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How do I inspect my bucket elevator?

One of my greatest passions is meeting with our customers in the field at their worksite. When I’m called out to a site to inspect a bucket elevator, it’s usually because the elevator is underperforming or experiencing frequent maintenance issues. I’ll admit, with my years of experience inspecting elevators inside and out, it’s usually obvious which bucket elevators have received routine inspections and maintenance, and which haven’t. The cost of replacing worn or broken equipment, to say nothing of the downtime, could often have been avoided by following a simple inspection routine.

I teach this to the millwrights I work with, and it’s something you should implement in your operation as well.

Here is my routine, step-by-step guide for inspecting a bucket elevator:

  1. Review the manufacturer’s manual: The first step in inspecting a bucket elevator is to review the manufacturer’s manual to ensure that you are familiar with the design and operating parameters of the equipment.

  2. Check the belt tension: Ensure that the belt is properly tensioned and aligned. Check for any signs of wear or damage to the belt, including fraying or cracking. If the belt is not properly tensioned, the elevator may not be able to lift materials effectively.

  3. Inspect the buckets: Inspect the buckets for signs of wear, damage or cracks. Make sure they are properly attached to the belt and the bolts are tight. Check the bucket spacing to ensure that it is consistent and that there is no damage to the bucket bottoms.

  4. Inspect the throat plate for position and wear. This small part can make a big difference in achieving the rated capacity. 

  5. Inspect the bearings: Inspect the bearings for signs of wear, overheating, or damage. Ensure that they are properly lubricated and that there is no contamination.

  6. Check the drive system: Inspect the drive system, including the motor, gearbox, and couplings. Ensure that they are properly aligned and that there are no signs of wear or damage.

  7. Review the safety features: Ensure that all the safety features, including the motion monitor on the boot shaft, belt alignment sensors, bearing temperature sensors and guards, are in place and working correctly.

  8. Test the equipment: After completing the inspection, test the equipment to ensure that it is operating properly. Test the speed, capacity, and any other parameters specified in the manufacturer’s manual.

  9. Create a report: Create a report detailing the results of the inspection, including any recommendations for repairs or maintenance.

It is important to perform regular inspections of bucket elevators to prevent potential downtime and costly repairs. For even more information, you can watch our 8-part Pro Tips Video Guide to Bucket Elevator Inspections. Or if you have any additional questions or would like for me to take a look at your Bucket Elevator, email me at dwedekind@duraplasinc.com.