By Seth Mercer on Apr 9, 2021 12:30:40 PM
Last week, it was time for my regular trip to the dentist. I sat down in the chair and joked with the hygienist that I was back for more abuse. “Oh, you’d experience a lot more pain and suffering if it weren’t for these appointments,” she fired back. And she’s right...I do fairly well keeping my teeth clean on a daily basis, but we all benefit from a little routine help from the pros.
To that point, her comment resonated with me in a surprising and unexpected way. Although a bit more dramatic, it was similar to a suggestion I regularly offer our customers. While a lot of material handling sites do well to maintain clean, safe, and productive belt conveyor systems, a lot of others don’t do as well as they could or should. Just like good dental care, there are three parts to the equation.
1. Proper Maintenance
Proper maintenance is critical to ensure you're not shortchanging the effort to keep equipment in good working order and the operation running cleanly and productively. It’s true - there are only so many hours in a day and only so much can be accomplished in that time, but if you're regularly cutting corners or foregoing necessary maintenance and repair, a backlog of owed time will accumulate. Most commonly, that owed time comes back in the form of unplanned downtime, causing serious disruption and headache. I might not look forward to my regular checkups at the dentist, but those are nothing compared to the extra appointments I have to schedule when I don’t take good care of my teeth. Those appointments are always hard to work into my busy schedule and involve much, much, more pain and money.
2. Routine Visits
The second part of maintaining clean, safe, and productive conveyors is experts' visits. If you're doing a good job of maintaining equipment and processes, having someone with expertise on a particular part of the operation provide a checkup can confirm as much, providing peace of mind, or offer insight and pointers on how to make minor adjustments to do a little better. I always feel great strolling out of the dentist's office after a good checkup knowing I’m taking good care of my teeth and that it’ll probably be six months before I’ll have to come back.
The other benefit that comes from having an expert perform a checkup is that if something isn’t going so well, it provides an opportunity to gain an understanding of what’s going on and how to take steps to correct it as well as identify any potential problems. Left unchecked, such problems can worsen, sometimes rapidly, and end up costing more in the long run. I’ve got a few pieces of metal in my mouth, and as unpleasant as getting a filling is, I’ll take that over a root canal or getting a tooth yanked any day.
3. Pay Attention To Signs
The third and final thing you can do to take care of conveyors is to not ignore the signs and symptoms of underlying problems. Just as living with a toothache isn’t a good long-term plan, ignoring dust, material spillage, belt mistracking, belt damage, carryback, component damage, and other common belt conveyor issues will only compound troubles (and expenses) as these problems get worse. Don’t allow your site’s productivity, safety, cost of operation, and employees to suffer the headaches (toothaches) of poor conveyor system performance.
Be Sure To Schedule Your Checkups
If it’s been a while since you’ve had an expert walk your belt and provide a report on its operating condition or if you’ve recently noticed any of the things I mentioned above, give us a holler. We can discuss what you’re dealing with or come out for a visit to see if there’s something that should be addressed and corrected before things get out of hand. If you’re afraid things are already off the rails and you’re running around spitting teeth, don’t worry - there’s a good chance that over the past 75+ years, we’ve seen it and fixed it.
So give us a shout, brush your teeth, don’t forget to floss, and tell your dental hygienist how much you appreciate them (trust me, I'm married to one)!