B-ball & Belt Cleaning: It Takes More Than A Primary Player/Cleaner

We just finished my son's first full season of grade school/junior high basketball. Go, Bobcats! 🐾 After spending many evenings in local schools' gyms, I still have basketball on the brain. Even if/when there is a standout player or two, that doesn't always secure a win. As the saying goes, "there is no I in team." The same is true for proper belt cleaning. 

Some operations think and hope that installing one belt cleaner will do the job of adequately removing carryback from the belt. Occasionally that is true, depending on operating and material conditions. However, proper carryback removal often takes more than one belt cleaner. That is why belt cleaning systems frequently consist of:

  • Primary Belt Cleaner β†’ Removes the majority of material adhering to the belt
  • Secondary Belt Cleaner β†’ Removes any residual material that managed to sneak past the primary cleaner
  • Tertiary Belt Cleaner β†’ Removes extremely difficult/stubborn carryback
Multiple-cleaner systems are the best chance at efficient carryback removal

Now, let's get into all of the fun ways I can relate belt cleaning to the game. πŸ€

Take the 1996 Chicago Bulls Team For Example

πŸ€ Michael Jordan = Primary Belt Cleaner
πŸ€ Scottie Pippin =Secondary Belt Cleaner
πŸ€ Dennis Rodman = Tertiary Belt Cleaner (available to make an impact in the game when necessary)

Yes, people have their opinions on who the better player was but it took more than just one player to win games. It takes more than just a belt cleaner to efficiently remove carryback. It takes a properly selected, installed, and maintained belt cleaning system (Teamwork is the Dreamwork!) to stand up to the job. 

the teamwork of primary and secondary belt cleaners effectively removes carryback


An Assist

An assist is a pass that sets up a score like the secondary cleaner assists the primary. Secondary cleaners are installed at the point where the belt leaves the discharge pulley to remove any residual amounts of material that the primary cleaner left on the belt. Typically, a secondary cleaner is installed against a roller close enough to the primary cleaner that the material is returned to the main material stream (Slam Dunk!). Additional cleaners, tertiary, can be added for final cleaning.

Aggressive Belt Cleaning

Aggressive defense and belt cleaning are essential to holding the opponent and effectively removing lingering carryback. An aggressive approach - to defense and belt cleaning - shouldn't carry a negative connotation. It doesn't equate to damaging the belt or conveyor components, it just means the approach to belt cleaning is proactive and persistent.

Aggressive belt cleaning ensures carryback removal

Being aggressive wins games ("Be Aggressive, B- E Aggressive, B - E - AGG - RESS- IVE!" I might pay attention to the cheerleaders just as much as the game. πŸ“£). 

Referees & Regulatory Fines

Like a referee calling fouls, regulatory agencies can do somewhat of the same. They can hand over some steep fines for violations, shut down an operation for investigation, etc. Fouls can range from minor (unintentional) to major (intentional) and can even get as bad as a technical foul.

  • An inspection resulting in fines for violations = unintentional foul
  • Shutting down an operation for investigation = intentional foul
  • Violations that result in injury or even death = technical foul

Spillage piles under the belt create the need for manual cleanup

Regulatory agencies take housekeeping and safety seriously. A lack of belt cleaning will result in piles of fugitive material underneath the conveyor, requiring manual cleanup. Crews performing cleanup are put in close proximity to the belt, moving parts, and pinch points - all safety hazards to those working around conveyors. Just like a technical foul over a regular foul, repeat offenses, severe injury, or death will result in significant consequences. And in the tragic event of death, that is an invaluable loss. 

Substitute = Replacement Blade

Subbing in refreshed players for exhausted players is necessary, similar to replacing worn-out belt cleaner blades that are no longer able to do the job. Belt cleaner blades are wear parts and need to be replaced when damaged/worn out. Blade life depends on the material and operating conditions so it is important to inspect belt cleaners to know when blade replacement is needed. 

Timeouts & Shutdowns

Timeouts are a time to regain composure and strategize. Scheduled shutdowns are also a time to take care of that "to-do" list and maintain/enhance your operation. Make sure to fully plan for your shutdown so you can have all of the necessary materials on hand in order to make the most of your time. Just like the basketball managers have water bottles and sweat towels handy. 


Just because you shoot the ball doesn't mean you will make it - you could miss entirely. Just like having a belt cleaner installed doesn't mean it will clean the belt if it isn't correctly specified, installed, and maintained. Our experts in the field often hear belt cleaners do not perform as expected. After inspection, the common finding is that the wrong belt cleaner is in operation or it has not been properly installed/maintained. Make sure to line up that shot before releasing the ball! 

Free throws

The silence, the pressure, the preparation, the focus, the boxing out an opponent in hopes of rebounding the ball. Like rebounding the ball, you need to box out carryback in order to rebound material. Lost material - or material stuck to the belt - is lost profit. There is no need to accept the loss of material and the mess it creates. Focus on solving the problem instead. Keep in mind, there are no "free throws" for offenses in material handling. 

proper belt cleaning is essential to an operation's productivity and safety

According to Michael Jordan or Wayne Gretzky (not exactly sure which one - maybe even Michael Scott☺️), "you miss 100% of the shots you don't take." You also miss 100% of the carryback and unclaimed material/profit if you don't clean the belt and return that material to the stream. 

Just like belt cleaners need to be specified for the industry they will perform in to be successful, Michael Jordan learned from his short-lived stint in the White Sox organization that he was better suited for the NBA over the MLB. ⚾ Speaking of baseball, check out my blog post: 1, 2, 3 Strikes You're Out, Carryback!