When conveyors are not in operation, if they have no shelter they are at risk of increased belt damage caused by environmental factors such as the sun and wind. Motionless exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun can produce a photochemical reaction that promotes the oxidation of the surface of the rubber. This can have several consequences:
- Surface cracking: an uneven conveyor belt surface can get caught on belt cleaners and then tear the belt;
- Loss of adhesion properties: this makes the belt more difficult to repair and re-splice;
- Reduction in mechanical strength: a consequence of prolonged UV exposure is premature ageing which reduces the belt’s working potential;
- Alignment and mistracking problems (the rubber warps as moisture seeps into the cracks making tracking problems difficult to pinpoint); and
- Environmental and OHS risks: if cracking occurs, fine particles penetrate the surface and they then pass through any cleaner system will be then shaken out on the return run of the belt. Build-up of dust can cause roller seizure. Airborne dust particles create OHS hazards.
Wind can cause damage to the conveyor belt when it is not loaded as it is vulnerable to gusts of wind blowing the belt off the rollers.
When conveyors are in operation, a covered conveyor belt system will emit less noise pollution when it is covered. This is an important consideration when conveyors are located near residential areas.
How to Reduce Environmental Exposure
Install conveyor belt covers and enclosures, as well as hardware accessories such as wind guards.