How to Extend the Life of Your Conveyor

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So you don’t have a SMART Conveyor™. In fact, your conveyor is pretty dumb. It’s noisy. It’s inefficient. It requires too much attention. But you’re stuck with it. Is there anything you can do to help it run well (or at least better) for as long as possible?

There is. This blog is written by the folks who developed the SMART Conveyor™. We know a few things you can do to extend the life of your not-so-smart conveyor while working to convince your management to change to SMART Conveyors™. We must say also that some of these guidelines still apply to SMART Conveyors™, too.

1. Evenly Load the Conveyor Across Its Width

When material isn’t loaded evenly across the inside width of the conveyors, it unevenly loads the chain(s), causing uneven wear on the chain pins and bushings. It also often causes the paddles to rub against the conveyor wall. In twin-chain conveyors, unevenly loaded conveyors will cause one chain to wear faster than the other. Once this reaches a certain imbalance, the paddles are no longer going around the head and tail together. This twists the paddles and adds a lot of stress the chain components. In practice, once this wear point is reached, chain and paddle failure are soon at hand. And it’s problematic for single-chain conveyor because unevenly loaded paddles twist the chain to one side, causing uneven wear on the chain pins and bushings. Once this begins it accelerates very quickly and failure is inevitable.

2. Take Slack Out of the Chain

Take the slack out, but don’t overtighten it. If you overtighten the chain you add wear to both the chain and wear surfaces.  Slack is also a problem because it causes the conveyor to operate less efficiently: the chains do not run true, and energy isn’t transferred to the material being conveyed as well as is it could be. Each conveyor system is different so you need to study your conveyor to understand how much tension is correct. The best advice here is “only remove the slack.”

3. Do the Math

Optimize the conveyor according to the working load of the chain vs. the total weight of the chains system and material. Calculate the tons per hour moving through the conveyor and stay way down on the working load of the chain. You may need to speed up the chain to achieve this, but don’t go faster than needed. If you speed up the chain, you’ll reduce the amount of material each paddle is carrying and the total material inside the conveyor. If you slow it down, you’ll have the benefit of reducing the number of bends around the sprockets the chain will incur. The sprockets are where the primary wear on the chain occurs aside from corrosion.


While completing these tasks will help your conveyor last longer, it won’t change it from Gomer Pyle to MacGyver. lf you want to upgrade your underperforming conveyor, you will need a better system. Contact us to learn about our SMART Conveyors today.

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