All machines should be examined on a regular basis to make sure they are running at the peak of their efficiency. AutoGlide™ horizontal motion conveyors made by Smalley Manufacturing Company are no exception. When I watch an AutoGlide™ in operation, I look at a few simple items to make sure it’s alright.
Of course, the first thing you should do is to observe conveyor and product motion and ask yourself several questions:
- Has anything changed since the first time your product moved down the pan?
- Does the product move slower than before?
- Does the product move straight down the pan, or does it drift to one side or the other?
- Is there noticeable sideways movement or “orbiting” of any part of the AutoGlide™?
To efficiently convey a bulk product, an Autoglide™ must have the proper vibration in terms of total stroke, cycle rate, and timing. Total stroke is the distance that an AutoGlide™ pan and drive travel between the full forward position and the full rearward position. With few exceptions, the stroke should be between 1-1/16” and 13/16”. The way I measure the stroke is to hold a pencil point against the side of the pan and let the pan move past the pencil, thus drawing the stroke. Just be sure to keep the pencil steady. Then, the next time the AutoGlide™ is stopped, I use a tape measure to see how long the stroke line is.
It takes special equipment to measure the cycle rate. I usually use a timing light; changing the rate of the strobe flashes until the vibrating conveyor appears to be motionless. When that occurs, the timing light’s frequency (indicated by the dial or the display on the timing light) is the same as the AutoGlide™’s rate. You should see a frequency of 350 cycles per minute.
If you found sideways motion, orbiting, or an uneven motion of the AutoGlide™’s cycle, then it likely that the timing belt has jumped a few teeth or it may have come off the sprockets. You can tell which case you have by how much it is moving in the unusual direction. A slight change means only you are only a few belt teeth out of time. A large change (also accompanied by a drastic reduction in product convey speed) means the belt has come off.
If the motion of the AutoGlide is normal, then you can move on to inspect the structure of the conveyor. Let’s start with the physical condition of the drive. With the AutoGlide™ running, I listen closely for any unusual sounds coming from it. For instance, when a bearing on one of the eccentric weight shafts is beginning to go bad you will hear an irregular ticking that might make you think of Morse code. As you listen to the drive on multiple occasions, you’ll learn what it normally sounds like and be able to pick out any changes.
With the AutoGlide™ not running, I look all around the drive body for any cracks; paying special attention to the plates that connect the pan to the drive as well as the points where the four drive hanger arms (they are the pivoting arm between the drive and the support frame) are bolted to the drive body. While you are at each hanger arm, take a moment to check that both of its bolts are tight and that the rubber elements of both torsional bushing are properly in place. Once you’re satisfied that the drive structure is OK, then move on to the pan.
You can check the pan in much the same way as the drive. Inspect each pan hanger arm the same way you did the drive hanger arms – bolts tight and rubber elements OK. Look all over the pan structure for any signs of cracks. If your pan has gates or other mechanisms, then you need to check that all their bolts are tight and that no parts have broken.
By inspecting these points on a regular basis, you can get to know the normal state of your AutoGlide™ and detect small changes in its condition. That way you can correct any issues with the least expense and before you experience a breakdown. If you would like to learn more about taking care of your AutoGlide™ then please contact us. We are always ready to help you keep your conveyor system running smoothly.