How Worn-Out Conveyor Guide Rails Might Be Slowing Your Factory Line

Conveyor guide rails are designed to secure products during the production run. The most recent innovations in guide rail technology make it possible to easily change between different products while using the same conveyor belt.

It becomes a matter of simply adjusting rails to manage different products without the need for multiple belts. In short, adjustable conveyor guide rails are designed to cut costs and speed up production runs. However, without proper maintenance, the reverse can also be true. 

This article will discuss how worn-out guide rail conveyors can slow down your factory run and why. Then, we’ll cover signs you need to look out for and how to fix problems. So, you can get your operations back to optimum efficiency. Let’s take a closer look…

Signs Your Conveyor Guide Rail Systems Need Optimizing

To begin with, conveyor guide rails work in a modular system. This is because the individual parts are made to adjust to different operational constraints. While this makes them highly adaptable and robust, one ineffective part can prevent the unit from operating as a whole.

As a result of the modular system, the breakdown of singular parts may not be easy to spot. Rather, you may notice these signs as telling of potential problems in the apparatus:

●    Change-over time: If you notice the time taken to change-over rail adjustment between products has increased

●    Production run time: If you notice that the run time for each product line is taking longer

●    Start-up time: If the time to begin a new product run increases

●    Downtime: If you need to make more unplanned stops than usual

●    Equipment failure: If you notice more issues with the belt system, such as product damage or jamming

These can all be indicators that your guide rail system has a problem. For example, certain chemical agents used in products can break down the plastic components of the guide rail.

Moreover, friction and load weight exerting side force on the rails can eventually cause wear, especially with outdated manual guide rail systems. These systems require precise calculations every time parts are adjusted. Even slight inaccuracies can mean the rails are not adequately able to sustain product runs in the long term. As a result, the system becomes overworked, and wear increases.

How It Slows Down Factory Lines

A worn-out guide rail system not only slows down operations. The extended periods needed to readjust between runs and the increased downtime can significantly affect productivity. Not to mention, a rise in product losses will cut into overall revenue. The speed and capacity of the belt itself can be adversely affected by poorly operating guide rail systems.

For example, you may see increased instances of belt mistracking. It might lead to uneven belt wear, causing issues with the tension and balance of the system. Or, in the worst case, the belt can slip off the track completely.

As products are transferred from one area to another, packets can get caught in the system. Causing the entire operation to be halted due to jamming and clogging. In addition, items can leave a residue that accumulates under the belt. Eventually, leading to rollers and pulleys becoming slower or stopping altogether.

Other Dangers

Or, more seriously, the build-up of certain residues can create a fire hazard or toxic fumes. This, in turn, creates costs for belt maintenance. As well as more expenses for the guide rails themselves. There are also operational risks and hazards to consider. If employees are injured due to failing systems, this is not just an ethical issue. It can mean legal liability and a reduced workforce, impacting overall profitability.

It’s also worth noting the aesthetic value of outdated or worn systems. As shareholders and stakeholders view sites, such issues may be regarded as a managerial or organizational failure. While these issues may be the worst-case scenario, they reflect the ways worn-out conveyor guide rails can seriously slow down factory lines. 

What You Can Do

Fortunately, there are several remedies to these problems:

● Corrective maintenance

● Preventative maintenance

● Risk-based maintenance

● Condition-based maintenance

Let’s look at each in turn:

Corrective Maintenance

This addresses problems as they arise. However, a reactionary maintenance strategy usually means long-term maintenance costs, unpredictability, and safety issues. 

Preventative Maintenance

This is based on scheduled intervals, regardless of whether there is a perceived issue. However, many operations are reluctant to perform this kind of maintenance. As this means costs go towards maintenance even when problems aren’t present. 

Risk-based Maintenance and Condition-Based Maintenance

Risk-based maintenance is designed to periodically test systems based on predetermined risks. However, this can mean unidentified problems can go unchecked. Finally, condition-based maintenance operates on conveyor equipment being continually monitored for issues so they can be addressed as they arise.

While this method relies on the data collected, it can be a more cost-effective option than risk and preventative maintenance. However, the initial cost of implementing a condition-based maintenance system might be intimidating, it’s essential to compare it to the other options available.

Reactionary tactics generate long-term costs and safety issues. While operating at timed intervals may not catch problems before they become serious. Likewise, a pinpointed approach can miss potential issues. By examining the real data as it emerges, systems can be maintained quickly and cost-effectively. But this requires the right monitoring technology.

Are You Ready to Start Using Conveyor Guide Rails?

Suppose you need the latest conveyor guide rails and the associated belt technology. In that case, we offer solutions to fit various budgets and operations. Our belief is that data and technology-led systems offer long-term maintenance costs and efficiency benefits. 

For more articles like this one, read the rest of our blog!