Without a true sense of remaining life, it is not uncommon to see belt cleaner blades discarded with usable cleaning life still available. In many instances, these blades could likely have lasted until the next scheduled downtime, and the cost of these premature replacements can add up to more than you realize. That was the case for one Flexco customer that would learn prematurely replacing cleaner blades to fit maintenance schedules was creating a costly problem.
Your Hidden Cost
Many heavy-duty operations try to get ahead of problems and address repairs or replacements during regularly scheduled belt shutdowns. However, this maintenance strategy requires replacements or repairs to be made around the schedule of the operation, not necessarily as the parts required maintenance. This was a common occurrence at one cement operation where maintenance teams were discarding blades with 20% or more usable life available that would likely have lasted until the next scheduled downtime. At a cost of approximately $500 per replacement blade, the operation was wasting a lot of operational expense by not fully maximizing the usable life of each blade.
Because of prematurely replacing belt cleaner blades during scheduled belt shutdowns, the maintenance team was also spending unnecessary time, at $35 per hour, which could have been focused on other critical needs of the operation.
Our Found Solution
After partnering on a trial program, Flexco determined that this customer was an ideal candidate for Flexco Elevate™, the first remote belt cleaner monitoring technology of its kind. The operation needed the real-time belt cleaner performance monitoring that Flexco Elevate™ provides, as well as the unmatched level of insights and alerts to items such as blade wear rates it can deliver for every Flexco cleaner across the site. Prior to implementing a complete site installation, 10 belt cleaners were identified and equipped with a Flexco Elevate™ i3 Device for remote monitoring.
Within minutes, the i3 Devices were gathering data and wirelessly transferring it to the Flexco Elevate™ i3 Dashboard monitored remotely by the operation’s maintenance team. With an up-to-the-minute record of belt and cleaner runtimes, Flexco Elevate™ helped the team accurately gauge remaining blade life for polyurethane precleaner blades across the operation. Additionally, the data insights helped remove the guesswork for the maintenance team allowing the operation to save time and improve employee safety by minimizing physical inspections.
Add It Up
When the operation had a more precise understanding of the remaining cleaner blade life from the data insights gathered from just 10 of the operation’s belt cleaners, polyurethane blade replacement rates decreased from on average of three times per year to 2.4 times per year. This resulted in material savings of $15,000 and $9,000 in reallocated labor hours in the first year alone. By delaying blade replacements until the next scheduled shutdown and maximizing usable blade life, Flexco Elevate™ directly contributed more than $24,000 in added value for the operation in the first year.
Want to learn more about the ways your operation can save when maintenance teams are able to prioritize inspections and repairs? Download our infographic detailing this case study, and complete our Readiness Checklist to see if your operation might be ready to benefit from the predictive insights of Flexco Elevate™.
Authored by: Ryan Grevenstuk, Business Unit Director
In the role of Business Unit Director, Grevenstuk is responsible for the marketing, engineering, and new product development units, with a focus on the development and execution of strategic global business and product development initiatives for the heavy-duty product lines at Flexco. Grevenstuk joined Flexco in 2009 as Product Manager for the Belt Conveyor Product line. He has since held various leadership positions in the marketing department, as well as interim General Manager for Flexco Chile, before being promoted to Business Unit Director – Heavy-Duty in 2021. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University, as well as a master’s degree from Western Michigan University.