A Review about Different Pulley Components

June 22, 2018

Functioning as essential parts of a well-oiled machine, pulley components keep conveyor systems working at their best. The closely arrayed cylinders support the belt and serve as drive interfaces. Let’s take that drivetrain and prime mover out of the equation for a moment. Left with the flexible transportation ribbon and a set of pulleys, what roles do these components address?

Checking Out the Bookend Pulleys 

Fundamentally speaking, this is a single loop. Granted, there are spur sections and PLC electronics switching those multiple moving tracks. Stripped to its most rudimentary outlines, though, there are a handful of moving pulleys and the conveyor belt. Located at one end of that loop, a drive coupler hooks the motor to the strip of travelling material. Zipping over to the opposite end of that loop, a tail end pulley completes the general outlines of the equipment frame. Rolling smoothly, the active drive pulley tugs the belt, the belt turns, and the energy is transmitted all the way down to the tail end cylinder. Again, this is a basic system configuration, but it holds true when applied to real-world equipment.

Regarding the Take-Up Pulley 

A short run conveyor frame can just about manage on this tragically basic mechanical configuration. In real life, however, the equipment tends to cover large areas. That belt, supported only by two end-system pulleys, is going to sag and lose tension. In order to avoid that undesirable development, the system designers add take-up pulleys to the equipment run. It’s the job of these tensioning cylinders to eliminate belt sag and keep the moving ribbon tight.

Snub and Bend Pulleys 

As the label implies, bend pulleys change the direction of conveyor systems. If true linear action is partially lost during the redirection phase, then the bend units dynamically add tension to the belt. Meanwhile, snub pulleys are operating like many workhorses to keep the flat ribbon in contact with all other pulleys so that the system achieves maximum traction.

Deconstructing the Pulleys 

What about the guts of the pulleys? On the outside, the cylinders are referred to as drums. They’re coated in a high-grip material or special cladding. Then there’s a diaphragm plate welded to either end of the drum, plus a toughened central drive shaft. Bearing assemblies and adjustable mounts support the shaft. They’re coupled via a series of complex mechanisms, which include locking elements, pummel blocks, and all manner of supplementary mounting elements. 

Towards the end, things got complicated. That’s because the frame-to-pulley coupling zones are system critical elements. If a conveyor system and its various pulleys are to run true, the bearing assemblies need lubrication, plus a maintenance program that will continually assess the equipment to ensure the shafts are properly adjusted, according to the highest engineering standards.

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