How to Track a Conveyor Belt

How to track a Belt

The tracking of an out of centre running belt on a belt conveyor can be a very challenging task. In the following we provide a “How to Track a Conveyor Belt” with five easy to follow steps, which should improve you belt conveyor. You can find most common reasons for belt mistracking under the topic of Belt Mistracking of a Conveyor Belt. 

Process of Tracking

When starting with belt tracking, always start with the lower run of belt. It is crucial, that the bulk material is always loaded to a centric running belt. Also a contact of the belt with the structure of the conveyor happens usually in the lower run.
When starting with belt tracking in order check for:
  1. bulk material loading problems
  2. idler alignment
  3. belt connection and belt damage
  4. skewed idlers or garlands
  5. idlers no more than 3 deg
How to Track a Conveyor Belt
Belt tracking Problem due to eccentric loaded bulk material

1. Check for bulk material loading problems

Is the belt running centred if it is loaded or unloaded? If the belt is on off-track when loaded but centred when unloaded, the transfer chute should be checked at first. Is the bulk material transferred to a centred belt? Does the bulk material lie centred on the belt?

2. Check for idler alignment

If the belt runs off centre while unloaded check the general appearance of the belt conveyor. Are the idler stations / garlands in line or are the sideways shifted. If yes try to bring everything in line as good as possible. If the belt still runs off centre while unloaded, mark the empty belt at a one point with a spray can, to keep track of the revolutions.

3. Check for belt connection and belt damage

Observe the belt for at least two complete revolutions at the point of interest. Are there any zones in the belt that make bigger movements from side to side, or is the belt statically on one (off-centric) position? If YES: you are facing a belt with a problem. If there are zones with movement mark them with arrows on the belt in direction of the moment. Beginning of the movement – against the running direction, end of movement – an arrow in conveying direction. After this inspect the zone between the arrows carefully. If there are damages of the belt or a belt connection, it is likely that this causes the problem. In every belt connection a little variation of the splice angle is present. If possible cut the connection out of the belt and replace it with a straight one. Another method to find this kind of problem is to film the belt edge with a camera on a tripod and do a fast forward play afterwards. The belt tracking signature will become visible.

4. Check for skewed idlers or garlands

If the belt is statically of centred, it is likely that the alignment of the idlers is not ideal. Now start to skew idler stations or garlands around the vertical axis against the belt to push the belt away from the point where the problem occurs. The manipulated idler should be 5 to 10 m in front of the problem spot. Wait for at least three complete revolutions of the belt while observerving continuously the problem spot.

5. Tilt a few idlers no more than 3 deg

If there is not a certain spot of a tracking problem and mistracking occurs randomly, idlers should be tilted forwards. Do not exceed 3°, also it is better to tilt a few more idler stations a once with lower angles. Do not set every idler on tilt because tilting increases the friction, wear and power consumption of the conveyor dramatically.Wait for at least three complete revolutions of the belt while observerving continuously the problem spot.

If these five steps are not sufficient for your conveyor, one possibility would be the simulation of the belt running behaviour in a computer model to plan the counter actions. However, it is also possible to centre the belt using tracking devices.