The life of a polyurethane wheel in a carrier system can be dramatically reduced by adverse environmental conditions that affect both the polyurethane wheel and the track. While most maintenance programs inspect the wheels and track, what can be easily overlooked is the build-up of dust and contaminants on the track which, left untended, can accumulate over time creating significant wear on the wheel.
For example, in a manufacturing environment where dust and contaminants are common, build-up on the track will slowly accumulate, creating an uneven surface and increasing friction and resistance on the wheels. If left unattended, this coating may cause decreased engagement of the polyurethane wheel by as much as 50%. In a high-load environment, this will cause the wheel to be unevenly overloaded, leading to delamination of the cover from the hub.
Dust, Dirt, and Aerosols All Build Up On Tracks and Wheels
In addition, to track build-up, it is likely that the wheel is also accumulating dust and contaminants, creating an uneven surface and decreasing contact with the track. As the condition worsens, the wheel cover will lose contact with the track leading to slippage and overheating of the wheel if the spinning is severe. Over time, this will wear grooves in the polyurethane wheel cover and cause delamination due to heat build-up at the cover and hub interface.
In extreme circumstances, the environmental build-up can even change the shape of the track as contaminants calcify and are pressed into the track. If the track is no longer level, then changes in the elevation move the center of gravity of the carrier and can also overload the wheel.
More than horizontal pressure on the wheel, these deformities can also affect the load carried in the acceleration and deceleration cycles.
Airborne Contaminants Can Cause Early Wheel Failure
What may initially appear as early wheel failure or normal wear-and-tear may actually be the result of poor track maintenance, ventilation, or cleaning protocols. Damaged wheels can create unexpected downtime in the manufacturing process and dramatically affect productivity – which makes making extending the life of the wheel critical to increasing up-time and increasing line productivity.
It is important to note that the original assumptions when choosing wheel size and cover are based on 100% of the cover-to-track engagement. The wheel, track, and specifications are predicated on this condition persisting through the life of the wheel. While considerations like acceleration, deceleration, and load distribution are usually planned for, environmental conditions in an indoor facility are often overlooked, particularly when these conditions change.
Scheduled Maintenance Must Include Track Cleaning
Early intervention can prevent early wheel failure due to track contamination and build-up. While most inspections focus on the condition and integrity of the wheels and tracks, we suggest adding additional protocols and consider alternate causes of early wheel failure that may be environmental.
In closing, if you are finding wheels failing sooner than expected in an Automated Overhead Carrier system, consider exploring environmental issues that may be contributing to the issue. Even the best HVAC systems cannot remove all airborne contaminants and these materials will collect on tracks unless regularly cleaned.
Contact us to learn how Raeder Vogel polyurethane wheels can improve the performance of your wheel and increase the productivity of your line.