1. Establish a proven preventive maintenance program.
Assign maintenance staff with responsibility for certain segments of the line and replacement part stocking. Create repeatable setups for changeovers. Eliminate eyeballing by using “go/no-go” gauges that are accurate and repeatable.
2. Mind the gaps and speeds.
For empty, unstable containers and high-speed applications, avoid using chains with gaps between links that may let the container fall during conveying around curves. Make sure that conveyors are adjusted to proper speeds as per the line operations. Both over- and under-speed settings can decrease your line performance. To avoid line jams, analyze the dependencies on the controls and instrumentation.
3. Choose your chain wisely.
There are performance differences between chains made of plastic, stainless steel, and plastic with rubber tops. When conveying bottles, plain plastic chains have a tendency to chip a tooth or suffer similar damage. This, in turn, causes bottles to fall over and stop the line dead.
4. Leverage real-time performance management software.
Whenever possible, use the information available in the various automation systems or other business applications. This information can produce sophisticated real-time reports that allow manufacturers to fully understand all of their sources of lost productivity. The reports can also motivate the plant team to continually optimize overall equipment efficiency (OEE).
5. Sequence your conveyor system.
A conveyor system with multiple drives and segments is best controlled with logic allowing for starting the last conveyor first and systematically sequencing each until the last conveyor at other end of the line. When sequenced, give the machine a signal that the discharge system is ready and running. Reverse this method for stopping to maintain consistent flow and load balance—and to eliminate the possibility of jams.
6. Consider automatic lubrication systems.
Automatic lubrication equipment is available to distribute just the right amount at the right intervals to keep your equipment running efficiently. Such systems purport to save time and labor while mitigating the possibility of introducing contaminants to lubrication points.
7. Set up a record or housekeeping chart.
If possible, make it a KPI (key performance indicator) chart. Conveyors, especially portable ones for ends of lines, are subject to a lot of abuse, movement, banging, and bumping by staff. Avoid surprises like a blown fuse, a smashed drive box, or a missing dial or caster. People don't like to admit they bumped into something and broke it, so keep a close eye on conveyors and maintain them regularly.