Let your eyes, ears and nose tell you if your bucket elevator is ready for full operation this harvest. Tyler Ginder, Product Manager of Handling Systems at Brock Grain Systems, provides tips on the best ways to protect the operation of your grain handling system and how to avoid downtime during your busy season.
Use your eyes to look for anything out of the ordinary.
- Examine grease levels on the bearings. You should see a small amount of grease expelled, but there should not be excess buildup of grease that cakes up and collects dirt.
- Grease bearings according to manufacturer’s intervals.
- Check reducer oil levels and replace oil as suggested by the manufacturer. Look for leaks and replace any worn seals.
- Confirm that the main bucket belt is tracking on the center of the pulley.
- Inspect the trunking of your elevator to make sure grain isn’t spilling from any holes.
- Check the liner at the top of the elevator for excess wear.
Your ears are one of your best maintenance tools.
- Listen for squeaks, rattles and other noises that you typically don’t hear during operation.
- Listen closely while the elevator is running with and without grain. It is easier to hear a loose bucket or liner when running empty.
- Further investigate noises by following proper lockout/tagout operations for the bucket elevator, and open inspection doors to look for the cause of the noise.
Your nose knows when something isn’t right.
- If you smell burning rubber, check the tension on the main bucket belt and the grip on the pulley.
- Replace pulley lagging if it is worn and allowing belt slippage.
- Belts that are not adjusted properly may break, creating the need for a time-consuming repair.
Importance of a maintenance schedule.
Ginder recommends performing maintenance checks on a set schedule – at least twice a year to catch problems early and avoid major repairs at an inconvenient time. You should perform thorough inspections before harvest and three or four months later when pulling grain out of the system. You should also do quick inspections weekly when operating your bucket elevator on a more consistent basis.
Things you can check yourself.
The main items on Ginder’s maintenance checklist are belts, buckets, bearings, reducers and pulleys. All of these components can be inspected and maintained by operators. Brock bucket elevators have built-in inspection doors and access points to help you replace missing or broken buckets, inspect wear liners, and maintain other components.
Many operators use optional temperature sensors and belt tracking monitors to watch over critical bucket elevator components. Your Brock dealer can add monitoring systems to provide remote alerts and supplement your maintenance precautions.
When to call a service dealer.
For more complex maintenance procedures such as replacement of bearings, belts, pulleys or wear liners, you may want to use a millwright or dealer.
Re-splicing the main belt is also a job for your Brock dealer. All belts go through a period of initial stretch, usually within one to two years of installation. There is a take-up adjustment to compensate for this stretch, but when the adjustment rod is maxed out the belt needs to be re-spliced to remove the extra slack.