Even the best conveyor belts need repairs to avoid replacement or breakdown. Stopping a production line for a conveyor belt repair is always an inconvenience, but it is essential. While minor damages like frayed edges and tears may seem insignificant, they can worsen if ignored. The nature of the rigorous work conveyor belts do daily means repairs can be expected. What is important, however, is knowing what methods of repair are available.
Types of Conveyor Belt Damage
While any damage to a belt is frustrating, certain types of damage are more significant than others. A simple fray, for example, can be trimmed and the belt can continue to carry out its daily tasks. However, rips or tears are often indicative of an immediate failure to run and will likely lead to a full replacement.
Although there is no one simple way to evaluate conveyor belt damage, the National Industrial Belting Association (NIBA) came up with a simple rule of thumb to help determine the belt’s repair: If the belt has suffered no more than 25% damage to its width then a repair can proceed. When more than 25% of damage has occurred, a replacement is most likely the best option.
Methods of Conveyor Belt Repair
This method of repair uses heat and pressure to re-splice the damaged belt. If the belt’s cover material is thermoset rubber or thermoplastic, then this is the most reliable and efficient repair technique.
While both materials effectively produce results, their process differs slightly. Thermoset rubber requires a lower heat of around 250 Fahrenheit and an hour-long cooling period. Thermoplastic on the other hand uses a higher heat of approximately 375 Fahrenheit with a shorter cooling time of about 5-10 minutes.
Vulcanization is often the first choice of repair for maintenance managers and is one of the only methods that can return the belt’s original strength. While this method will be successful if used, those working with food-grade belts may need to spend extra time deciding if vulcanization should be used. For the most part, to maintain sanitation, if damage occurs to thermoplastic food-grade conveyor belts, replacement is the best option.
This method of conveyor belt repair is known for its speed of application. While metal fasteners don’t offer the same strength that comes from vulcanization, they are a quick and easy alternative. This being said, the lacing has been known to pop up on metal fasteners, making them an unsuitable option for food-grade belts.
The nature of this type of repair means it should only be used temporarily until the belt can be replaced or a more long-term method of repair can be used. Given the unreliability of this method, it should not be used as a permanent repair solution.
Cold Curing Conveyor Belt Repair
Cold curing is often the last resort and is considered the least desirable. A two-part cement made up of a compound and a curing agent is used to solidify the surface.
This method of repair is used when vulcanization isn’t possible due to space constraints. It is one of the longest methods of repair taking up to 36 hours for the curing agent to set solid. The cement used can also be too rigid for the conveyor belt to function at its maximum capacity. Cold curing tends to be a last resort solution when other methods of repair are not available.
The dutchman repair method requires the maintenance manager to remove the damaged section of the belt. This is done by squaring the belt away at equal distances in both directions from the damaged area. Once the section is removed, a new section is spliced using the vulcanization method.
Repair Vs Replacement
The methods of repair listed above are not intended to take the place of replacing the belt. While repairs are often more cost-effective than replacement, they should be used as a temporary measure. This is especially the case for food-grade belts which require sanitation that can’t be guaranteed when using simple repairs. Any food-grade conveyor belt that becomes damaged should be replaced and not repaired.
Tuffman Conveyor Belts
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