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Properly tracking a conveyor belt is a crucial part of maintenance and installation for material handling systems, but this can also be the most painful to deal with. If the belt isn’t aligned and then controlled the right way, it will not follow the desired path, causing disruption or delays in operation.

Luckily, conveyor belt tracking doesn’t have to be a major task when you follow the right steps. Before doing anything else, check for common issues.

Here’s what to do:

  1. Inspect the Frame – Inaccuracies in the conveyor belt frame are the number one reason for miss-tracking. If the frame is not square and/or level, it will cause the belt to move (to one side or the other) during operation.

Use a standard level to check the levelness of the frame and pulleys, and measure the conveyor’s dimensions from one corner to the opposite corner on each side. If the measurements are not equal, check if the manufacturer has provided squaring rods on the bottom, and use them to pull the frame back into alignment.

  1. Inspect the Pulleys – Most people tend to steer the end pulley while tracking a conveyor belt, especially during installation or maintenance. This can cause miss-tracking as well, since the belt has been adjusted too much in one place.

Instead of adjusting the end pulleys, use the idlers or snub rollers for tracking the belt. These are smaller rollers found on the underside of most conveyor units, and can be adjusted to help the belt follow the desired path.

  1. Inspect for Debris – It’s common for sticky tape and other debris to get caught under the end pulleys, and build up over time. If these are not cleaned, they can lead to a portion of the pulley getting raised or forming a crown that causes miss-tracking.

It’s essential to check for mechanical issues during conveyor belt tracking, but equally crucial to keep the unit clean. Check for debris and make sure the belt is cleaned properly when scheduled maintenance is being performed.

  1. Inspect for Curves – Conveyor belts are usually cut down to the required width during the manufacturing process at the factory. If the belt has not been cut perfectly straight, it can develop an arc or curve that causes miss-tracking.

If you feel that this may be an issue, remove the belt from the unit and lay it out on the floor for easier inspection. Double check if it’s cut straight along the whole length, and contact the manufacturer if you find any faulty sections.

The 3-Step Process for Conveyor Belt Tracking

As discussed above, the snub rollers or idlers should be used for steering the belt. Make small adjustments and keep testing the result, starting with the idlers closest to the end of the conveyor and work your way toward the center.

Here’s what to do:

  1. Loosen the Idlers – Loosen the roller by locating the set of bolts that’s closest to the tail pulley and loosening them. This step needs to be performed while the conveyor is running.
  2. Adjust the Bolts – Gently tap the bolts using a rubber mallet, in the direction toward which you want to steer the belt (for instance, on the left side if you want the conveyor to move to the left). Re-tighten the bolts once the snub roller moves into the correct position, and the belt will track towards the center within 7-10 revolutions.
  3. Repeat Step 1 & 2 – Continue adjusting the snub rollers until the centers of the belt and end pulley are within a quarter inch of each other. With longer belts, you may need to adjust more snub rollers.

Contact the experts at Northern California Compactors if you still face issues with tracking your conveyor belt. We’ll be glad to help you set it up correctly!