Maximizing Your Conveyor Uptime

When it comes to revenue, conveyor uptime is everything. If your equipment isn’t running then it’s not producing; and if it’s not producing, there goes your profit. Conveyor equipment is often the linchpin in any operation as it’s responsible for conveying your material from point A to point B. If you have to shut your conveyor equipment down for maintenance—even if it’s routine—doing so off-schedule can be costly.

In fact, any industry is subject to the damage unplanned downtime can cause. A study by Information Technology Intelligence Consulting Research indicates that for the average business, the loss of a single hour of productivity can cause anywhere from $100,000 to $5 million in lost revenue.

For an industry that depends on material handling equipment to stay efficient and profitable, a temporary shutdown can have far-reaching impacts on the rest of the production and supply chain. If material can’t be diverted from point A to point B, then that material collects at point A, threatening to create a buildup that can further halt production.

Downtime is unavoidable, however; but through careful management and planning, its effect on production and the bottom line can be minimized.

Unplanned conveyor downtime has consequences

The result of a shutdown or sudden downtime can cost you on production; but also affect costs to consumers and even shareholders. Due to the potentially long-lasting or far-reaching effects of unscheduled downtime, being able to optimize equipment performance and any processes in place is crucial to the overall health of a project and company.

These damaging stoppages can be caused by a number of things, including:

  • Power loss
  • Maintenance issues
  • Mechanical problems
  • Natural disasters/accidents (fire, inclement weather )
  • Loss of personnel (strikes, injuries)

This means there’s much more to solving the problem of “unplanned downtime” than just equipment and that not all of these things can necessarily be prevented. The best you can do to maximize your conveyor equipment uptime is by having the right plans and processes in place. There are a couple of ways you can accomplish this.

Adopt a more intelligent system

In mining and other operations that require the use of conveyors, one option being utilized in recent years is smarter systems. These systems often allow operators to remotely monitor and manage equipment performance. This might include an early warning system to alert workers that there’s a potential blockage on the conveyor somewhere, or that something may go wrong if operation isn’t adjusted.

Such systems not only allow equipment and projects in difficult-to-reach areas (as it is with mining) to be monitored, but they can also be regulated to prevent accidents and optimize operational efficiency.

Conveyor belts can be protected further by using machines like tramp metal detectors. They can be used to detect and pull metal from materials being processed on conveyor belts, which helps avoid damage to the equipment or causing a system shut down. Eriez is a manufacturer of industrial metal detectors and provide an excellent way to learn more about how to protect your conveyors.

Develop a preventative maintenance plan

To keep your conveyor equipment running well, you need to not only understand the life cycle of each piece of equipment involved, but also implement a consistent cycle of preventative maintenance. Many companies have the bad habit of pushing their equipment to the limit just to keep production going; however, without regular maintenance and conveyor part replacement, conveyors can easily succumb to overuse and break down long before they’re expected to.

Manage equipment obsolescence

This goes along with understanding the life cycle of your conveyor equipment. To truly optimize the life of your conveyors, it helps to have a good relationship with your parts supplier, as they will be able to notify you of when parts need to be replaced or a special offer on parts is available.

Conveyors wear down over time, even with regular maintenance, and if you know ahead of time that one of your conveyors becoming obsolete, you can make the necessary preparations so that production doesn’t stall when you find yourself in need of a new one.

It’s not always about the money

When a business shuts down unexpectedly, it can damage relationships—with customers, investors, etc. While you do have to worry about a drop in revenue, a lost or damaged relationship with the people you depend on for business every day could produce longer lasting consequences. By having a plan in place, you can offer those customers, shareholders, and investors some peace of mind in knowing that you’ve got a plan and are taking immediate action to minimize any lost productivity.

Managing your processes and maintenance plans is only part of the solution. To maintain a conveyor system that optimizes your production and profit, consult with the professionals.