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How cleated belting can improve the bottom line for recyclers

A worker connects pieces of cleated belt.
A higher cleat profile and steeper incline provides value by allowing you to reduce the length requirements of the belt and size of the conveyor system in its entirety.

You are undoubtedly looking for ways to improve the bottom line within your recycling process.  Making an operation more effective by speeding up material movement is one way to achieve that goal.  A cleated product solution can provide significant value for recyclers, and in a range of other applications, if its role is carefully evaluated during the product development or refurbishment process.  

Many materials recovery 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 for conveying more materials and at higher angles.  

Here's why a cleat can create a high-value impact on your recycling business:

What are the benefits of conveying with cleats?

Each type of equipment has an optimal solution for its conveying operation, and using cleats is one way to help yield the highest possible return.  One benefit is through increased capacity.  Conveyors running with a cleated belt can often convey material 25 percent faster and achieve steeper angles when compared to standard pattern options like chevron and crescent.  Using a cleated belt, you could also lessen the roll-back that 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 provides value by allowing you to reduce the length requirements of the belt and 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.

What are the different cleat options available?

Industry standards vary and numerous 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 in applications moving larger materials and at steeper angles to reduce spillage.  Cleat shape, angle, and design are all relevant to the surcharge angle of the materials you're conveying.  With several options and combinations on the market, it is critical to have an open dialogue with your belting provider to learn what will maximize belt life and help lower your total cost of ownership.

How to determine what cleat is right for your operation

How the belt is manufactured and how the cleats are adhered to the belt, the cleat design, cleat pattern, and numerous other factors all make an impact - positively or negatively - on how your belt performs when conveying recycled materials.  Your application and equipment design need to be taken into consideration when discovering your optimum cleated belt solution. You should source a cleated product that will provide you with the greatest return, and as such, it's difficult to provide a straightforward answer to the question of what cleat is right for your operation.  What we can do is help educate you on cleated belt fundamentals to prepare you and your team to have the discussion with your belting distributor or manufacturer.

Matching the conveyor profile to what materials you are moving and at what angles your system conveys will provide you with the most superior solution.

What to consider before buying a cleated belt

Because the belt you choose impacts your operation's overall performance, as well as you or your customers' experience, it is important to understand these belt 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 truly benefit your system.  The best approach to developing the most ideal product solution is to open a dialogue with your provider to discuss the conveying requirements of your system as a whole.  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, cleat shape and cleat angle.  Matching the profile to what materials you are moving and at what angles your system conveys will provide you with the most superior solution.  For example, cleat height can be adjusted to reduce roll-back.  Nevertheless, there are numerous cleat options available from a wide range of belting suppliers.  There are also belt manufacturers, like WCCO Belting, that can engineer a custom cleat profile to support your individual effort to reach peak operational performance.

Determine your cleat design

What cleat design will work best for you is largely based on the arrangement of your conveyor system.  If there is a trough and how much, as well as what kind of edge guards the equipment is designed with, which determines the amount of cleat recess required.  Roller diameter will also impact cleat angles and the design.  Another consideration is the return roller assembly.  Without a smooth return, rollers could cause excess wear and lead to premature cleat failure.  And unquestionably, the details of the material being conveyed need to be examined.  As an example, if you are conveying wet materials and require liquid drainage, the pattern could be structured accordingly to eliminate any interference.

Determine the ideal cleat frequency

There is a science behind how frequently cleats should be positioned on a belt to give you the best output for your equipment. Your supplier should help you find the sweet spot between the type of product being conveyed, the speed the conveyor is moving, and how often to repeat the cleat pattern.  For example, if you are moving smaller recycled 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 construction can substantially impact belt life.  A belt fabricator modifies premade belting using secondary processes and tools, like glue chemicals and metal bolts, to add cleats.  Did you know that cleats can be bonded through a single-step vulcanization process?  WCCO Belting, a belt manufacturer, uses an innovative 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.

Don't let the same old belt construction (that you may 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 they can't answer to the considerations above, it may be time to consider a new supplier.  With the proven increase in efficiency and the positive impact a cleated belt can have on your recycling operation, now is as good of a time as any to see what kind of high-value impact the right belt could have on your business.

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1998 9th St N
Wahpeton, ND
US, 58075


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