What Is Belt Tracking? How to Set Up the Tracking of a Metal Conveyor Belt

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conveyor belts

Belt tracking is the ability to maintain control of the desired path of a conveyor belt once it is aligned and installed. Making sure a new metal conveyor belt is tracking correctly is especially important because often times when a new belt is installed, it will not track the same as the old belt. After installation, it is important to adjust the belt’s tracking prior to putting it into operation to avoid issues that come with an improper installation. Follow these 7 simple steps to ensure proper conveyor belt tracking.

Verify That the Conveyor Has Been Properly Aligned

Before starting, ensure that the conveyor has been aligned. Put the counter tension roll in its most contracted and lowest tension position.

Observe and Adjust

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Before starting the belt, the take-up roll should be in position to allow the maximum amount of travel, so that the belt does not begin to slip as heat is introduced. Start the belt at its slowest speed. On larger belts, station a person at each end to monitor the belt’s position. As the belt runs, adjust only the top and bottom support rolls. Do NOT adjust end rolls to track the belt. Adjust the snub rolls only if the total adjustment of all of the support rolls will not give proper tracking. Adjustments are made using the principle that the belt will move at right angles to the support rolls and snub rolls.

Monitor for Seating

Note that all belt edges can move in and out to some degree; anything up to 3/4” is normal. If movement exceeds 1” of runout, contact your belt supplier. Let the belt operate for several hours, at which point seating may occur. (Seating is the establishment of sufficient contact area between the wires of the belt to sustain the applied tension.) Constantly monitor the belt’s tracking as seating occurs.

Equip Switch Alarms

It is a good idea to equip the conveyor with two sets of limit switch alarms at each end roll. Changes in the belt’s tracking will trip the first limit switch and sound an alarm. The second set is normally connected to the motor drive to detect gross tracking vibrations and the belt stops when they are tripped.

Make Snub Rolls Adjustable

When snub rolls are used, it is common to make them easily adjustable by as much as 2” on each side. When an alarm sounds, they are quickly adjusted to temporarily control tracking. After tracking is restored, some of this adjustment may need to be taken out. However, this roll will most likely need to remain in a skewed position to maintain the current tracking of the belt.

Removing Stretch

Once the take-up has reached its maximum travel, you will need to remove a section of belt to prevent slipping. This could also cause tracking problems if the belt is too loose.

Continue to Monitor

It can take several days to properly break-in a belt. Break-in techniques will differ according to the belt’s operating temperature. Sometimes additional tracking adjustments need to be applied once load is placed on the belt.
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If you followed these steps correctly, your new conveyor belt’s tracking has been all set up! Now that installation is complete, it is important to monitor for common belt warning signals. Being aware of the state of your belt can be the difference between optimum performance and unplanned downtime. 

To learn more about our diverse portfolio of conveying products, visit rexnord.com. For technical questions and support, call 1-866-REXNORD to talk to one of our technical experts.

Mike Franzoni

Mike is an Application Engineering Manager with Rexnord's Food team. He has been with the company since 2016, but has spent more than 15 years with Cambridge International in application engineering and technical support for metal conveyor belt products. Mike graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Rochester Institute of Technology.