal the need for a maintenance intervention.
  • Belt/chain slippage monitoring. Drive chains or belts which slip can reduce equipment performance and throughput. Detecting slippage of the drive belt or chain through remote sensing can prevent damage to the belt or chain as the condition persists or worsens. Sensors are also available which can detect the breakage of chains on elevators which use metal chains in their drive systems.
  • Shaft speed monitoring. Monitoring the drive shaft rpm can detect over-or under-speed conditions. Speed switches are available which provide alarm and shutdown signals in the event of underspeed or stopped motion conditions.
  • Plug or blockage indicators/sensors. These are used to detect choked or plugged situations of bulk granular solids in the vertical leg of a bucket elevator. Alarm or shutdown signals can be triggered when a plugged or blocked condition is detected.

UniTrak designs and manufactures the TipTrak™ line of continuous bucket elevators. These elevators feature fully interlocking buckets which provide spillage-free operation and gentle handling. They are available in a range of constructions and capacities. Condition sensing options are available. For more information on TipTrak™ bucket elevators, please contact our sales team.

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