Conveyor belts are commonplace in factories ranging across many different industries. Whether you're a manufacturer, a stockist or another step in the chain, your system is likely to involve the use of at least one belt—if not several of varying kinds. Whatever type you use, it's clear from seeing them in action in an industrial setting that these machines are not the innocuous and harmless versions found in consumer-facing stores. They are dangerous pieces of equipment that pose a range of hazards, many of which can be negated by the use of conveyor guards. However, it's not as simple as just attaching metal grating to all the edges of your conveyors. Here are a number of factors you may wish to consider in ordering and affixing your conveyor guards.
Access During Use
Some businesses may require employees to have access to the conveyor belts while they are in motion—for example, for removing faulty items from the line or moving them into their packaging for sale or shipment. If this describes your business, then it is clearly not appropriate to cover every edge of the machine; your employees will no longer be able to reach, and your process would have to alter significantly. In these cases, you should consider placing guards only at places of increased danger—for example, at steep drops and nip points. It may also be appropriate to install guards of a limited height to ensure that employees can reach, but not lean completely into the belt's movement. You should discuss your specific needs with the guard designer—and ensure that your belt is running at a safe speed both with and without the guards.
Access For Maintenance
Even if you don't require access to the belt in motion, you will certainly need to be able to reach it for shutdowns and maintenance projects. After all, no piece of equipment is immune to breakdowns and routine repairs. Be sure to install removable panels at important access points, or consider investing in guards that can be folded away when the equipment is switched off. That way, your maintenance crews can have unobstructed access to the entire machine without having to completely deconstruct—and then replace—the guard.
Specific Safety Requirements
If your belt is moving especially quickly or the product being carried along it is especially fine, you may wish to consider a solid guard as opposed to a mesh. These will be more expensive, and naturally will reduce visibility, preventing your employees from seeing what's happening on the belt—but plexiglass options may be available depending on your supplier.
In all cases, it's vital to describe your exact needs to the specialist you've contacted and allow them to make recommendations. However, it doesn't hurt to walk in with some idea of what kind of guard you're looking for, and exactly how much coverage you will need. This will not only make the process faster, but will also make getting a quotation much easier.