The world is going digital. Every day we witness what seem like perennial brick-and-mortar industries transforming the way they do business, with new digital disruptions around every corner. With materials handling industries turning to digital to streamline operations and processes to increase their business performance, we decided to do the same here at Flexco by transforming the manual process of conducting a belt conveyor system assessment into a specially-designed app for smartphones and tablets.
Traditionally, our experts would walk the conveyor system using a pen-and-paper method, which we’d then transfer into a report. It would then take weeks for mining companies to properly analyse and implement solutions to the assessment findings.
When one small issue can be the difference between millions of dollars in lost downtime, the need to streamline the assessment process was critical. We set about designing an app that delivers us a new level of efficiency, and also allows you, our customer, to implement these findings quickly and easily.
Why You Need a Belt Conveyor System Assessment
On-site, maintenance teams walk their belt conveyor systems every single day, fixing any issues that threaten to halt production. Oftentimes, these fixes end up being temporary because there is no time to identify the real problem and come up with a long-term solution. So the equipment keeps breaking and the operation keeps shutting down for unexpected periods of time.
How do you avoid these instances? One way is to request a comprehensive belt conveyor system assessment from a qualified third-party. Your maintenance team is constantly assessing your system, but there is no substitution for having an expert third party share tips, tricks, and best practices. Every day, our field specialists around the world are on site walking beltlines, helping on-site maintenance teams identify the root cause of issues, and finding long-term solutions before they threaten to become major problems.
Taking a more proactive approach to your conveyor maintenance could serve as your “crystal ball” when it comes to the future of your system. If you periodically assess your system, you can detect potential problems before they lead to costly repairs and unscheduled downtime. Bringing in an expert partner who can assess your belt conveyor system and provide you with constructive feedback could add years to your equipment, save you time and money in unscheduled downtime, and help improve safety on site.
The Secret to a Successful Assessment
The purpose of a successful assessment is not to simply identify problems, but to identify the root cause of those problems. Simply telling an operation that the belt is dirty and suggesting a product to “fix” the problem is not a best practice when it comes to assessments. An assessor should tell you why it is happening and why the suggested solution will work for you long term.
An assessor must look at the belt conveyor system holistically and take into account many problems that could be impacting productivity such as carryback, spillage, slippage, belt wear, and load point stress and dust.
The real secret to an assessment is in the implementation. The one commitment you have to make when deciding to have an assessment performed is to address the issues that are identified. This should start the moment a belt conveyor system assessment is completed. The Flexco App allows our team to review the findings with you and begin the implementation stage of the assessment while they are still on site, seconds after completing a belt conveyor assessment.
Taking Assessments Digital
The app not only makes our field specialist’s assessment of a site much quicker and easier – by allowing photos and videos to be included and comments to be written directly into the form fields – but it also allows them instantly generate a formal report. And if the local data coverage allows it, they can immediately send it via email before they even leave the site. This allows a discussion of the findings to occur in real time with the site’s maintenance teams, directly after finishing the assessment.
The app allows Flexco specialists to input information into dedicated form fields while they are walking the conveyor line. There’s space to include an overall conveyor system rating, diagnostic issues, and data on the conveyor systems’ condition. Then, it walks through all the different issues our specialists look out for on a conveyor system, for example:
- Tail Pulley Protection
- Belt Tracking
- Belt Protection in the Load Zone
- Belt Support
- Material Transfer at the Load Zone
- Belt Splices
Most importantly, the report also includes recommendations for maintenance management on how to solve these issues. Maintenance can then quickly and easily implement these recommendations to limit the chance of unscheduled downtime.
Once the assessment concludes, the Flexco specialist can then immediately generate an in-depth report which can include a full list of conveyors, recommendations, service requirements, safety issues, and parts lists, that can then be emailed directly to site management before our specialists have even left the belt line.
Another great reason why digital belt conveyor assessments are so important is they serve as a current status report which can be used to follow up on issues and track performance improvement. If an assessment is conducted every three to six months, this becomes an excellent record, not only of improvements that have been implemented on site, but also of productivity and operational improvements that have been achieved as a result. The amount of in-depth information that is captured also has the ability to help in other departments like procurement and purchasing.
Increase Your Belt Conveyor System Productivity
Inspecting and performing maintenance on all of your conveyor system components should be part of an overall maintenance plan, and an assessment is a large part of that plan. Partnering with a conveyor specialist equipped with industry-leading technology to regularly assess your belt conveyor system should become a critical element of your operations productivity strategy. The amount of effort you put into proactive maintenance will decrease the amount of unexpected downtime, help keep your workers safe, and help your operation run more efficiently.
Flexco Field Specialists around the world are well-equipped to provide no-obligation belt conveyor assessments using the Flexco app. Getting in touch with us is the first step to taking a proactive approach to conveyor maintenance. Click here to schedule a comprehensive belt conveyor system assessment of your operation. It’s quicker, easier, and smarter than ever before!
Authored by: Ryan Grevenstuk, Director of Marketing – Heavy-Duty
Grevenstuk is responsible for strategic global business and market plans, industry and market research, new product development, customer relationship management, and technical support for the heavy-duty product lines at Flexco. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University, as well as a master’s degree from Western Michigan University.