March 23, 2021

It is routine: Maintenance of Material Handling Equipment

Preventative maintenance is of critical importance for your operation. By performing regular maintenance, you will avoid unforeseen shutdowns and expensive repairs. When a conveyor system or other handling hardware falls into disrepair, it can cost excessive amounts to repair and replace damaged elements, but it may result in production shutdowns, the loss of clients, and even the closure of your business. All of this can be avoided with general maintenance of material handling equipment. While plant maintenance and material handling will vary based on the machinery specifics, there are some basics you need to know about maintaining your equipment.

Check Your User Manuals

The best way to determine exactly what needs to happen with your equipment in terms of maintenance and scheduling is to look for the information within your user’s manuals. If you don’t have the manuals, you can check the manufacturer’s website. Chances are, the manuals will either be available for download, or you can contact the manufacturer and request the manuals. Here you will find all kinds of useful information, including what needs to be serviced, how often everything needs to be serviced, and what kind of cleaning materials and solutions can be used on the hardware.

Regular Cleaning

While this is even more important if you are working with organic and food material, all of your material handling equipment needs to receive regular cleaning. The cleaning should not simply start with washing down the conveyor system or emptying out bucket elevators. Rollers and other support equipment need to be cleaned¬†and the environment itself. If the work environment is dirty, there’s a greater chance of some of the debris affecting the equipment. So whether this means the equipment is cleaned at the end of the day or once a week, you need to stop third-shift production and instead have the facility cleaned properly. Regular cleaning is one of the most important forms of routine maintenance you need to follow.

Proper Lubrication

Some areas of the conveyor setup will rely on lubrication. When the areas that are regularly in motion or come in contact with other pieces of metal dry out, it can lead to cracks, damaged equipment, and system shutdowns. Do not just apply additional lubrication to the equipment, though. Make sure to clean off the old lubricant and then apply the replacement. Also, make sure you’re using the right lubricant for the machinery. Using the wrong equipment can cause problems as well.

Check Moveable Parts

If you have a conveyor system, you likely have rollers within the conveyor system. There is constant tension placed on the conveyor’s rollers, which means some of these rollers might wear down faster than others. Some might want to rotate the rollers regularly to make sure all the rollers wear at a somewhat even clip. In contrast, others prefer to replace the outside rollers (which are under the most tension) and refrain from swapping out the internal rollers until necessary. Whatever you do, make sure to check out the moving parts and, if there is any sign of wear and tear, replace the parts.

It is always recommended to have some spare parts on hand, just in case a roller or another piece of equipment does fail in the middle of a shift. This way, instead of waiting for a replacement part to arrive, you can simply install the replacement part you have on hand.

Check The Entire Setup Annually (At Least)

At least once a year, it is good to go over the entire setup and inspect all aspects of the material handling equipment. This includes screws, bolts, and every other small part of the machinery. Often, small screws on the underside of the equipment may not receive the kind of attention, and vibrations and weight from the machinery might, eventually, cause some screws to loosen or even fall out. Because these areas of the machinery do not receive much attention, you or your staff may not even realize the equipment is functioning without everything properly assembled.

So, while it does take some time to go over all of the equipment to make sure all screws are tight and everything is where it needs to be, it is far better to shut down production for a day and go over everything to ensure there are no problems than to run the equipment as always, not inspect everything, and to have a conveyor fail, fall, or break unexpectedly. Not only is this an extremely expensive order to replace, but it can put members of your staff in harm’s way as well.

A safe environment will help you and your staff avoid injuries. So do yourself, your employees, and your insurance a favor and put in the necessary maintenance time. As long as you schedule it all in advance, you’ll be able to work around the scheduled maintenance without any loss of production.

Help With Your Material Handling Equipment Maintenance

The best way to understand what you need to do with your equipment maintenance is to check the user manuals you have regarding the equipment. These manuals will detail exactly what needs to happen and how frequently you need to perform the equipment maintenance. However, if you do not have the manuals, the equipment is dated, or you’re unsure, the staff here at Gough Econ can assist. Whether you purchased the equipment from us or not, we can walk you through some specifics and point out what needs to happen. We can also make suggestions about replacement equipment, and what kinds of cleaning solutions will work the best depending on the equipment you own. So, whether you need help with your material handling equipment maintenance or you have general questions about the services offered, the staff here at Gough Econ is here to help. Give us a call at your earliest convenience.

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