In the midst of a challenging economy and shrinking capital budgets, many companies are faced with the daunting challenge of keeping aging conveyor systems up and running well past when they’d ordinarily be heading to the scrap yard. Unlike a fine wine, mechanical equipment doesn’t usually get better with age. But there is hope for those who don’t have the luxury of upgrading to a brand new, state-of-the-art system any time soon, and Bastian Solutions can help. Here are a few conveyor system maintenance tips to keep those belts a-turning.
1. Maintenance Technician
The most commonly underappreciated heroes of every facility are the men and women wearing tool belts. One of the biggest mistakes we see companies do is either not hire a maintenance technician or underpay one. Think about it, would you go to the cheapest doctor in town if you were sick? A good technician will correct small problems before they become big ones. In life, it all comes down to how you want to spend your money. Would you rather spend money on lost sales and unhappy customers when your system goes down and you can’t get the product out the door, or on a great maintenance technician? Hiring a good maintenance technician is not easy, and Bastian can help you identify the right person for the job or place one of our skilled technicians in your facility.
2. Spare Parts
Sell me a mechanical part that never needs to be replaced, and I’ll find you some ocean front property in Arizona. There are certain things in this world you can pretty much bank on. The sun will come up tomorrow. The Cubs are not going to the World Series. And mechanical parts are eventually going to fail (most likely at the worst possible time). Depending upon which part fails, a breakdown can halt production for a long time. Go long periods without replacing a failed part and serious damage could be inflicted on other parts of the system. We highly recommend keeping a safety stock of all critical and long lead time conveyor parts on hand. If this is not in the budget, we can work with you to ensure your critical parts are kept in stock at our warehouse.
3. Preventive Maintenance
If you only plan to fix stuff when it breaks, you’re going to be very busy fixing stuff. Mechanical equipment–including conveyors–must be maintained. Different parts of your system require different levels of preventive care. It’s no different than your car. Follow the recommended service schedule, and it will run a very long time. Don’t perform service on the car, and you’ll constantly be sitting on the side of the road. Bastian can work with you to develop a comprehensive preventive maintenance plan. By following this, you will ensure yourself maximum system up-time.
4. System Audit & Documentation
It’s important to continually inspect your conveyor system to ensure it’s running smoothly. A lot of times you can hear and smell a small problem long before it becomes a big one. Unfortunately, those who are around the system every day have a hard time telling when something fails slowly over time. Bastian can help by coming in and performing a complete system audit. By inspecting your entire system from infeed to discharge, we can help ensure it is not headed toward catastrophic failure.
5. Obsolete Equipment & Parts
Sometimes money prohibits replacing entire systems. However, it’s important to stay current on what conveyor and parts within your system are obsolete and no longer being manufactured. Knowing this can help you and your company make wise business decisions. For example, if we know a particular type of conveyor is no longer being manufactured, we may determine it would be more financially prudent to stock additional spare parts for this piece of equipment than replace it in its entirety. Bastian is constantly being made aware of equipment that is becoming obsolete, and we can help you prepare for this situation.
6. Repair Wisely
Maintaining a large material handling system can be overwhelming. It’s important that we think of needed repairs in terms of time. For example, if a bearing goes out in a center drive, the cost effective thing to do would be to replace the bearing only. However, the intelligent thing to do would be to replace both bearings and possibly the pulley. Taking the drive section apart takes time, usually a lot more time than actually changing out the components. It’s important to fix things intelligently.
Maintaining conveyors can be a daunting job. However, with a little bit of organization and thought, you can extend the life of a conveyor system well beyond what the manufacturer claims.
Need help fixing your conveyors? We’re ready to help. Call us at (888) 575-9992 or send an email to [email protected].