With many production lines operating 24-hours a day, 7-days a week, plant management needs to ensure that they employ equipment that is up to the task. Continuous bucket elevators for 24/7 operation requires equipment that is engineered, built and maintained to support this demanding level of service.
Continuous bucket elevators for 24/7 operation: challenges
While continuous bucket elevators operate at a slower speed than their centrifugal discharge counterparts, 24/7 operation imposes many challenges on the equipment. These include the following:
- Accelerated wear of drive assembly components. 24/7 service means drive assembly components such as chains and belts, buckets and mounting hardware, and drive motors are subject to longer running times and increased wear and tear.
- Increased stress on frame components. Longer running times mean additional stresses on conveyor frames and assemblies.
- Less planned maintenance. In some environments, 24/7 operation is achieved by sacrificing some planned maintenance activities. This can lead to equipment parts being used beyond their recommended maintenance interval or life expectancy, increasing the risk of failure and unplanned downtime.
Continuous bucket elevators for 24/7 operation: solutions
Increasing the service life of a bucket elevator used in 24/7 operations involves choosing the right conveyor type, the right design, and paying attention to regular maintenance activities. If your application requires 24/7 operation of a continuous bucket elevator, consider the following when sourcing new or replacement equipment:
- Choose equipment designed and built to handle 24/7 operation. 24/7 operation is a form of severe service. Elevators designed for standard duty service may not be able to withstand the rigors of 24/7 service without requiring more frequent replacement parts and maintenance interventions. Standard duty service elevators are likely also to have a decreased life expectancy if pressed into 24/7 service environments, necessitating accelerated capital expenditures for replacement equipment. Elevators designed for 24/7 operation, such as the TipTrak™ line from UniTrak described below, are purpose-built with the wear-resistance needed to handle 24/7 service.
- Do not compromise planned maintenance activities. Even the best equipment needs some planned maintenance. 24/7 service and planned maintenance can co-exist. Planned maintenance activities are just that – planned. Production schedules should be built that accommodate the needed planned maintenance activities recommended by the equipment manufacturer.
- Keep up with maintenance basics. Regular adjustment and lubrication can go a long way to ensuring uninterrupted service and high equipment availability. In addition, regular adjustment and lubrication of moving parts is a form of inspection: as adjustment and lubrication activities are carried out, there is an opportunity to observe any parts that may be worn, misaligned or broken. Similarly, periodic cleaning of the elevator to remove any accumulated material can help prevent wear and tear of drive assembly components. When running equipment 24/7, it is easy to overlook these maintenance basics. Don’t fall into this trap!
- Keep key parts in stock. If you are running 24/7 it is likely because you need to run that much to satisfy the market demand. Because Murphy can strike at any time, unplanned equipment downtime is 24/7 killer. Despite the best planned maintenance and routine servicing, parts can fail unexpectedly, shutting down throughput. The best defence is to ensure that you maintain an on-hand stock of key parts that will be needed to get the elevator back up and running. Keeping a part failure history can also be helpful for identifying parts that have a higher probability of failure and which should be kept on hand at all times.
If you are seeking bucket elevators for 24/7 service, UniTrak can help. The TipTrak™ line of continuous bucket elevators features industry-leading reliability and durability, and are a proven equipment choice for 24/7 service. The unique rubber beltchain and fully interlocking buckets of TipTrak™ elevators move materials gently with zero spillage and no degradation or damage. With a wide range of designs, constructions and capacities to choose from, there is a TipTrak™ elevator that will satisfy the needs of any application. To find out more about how UniTrak can help with your conveying needs, please contact our experienced sales team for further information.