How Conveyor Pulley Design Affects Overall Pulley Performance

July 27, 2018

Conveyor pulleys shape system performance. Otherwise stated, pulley performance has a direct effect on the entire equipment frame, which in turn impacts payload conveyance efficiency. It’s a tightly integrated parts assembly, this equipment, and that degree of on-board connectivity typically equals superior power-train functionality. However, if the pulleys aren’t pulling their weight, then losses will accumulate across the entire deck, and that’s a mathematical certainty.

Let Down by Pulley Mathematics 

Low-performance conveyor pulleys don’t just impact that single section of the belt. The losses are transmitted throughout the system because of the equipment’s linear architecture. Furthermore, probably because every pulley on the equipment line has been sourced from the same manufacturer, the losses multiply. The more pulleys on the line, the more performance-attenuated the belt-drive operates. If overall system efficiency is to realize its full potential, then the design must incorporate reliable conveyance linkages. Those linkages, the conveyor pulleys, need to be engineered to serve the system properly.

Performance-Improving Pulley Features 

Purpose-built conveyor pulleys improve system speed, plus they support eccentrically shaped and exceptionally heavy loads. On a traditional packaging line, moderately strengthened rubber-clad drums are optimal, but that configuration isn’t going to work in a mine or quarry. Out on those material transporting lines, tough industrial rubbers are utilized, or they’re entirely replaced by spiral drum pulleys, wing drum pulleys, or some other heavy-duty mechanism. Now, with the drum cladding interfacing with the selected belt type, the system pulls its weight. It uses these pulley features to cope with impacts, powdery residues, and all manner of aggressive usage challenges. In the following list, we see what other changes can be made to improve system performance:

  • Rolled/forged stainless steel shafts
  • Bushing and bearing assembly designs
  • Drum wall thickness 
  • Drum and drum shaft diameter
  • Cladding modifications
  • Face crowning

What are Crowning Differences? 

A flat cylinder maximizes belt lifespan and distributes load uniformly, but it lacks tracking effectiveness. To really boost overall system performance, the geometry of the cylinder is altered to improve tracking. In mining, quarrying, and other non-uniform conveyance applications, there are options for installing centre “humps,” features that improve aggregate flow. Look for single crown, trapezoidal surfaces, and radial/hyperbolic variants, for crown shapes that affect and improve overall pulley performance. 

Maintenance teams can only achieve so much. They grease pulley nipples and service the power coupling assemblers. In the end, however, we’re not going to get a conveyor belt’s best unless its pulleys are designed to fit a proposed application. For a conveyor belt to do its duty, pulley designers and suppliers need to know what features will come together to best support a specific application.

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