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Maintaining performance

  • Others
  • Jun 09, 2023

Manufacturing and warehousing facilities in all sectors rely on conveyors and sorting lines for continued successful operation.

Downtime, especially when unscheduled, cannot be countenanced. Not only is this likely to impact the specific machine served by the conveyor or sorting line, but other areas of processing as well. Indeed, in many instances, overall performance of the facility can be significantly impacted by downtime in just one area of the process.

One of the main causes of downtime is maintenance, whether scheduled or unscheduled.

When specifying conveyors and sorting systems, therefore, designers should always look for the option that will require the least maintenance – and therefore result in the lowest possible downtime.

This is especially the case for maintenance tasks which cannot be undertaken by in-house staff and require the presence of expert, external technicians – which may not be possible to arrange quickly.

Most traditional conveyor systems rely on metal gears, chains and sprockets. These require regular greasing, typically entailing frequent scheduled maintenance impacting the whole system while this task is undertaken. Failure to maintain a strict regime in this area can result in premature and excessive wear, and potentially catastrophic failure with extended downtime while repairs take place.

However, an alternative exists in the form of motor-driven rollers (MDRs) which have internal grease pockets and therefore require no lubrication on an ongoing basis.

Even when rollers do need replacement due to wear, damage or other reasons, this task can be undertaken in a matter of minutes by an in-house technician using basic tools, with no specialist knowledge needed.

The same applies to the changing of the transmission belts linking motorized rollers to slave rollers. These belts can typically function for extended periods – a number of years – before they require replacement, depending on the weight and quantity of the items being handled. But once again, at the end of its life, changing a belt is a simple matter for an in-house technician.

Similarly, replacement of other parts on MDR-driven diverter systems such as the Itoh Denki F-RAT NX, is rapid and simple. As well as MDRs and belts, other parts that come into direct contact with products being handled such as wheel cartridges, can be replaced in-house in a matter of a few minutes.

To avoid downtime completely, the module affected can simply be removed from the diverting line and a spare module put in place while work is undertaken on the original one. The long service life of the components in these systems means there is no need for a lengthy spares inventory either, reducing working capital.

This compares very favourably with other types of modular diverters which are often heavier and require more complex installation, with maintenance also a trickier proposition and a greater array of spares often needing to be held on-site – just in case.

Required maintenance is still not always a key factor when it comes to system specification but with margins tight, and profit so often squeezed from the last few percentage points of activity, it is a factor which every specifier should put at the heart of their decision when designing conveyor and diverter systems.

You can find more information on maintenance and repair operations in the technical documents at: https://www.itoh-denki.com/technical-support/technical-documentation/

A step-by-step maintenance operation video for the FRAT-NX is also available at: https://www.itoh-denki.com/videos/maintenance-operation-f-rat-nx/.

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