In the era of health and mental wellness, downtime has so many positive connotations, but in the cement industry – it is a downright negative concept. The cost of downtime at a cement plant can add up to as much as $25,000 USD per hour – so you can see why the industry tries so hard to avoid it at all costs.
If you’re reading this, you’re probably aware of the multitude of different occurrences that can result in downtime at a cement plant. Scheduled maintenance is just one of the reasons you’re operation can come to a halt, but it’s necessary to ensure your belt conveyor system is performing at an optimum level. It’s also necessary to prevent catastrophic events from occurring such as a major belt rip or severe buildup of spillage that may cause the belt to mistrack and cut into the structure.
So, how do I reduce the amount of time I spend on scheduled maintenance?
To cut down the amount of time you spend on scheduled maintenance takes careful planning and a level of financial investment. Here are our top tips for ensuring you have an efficient belt conveyor system that allows you to shave time off your scheduled maintenance procedures:
1) Invest in systems that are easy to maintain.
Invest your time and money wisely into a system that has easy-to-access replacement parts. Spending money on conveyor maintenance accessories can at times be costly, however, investing in the right engineered system for your site could move downtime from hours, to minutes. Which brings me to my second point …
2) Do your research.
A product may promise to do everything you need it to, and it may deliver if it’s installed correctly after painstakingly pouring over the instruction manual for hours on end trying to put what seems like one of a million pieces together in the correct formation. So make sure you do your research into a product that makes installation and maintenance easy to understand.
|Severe spillage on inefficient system.
|Severe soft skirt damage from hard-to-maintain system.
As an Australian Heavy-Duty specialist, I know about this dilemma all too well. I was part of a major site overhaul where a site conveying dry concrete via a belt conveyor system was experiencing great difficulty maintaining their current system from a European manufacturer. The severe levels of spillage also resulted in a loss of profit due to wasted and unsellable aggregate material. In addition to these issues, the spillage caused a material build up on one side of the conveyor belt, causing the belt to mistrack. This damaged the soft skirt and also the conveyor structure.
However, the biggest challenge was the unnecessary maintenance hours required to efficiently maintain this system. To replace high-wear items such as soft skirt, the user had to remove unnecessary parts of the conveyor first, which meant a huge loss in productivity for the site. Realistically, the task should have been simple.
As soon as we replaced the overly complex system with a Flexco enclosed skirt system, which was engineered to be simple and easy to install, we saw great results. In addition to ease of installation, the simplicity of the design meant production time no longer had to be compromised to complete maintenance tasks such as soft skirt change-outs and adjustments. The system also incorporates easily-adjustable hardskirts for longer wearing side panels.
3) Constantly optimize
|New easy to install Flexco enclosed skirting system.
Technology is constantly progressing in all facets of our lives. This is no different for conveyor belt systems either. Technology just looks different in the cement industry. It comes in the form of well-engineered, easy to use products, which do the job effectively. We understand that a conveyor is built to last, however, to get the most out of the system you should constantly be looking for ways to upgrade parts that are fastly becoming ineffective. Don’t wait until it’s too late and the system has caused mass amounts of chaos, needing hours upon hours of service and maintenance to get back up and running to a sub-par standard. Invest resources into constant optimization so that you can not only reach, but exceed, your throughput goals.
Talk to us about optimizing your system
Flexco offers free belt conveyor assessments as a way to ensure that your system is performing at an optimum and you’re getting as much product out the door as you need to reach your productivity goals. You can register for a free on-site assessment here.
Authored by: Sebastian Olguin, Heavy-Duty Field Specialist – Flexco Australia
Before joining Flexco as the East-Coast HD Specialist, Olguin worked as a mechanical shutdown coordinator in Australia’s biggest Iron Ore mines. He brings with him a wealth of knowledge surrounding mechanical shutdowns in the Australian mining industry, with a specific focus on stellar product installation. Olguin also holds a multitude of qualifications in site safety.