You undoubtedly are looking for ways to improve the bottom line within your recycling operation. Making the operation more effective by speeding up material movement is one way to achieve that goal. A cleated conveyor belt can provide significant value if its role is carefully evaluated.

Multiple applications operate with standard belt patterns, such as chevron and crescent, to improve upward movement. Although these patterns are workable options, the lack of pattern height loses the fight against the power of gravity and, as a result, conveyor equipment is restricted to low inclines. To reach the drop zone at such a low incline, conveyor systems must be designed at far-reaching lengths. Alternatively, operating with a cleated belt allows you to convey more material and at higher angles. Here’s why cleated belting can create a high-value impact on your business.

Benefits and options

Cleated belting can offer increased capacity. Conveyors running with a cleated belt often can convey material 25 percent faster and achieve steeper angles when compared with standard pattern options, such as chevron and crescent. Using a cleated belt, you also could lessen the roll-back you experience with a low-profile pattern belt. Cleats hold the material and help maintain forward momentum.

In addition, a higher cleat profile and steeper incline allow you to reduce the length of the belt and the size of the conveyor system in its entirety. A cleated belt presents the opportunity to shrink the footprint of the equipment and create higher efficiencies in your operation.

Industry standards vary, and many cleat options are available from a wide range of belting suppliers. What will ultimately give you the highest capacity depends on your application and system requirements. For example, a taller cleat height would be used to move larger materials and at steeper angles to reduce spillage.

Cleat shape, angle and design all are relevant to the surcharge angle of the materials you’re conveying. With several options and combinations on the market, it is critical to have a dialogue with your belting provider to learn what will maximize belt life and help lower your total cost of ownership.

Before buying

How the belt is manufactured, how the cleats are adhered to the belt, the cleat design, cleat pattern and numerous other factors all affect how your belt performs when conveying recyclables. Your application and equipment design must be taken into consideration when discovering your optimum cleated belt solution. You should source a product that will provide you with the greatest return, and it’s difficult to provide a straightforward answer to the question of what cleat is right for your operation.

However, you can learn about cleated belt fundamentals to prepare for a discussion with your belting supplier.

Because the belt you choose affects your operation’s overall performance, it is important to understand certain fundamentals. Here are some tips to make sure you are getting the best belt for the job:

Establish your performance requirements. (And don’t make the mistake of relying on your old spec sheet.) If you want to increase belt life and lower your total cost of ownership, your belt provider should help you determine the belt construction specifications based on your performance requirements. The cleats will be irrelevant if you don’t start with a proper base. Identifying the optimal combination of fabric, rubber, construction, cleats and lacing can benefit your system. The best approach to developing the most ideal solution is to discuss the conveying requirements of your system with your supplier. The right belt construction can provide energy savings, increase roller and bearing life and decrease maintenance costs.

Determine your cleat profile (size and shape). The recycled materials being conveyed will determine the cleat height, shape and angle. Matching the profile to the materials you are moving and the angles of your system will provide you with the most superior solution.

Determine your cleat design. What cleat design will work best for you is largely based on the arrangement of your conveyor system. The presence and depth of a trough and the type of edge guards the equipment is designed with determine the amount of cleat recess required. Roller diameter also will affect cleat angles and design.

Another consideration is the return roller assembly. Without a smooth return, rollers could cause excess wear and lead to premature cleat failure. Unquestionably, the details of the material being conveyed need to be examined.

Determine the ideal cleat frequency. How frequently cleats should be positioned on a belt to provide the best output for your equipment is a science. Your supplier should help you find the sweet spot between the type of product being conveyed, the speed of the conveyor and how often to repeat the cleat pattern. For example, if you are moving smaller materials in particle-form, the more cleats or buckets the better, but many factors go into this determination. Make sure you understand why the frequency recommended to you is the best option for your operation.

Understand how the cleats are adhered to the belt. How cleats are adhered to the belt can impact belt life substantially. Belt fabricators modify premade belting using secondary processes and tools, like glues and metal bolts, to add cleats.

Cleats can be bonded through a single-step vulcanization process. WCCO Belting, a belt manufacturer, uses a proprietary process that combines the raw (uncured) belt carcass and rubber cleat extrusions through extreme heat and pressure to vulcanize the belt. The result is one belt that holds equivalent properties throughout and the strongest cleat adherence achievable.

Performance requirements

Don’t let the same old belt construction that you might have been ordering for years without question slow down your progress. Ask your belting provider to present a cleated belt solution based on your performance requirements. If your supplier can’t speak to the considerations above, it may be time to consider a new supplier. Now is as good of a time as any to see what kind of impact the right belt could have on your business.

Mike Schroeder is a product specialist at Wahpeton, North Dakota-based WCCO Belting Inc., a family-owned manufacturer of agricultural and industrial rubber belting and conveyor products. More information is available at www.wccobelt.com.