Habasit fitters on standby help keep customers' businesses going 24-7

At the Habasit production facility in Hindås, Sweden, there is always a standby conveyor belt fitter on duty. This means that customers in need of assistance can be helped at all times, day and night, even in the event of an emergency.

Five fitters on a rotating schedule

In 2015, a standby on-site fitting team was formed at the Swedish Habasit headquarters in Hindås, east of Gothenburg. While there was already an on duty arrangement in place at the time, it was decided that Habasit needed to be able to service customers at all times. Thorsten Rehnlund started working at Habasit in 1979, and for many years, he was the single fitter at the Hindås facility. “Today, we are six on-site fitters altogether, five of which make up the standby team. While there are certainly work shifts where there are no sudden orders, we generally receive more and more customer requests where we immediately have to provide the customer with a new belt. Some assignments take only a few hours, whereas a more complex installation may take several days.”

Since a lot of production takes place at night, especially within the food industry, many companies require external maintenance assistance well outside ordinary business hours. This means that five of the fitters at Hindås are on a rotating five-week-schedule, where one fitter is on duty around the clock, throughout the week. The customer can reach the fitter via the standby team hotline.

Delivering and installing the belts

Ideally, belts with the properties and dimensions requested by the customer will be ready for delivery and installation right away. If not, the standby fitter will have to prepare the belt(s) at the production facility in Hindås, once contacted by the customer. The customers may pick up the belts themselves, or have them sent to them. In most cases, however, the fitter will have to install the new belt at the customer production site. While the standby team is able to assemble and send orders all throughout Scandinavia, physical visits to customers are only made within southern Sweden. Local Habasit partners are often able to provide installation services as well.

Upon installation, the ends of the belt need to be vulcanised or glued together. The fitter will bring the necessary equipment and follow the specifications for pressure and temperature to make sure that the belt ends will fuse properly. Once the new belt has been installed, the fitter will place a label on the conveyor. Stated on this label are the name and some of the properties of the belt, its length and width, as well as the date of installation, the name of the fitter and the phone number to the standby team. “Should the belt break or malfunction, the operator or fabrication manager can easily provide us with the information we need in order to replace it with a new one,” says Stefan Benjaminsson, who has been working as a fitter at Habasit in Hindås for over sixteen years.

Habasit fitters provide customers with preventive maintenance, when possible

When a customer contacts the standby on-site fitting team, it is always due to an emergency; usually a broken conveyor belt which is causing a delay or production stop. While the Habasit fitters only work specifically with the conveyor belts, they are often able to take a look at the conveyors as well, and provide an assessment about whether they need some kind of maintenance or extra supervision. Fitters are sometimes also able to provide preventive maintenance during other visits to customers, whereby they can adjust worn out belts or realign the belts if necessary.

Some common reasons for conveyor belt damages

Conveyor belts that are slightly too long or too short for their conveyors are likely to become damaged, and can cause damage to conveyors and other equipment as well. In addition, even resilient belts risk becoming affected by what they are carrying. Sharp objects may result in cuts and tears, and small quantities of certain fats or liquids can seep into the belt over time. Another common issue is that of belt edges wearing out prematurely if belts are not properly aligned. Recently developed Habasit belts, where the edges are more thoroughly sealed than before, will hopefully be less susceptible to these kinds of damages.

A challenging yet much appreciated job

Even when everything goes according to plan, fitting work still has its challenges. In some cases, the customer may not be able to provide the fitter with the proper belt measurements, due to a lack of specifications and/or difficulties in measuring the length and width of the belt. In those instances, the fitter is usually able to bring a sufficient amount of belt to the customer, and measure and finger punch it there. In addition to the sheer size of certain belts, they are far from always easy to access. Heavy and compact machinery, confined spaces and even heights (as some conveyors run several meters above the floor) means that a lot of tools, dexterity and patience – as well as the occasional lift – may be needed in order to carry out the work properly.

Stefan Benjaminsson points out that since many of their customers have large production cycles, any delay or standstill is bound to become very costly. “It is obvious that our customers very much appreciate our ability to immediately help them, regardless of when the emergency happens.” Thorsten adds that while the members of the standby on-site fitting team usually work alone when out on emergency assignments, getting support and advice from one’s colleagues is easy. “There is great collegial cooperation, and the atmosphere is just very helpful and friendly. We make a good team, no doubt.”

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