Conveyor systems are crucial to several industrial operations across and warehouse Automation around the globe. Without them, the rest of the facilities’ functions like production, testing, assembly, and shipping would grind to a halt.

Some of the most common belt-related issues that impact the performance of conveyor systems include misalignment and tracking problems. 

For example, tracking problems may occur when the conveyor belt fails to maintain a smooth run in its designated space. This can result in the belt fraying prematurely, leading to lower production, missed profit, and loss of time. Additionally, a belt failure can damage peripheral equipment near the conveyor.

Overcoming the problem of conveyor belt misalignment can be done by ensuring you’re designing conveyors with belt tracking protocols in mind.

What is conveyor belt tracking ?

Belt conveyor tracking refers to keeping the conveyor belt on the critical path. A conveyor belt should never stray off its path as this would cause it to function improperly. A new belt can often experience tracking problems. However, these can be corrected by adjusting the belt tracking while the conveyor is running. This can help ensure the conveyor maintains its optimal performance during warehouse automation. In addition, a belt may need additional tracking adjustments after it has been worn in.

Basic Conveyor Belt

In its most basic form, a conveyor consists of two different pulleys: a drive pulley, an idler pulley, and a belt that wraps around them. However, for many applications for warehouse automation, a standard belt conveyor without any additional tracking measures would not be sufficient. For example, loading items onto the belt can be shifted off-center; without tracking measures, the belt would run off and be damaged.

Belt tracking method ensure that this does not occur and any issues can be handled before the conveyor becomes unusable. As well as reducing the need for replacement belts, correct belt conveyor tracking also reduces overall maintenance and downtime. However, a modular conveyor does not have these tracking problems.

Causes of conveyor belt tracking problem

These belt tracking problems are often blamed on the belts themselves, but in many cases, the blame falls on other areas. Poor installation of this tool for warehouse automation is often the root of these issues, such as pulleys and rollers that weren’t adjusted properly or using the wrong belt tracking measures. However, the conveyor is faulty in some cases due to the design itself.

  • Uneven construction
  • Pulleys that are not square or parallel to the frame
  • Stopped-up or misaligned rollers
  • Transversal forces like tight belt scrapers
  • Anyplace in the conveyor, there is dirt or buildup.
  • Defective idler frames
  • Belts loaded unevenly
  • Rusted pulleys
  • Insufficient contact between the belt and the rollers
  • Inadequate belt construction or the wrong weave orientation
  • Over or under-tightening
  • Too stiff, broken, warped, or bowed a belt

Belt tracking considerations

Generally, the belt moves to the side of the pulley that first contacts it. The belt will move to the left if the pulley is slanted down on the left side. The belt will move to the right when the pulley is slanted downward on the right side. One common belt conveyor tracking adjustment is gradually repositioning the pulleys to help the belt reorient. First, it takes several revolutions of the belt to check if the adjustment has been successful, so adjustments should be carried out in small, incremental steps to avoid drastic effects that could ruin the belt.

Conveyor Belt Tracking Rules

A crowned or tapered pulley can aid in belt tracking.

Normally, a belt moves toward the edge of the roller it meets first. If a belt is on a crowned pulley, it will travel towards the center. The belt tension will be higher in the central area, no matter which side of the roller pulley it tracks to since the belt will grip onto the central area as the roller pulley continues to rotate. The belt will be re-aligned centrally as the roller pulley continues to rotate.

Once the belt reaches the center, the tension should be even as there should be equal amounts of slack on both sides. If the belt tips off centre for any reason, the crowned pulley will naturally guide the belt back into position. When tracking a belt conveyor, you should have enough tension in the conveyor to allow the belt to conform to the crown pulley if used. As you can imagine, any angular parts the belt will cross could cause damage to the belt.

Guiding Pulleys

A guiding pulley is an adjustable snub pulley. The guide pulley increases the wrap angle of the belt over the drive pulley, which improves the traction. When placing the belt on the pulleys, there needs to be contacted between the belt and pulley that’s at least 30 degrees of the circumference of the pulley.

Guiding Profiles

The guiding profile is a wedge-shaped element that is added to the running side of the belt. It is typically V-shaped, but other shapes are possible. Due to the high production costs and the limited scope, they are not recommended as general belt conveyor tracking assistance.

Using guiding profiles for warehouse automation is not typically recommended for belts running at high speeds, as they tend to slip from their running groove. However, they are effective in reducing the effects of transverse forces, such as on occasions where side loading is necessary. With wider or thinner belts, guiding profiles should be located at each edge, rather than centrally, rather than one at a central point.

In belts with V-guides along the underside, pulleys are often straight-faced. This is because there isn’t any need for the pulley to be crowned, as the guide alone will keep the belt centered.


A misaligned or malfunctioning conveyor system can harm operations in several industries. However, these issues are preventable. Having a conveyor system manufacturer adhere to the design and engineering standards of the belting manufacturer can help mitigate problems.

Choosing a conveyor manufacturer who knows conveyor belt and pulley design is just as important as this is the best way to ensure the conveyor will work properly. Following the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule and understanding the above properly will help keep the conveyor and its belt in good condition.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *