How could a little black rubber grommet cause such big problems? That was the situation at Stanadyne Automotive, in Washington, North Carolina. Stanadyne manufactures fuel filters for farm and construction equipment. These filters are rectangular canisters, 4” x 5” x 4”, and each has three 9/16” diameter butadiene rubber grommets on the bottom. Stanadyne was using a conveyor with a urethane belt to move the filters from a label machine to a wrapper. But rubber from the grommets would build up on the belt, increasing friction and interfering with proper accumulation. The product would back up, causing tremendous back pressure, sometimes enough to break a plastic paddle off the wrapping machine. The filters would jam and pile on top of each other. Trying to clean the rubber off the urethane belt meant shutting down the line for long periods of time, so instead workers sprayed silicone on it to reduce friction. That was a costly stop-gap measure, and the airborne silicone particles put the company’s other equipment at risk.
Stanadyne is one of the first operations to use Dorner’s new Modular Plastic Belt (MPB) conveyors. The general purpose, closed mesh flat belt is made of a patented blend of Acetal and Teflon, perfect for moving product along smoothly with minimal friction, MPB belts are also very easy to clean and maintain, just what Stanadyne needed.
Out of the box, the Dorner MPB conveyor has helped tremendously, according to Stanadyne’s production manager Bonner Hawkins. Yes, there’s still some buildup from the rubber grommets, but cleaning it off the belt is a snap. The belt is cleaned with a “spray-and-wipe” solvent at the beginning and near the end of each shift. If the operator notices any back pressure, it takes just a few minutes to stop and clean the belt. Hawkins estimates that with the Dorner MPB conveyor, Stanadyne will save time and thousands of dollars in labor costs that would have been spent handling the problems associated with the old system. Thanks to the Dorner MPB conveyor, Stanadyne Automotive’s little grommets aren’t big problems anymore.