Your 2024 Guide On How To Clean Conveyor Belts

Your 2024 Guide On How To Clean Conveyor Belts

Different conveyor belt types in action during a factory operation.

Your 2024 Guide On How To Clean Conveyor Belts

Introduction

Much like any hardworking piece of equipment, conveyor belts require proper cleaning to function at their best. Neglecting cleaning can lead to a domino effect of problems, impacting everything from efficiency and safety to product quality. Previously, we’ve discussed conveyor belt troubleshooting tips, and how maintenance is a crucial aspect for any piece of equipment. This guide equips you with the knowledge you need to develop a comprehensive conveyor belt cleaning  programme.

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Why Clean Conveyor Belts?

The consequences of neglecting conveyor belt cleaning can be significant. Material buildup on the belt surface increases friction, leading to reduced efficiency as more energy is required to keep the belt moving. This buildup also accelerates wear and tear on the belt itself, as it constantly scrapes against components. In critical industries like food processing, residue on the belt can contaminate products. Perhaps most concerning are the safety hazards: buildup can lead to belt slippage, increasing the risk of accidents and injuries.

By implementing a regular cleaning  programme, you can avoid these issues and reap the benefits of a well-maintained conveyor belt system. Clean belts operate with less friction, reducing energy consumption and improving efficiency. Regular cleaning minimises wear and tear, extending the life of your conveyor belt. Enhanced product quality is achieved by clean belts that minimise the risk of contamination. Finally, a clean belt minimises the risk of slippage and accidents, creating a safer work environment.

Conveyor Belt Cleaning Methods

The best cleaning tools for your conveyor belt depends on several factors, including the type of material being conveyed, the level of contamination, and the belt material itself. Here’s a breakdown of the most common cleaning techniques:

  1. Dry Cleaning Techniques:
  • Scraper Blades: These blades are mounted on the conveyor frame and continuously scrape against the underside of the belt, removing dry, caked-on materials. Different scraper blade materials are available for varying levels of abrasiveness.
  • Brushes: Brushes offer versatility for cleaning systems. Stiff brushes tackle dry debris, while softer brushes are suitable for lighter materials or delicate belts.
  • Air Cannons: These compressed air systems deliver powerful blasts to dislodge airborne particles and dust buildup, particularly effective in dusty environments.
  1. Wet Cleaning Techniques:
  • Water Spray Systems: Simple yet effective, water spray systems utilise strategically placed nozzles to wash down the conveyor belt surface. The water pressure can be adjusted based on the level of cleaning required.
  • Pressure Washers: For stubborn materials or heavily soiled belts, pressure washers provide a more forceful cleaning option. However, caution is necessary to avoid damaging the belt material. Always consult the manufacturer’s recommendations for appropriate pressure settings.
  1. Cleaning Solutions: 
  • In some cases, specialised cleaning solutions might be necessary for specific types of contaminants. These solutions should be chosen carefully, considering factors like compatibility with the belt material and adherence to industry regulations (e.g., food-grade cleaners for food processing applications). Always refer to the safety data sheet (SDS) for proper handling and disposal of cleaning solutions.
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Choosing the Right Cleaning Method

Selecting the most effective cleaning method requires careful consideration of several factors:

  • Type of Material Being Conveyed: Dry cleaning methods are suitable for dry materials like sand or gravel. Wet cleaning might be necessary for sticky or wet materials.
  • Level of Contamination: The severity of material buildup will influence the cleaning method. Heavier buildup might require a combination of dry and wet cleaning techniques.
  • Conveyor Belt Material and Construction: Different belt materials have varying degrees of tolerance for cleaning methods. For example, some conveyor belts might be damaged by high-pressure water. Always consult the belt manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Industry Regulations: Certain industries, like food processing, have strict regulations regarding cleaning solutions and procedures. Ensure your chosen method complies with these regulations