How to Diagnose and Resolve Pulley Belt Tension Problems

September 24, 2018

A loss of belt tension can be incredibly frustrating. A conveyor system skews, its contents shift, and the entire system is transformed from its normal optimised runnings into a chaotic mess. Pulley tensioners attend to this duty. They adjust on-the-fly, keep the belt stretched and flat, and ensure the payload sits where it was first positioned, not where it ends up because of a rising fold or elastic wrinkle.

Sleuthing Slackness Problems 

Things have gone awry. The conveyor belt is emitting a squealing noise, and the line employees are covering their ears. Because the belt tension is suboptimal, the slackened ribbon is slipping. Just like a loose car fan belt, the squealing sound occurs everytime the system is put under load. To solve this low traction problem, check out the drive assembly first. This is where the equipment receives its force transmitting potency, after all. Is there material build-up under the drive pulley? Clean the pulleys and adjust the tensioners.

Lagging-Related Slippage 

The adjustment process takes note of the payload weight, the elongation factor, as applied by the belt material, and the tension placed on the equipment by all drive and tensioning pulleys. If there’s still a belt wrinkle or flap of rising material after these parts have all been adjusted, consider another option. Pulley diameter should be consistent, from one roller to the next. If that’s not the case, then system tension is compromised. Inspect the pulley lagging to see if these surfaces are worn.

Material Build-up Problems 

The clues are there for all to see. The packages or components are well-wrapped, but there’s waste flapping all around the place. Left to its own devices, the foreign material and process waste find their way into the inner working of the conveyor system. An idler pulley seizes, the belt skips forward or jerks out of control. The system tension is thrown out of adjustment, and the belt drive no longer conveys its load smoothly forward. Always clear waste material. There are moving parts here, which can be jammed or loosened by a single seized component. 

Finally, perhaps worst of all, the belt is stretching. Rubber belts and their synthetic cousins can stretch over time, or they elongate because of a jammed idler roller. Chain belt drives experience loosened linkages, and the resulting slackening effect debilitates the system tensioners. At first, adjustments can be made, and they compensate for the stretching. As the issue worsens, however, higher belt tensioning is required. Repair the linkages, overhaul the rubber ribbon, or replace the stretched sections before they damage their mechanical underpinnings.

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