Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz, July 24, 2012

Over the past few months, a kitchen appliance assembly plant's conveyor has been failing often, and it's nearly always because a section of conveyor comes apart.

Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz

You recently were transferred to a kitchen appliance assembly plant. Its five assembly lines feed a conveyor system that includes a palletizer (this boxes each appliance). From the palletizer, boxes travel to the shipping building where they are sorted by barcode onto shipment-specific roller racks. When a trucker pulls up to the correct bay, the whole order is waiting on that bay's rack. This system is very efficient until it fails. Over the past few months, it's been failing often, and it's nearly always because a section of conveyor comes apart.

To solve this conveyor failure problem, where do you start?

Begin by asking what would cause the conveyor to come apart. Assuming they are properly loaded and leveled and the appliances aren't slamming onto them, the two most likely causes are:

  • Incorrect assembly/reassembly. If the mechanics are reusing or overtorqueing fasteners, the conveyor will fall apart.
  • Motor vibration. These appliances are heavy. If you look at the spacing of the appliances on the conveyor, what you have is a series of load spikes traveling past the motor all day long.

You can expect vibration to follow this spiking pattern if the motor pedestal/base system is too flimsy. You need a vibration monitor capable of capturing momentary vibration peaks. If these occur, you need to beef up the motor pedestal and base. Don't just weld some iron to the pedestal and hope for the best. You need a strong system, all the way to the bolts in the floor.

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