Reduce Downtime with a Consistent Bandsaw Maintenance Schedule

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How does your shop approach preventative bandsaw maintenance?

Do you schedule routine maintenance on a daily, weekly or monthly interval? Do you inspect the machine after a specific number of batches? Or, do you inspect equipment only after discovering an issue which caused poor performance?

Maintenance has always been crucial for proper and efficient cutting, especially with today’s alloy steels and superalloys. However, maintenance should not only take place when repairs are necessary.

Reduce Bandsaw Downtime

Taking a proactive approach to bandsaw maintenance can increase productivity, reduce downtime and spare operators a great deal of frustration. Investing in just minutes of preventative maintenance per day, adding to no more than 30 to 60 minutes a week, will pay off greatly in cost savings.

Here are a few preventative bandsaw maintenance pointers drawn from the Fabricators & Manufacturer’s Association and LENOX® Sawcalc.

Preventative Bandsaw Maintenance: How Often to Check Each Component

Each part of the machinery merits preventative maintenance; however, it is inefficient to check everything at once. Certain components require daily or weekly maintenance, while others can function optimally with quarterly, biannual or annual checks.

In The Fabricator, LENOX® Senior Product Training Manager Dan Rhodes outlined an optimal maintenance schedule for bandsaw equipment:

  • At every blade change: Check blade tracking, blade tension, and condition of band wheels.
  • Daily: Inspect blade, blade wipers, blade guides, sawing fluid condition and ratio, hydraulic system oil level, and chip removal system.
  • Weekly: Check maximum and minimum band speed range and calibrate if necessary.
  • Quarterly: Clean sawing fluid reservoir and screen.
  • Biannually: Change hydraulic fluid filters, clean hydraulic fluid reservoir magnetic plug, lubricate saw column pivot point, and inspect and adjust blade guides. Check band wheel bearings, band guides, drives, belts, and vises.
  • Annually: Drain hydraulic fluid tank and clean fluid strainer and filter. Replace hydraulic fluid and transmission oil.

See the following sections for a point-by-point preventative maintenance checklist.

Blade Tracks

  • Ensure blade tracks are true and ride correctly in the blade guides.

Blade Tension

  • Check the accuracy of the blade tension using a tension gage. The correct spacing between the back edge of the blade and the flange of the wheel should be approximately 132’’, though it may vary according to different manufacturers’ instructions. Adjust if necessary.

Band Wheels, Band Wheel/Bearings

  • Assess the band wheels for surface and flange wear.
  • Remove any chips that could fill the grooves and impede band wheels from turning freely.
  • Replace when surfaces or flanges are worn, cracked, or chipped.
  • Check the maximum and minimum band speed with a tachometer; the reading should match the gauge.
  • Check band wheel bearings for unusual wheel movement and replace as needed.

Blade Guides

  • Clean chips from blade guides and wipers daily.
  • Do not use blade guides that are chipped or cracked.
  • For maximum support, move the guide arm as close as possible to the workpiece.
  • Ensure the guide holds the blade with the correct pressure.
  • Check that band guides are perpendicular to material vice and adjust if necessary.
  • If cuts become incorrect or crooked, or blade fails prematurely, adjust the guide alignment.

Lubricant/Sawing Fluid

  • Check sawing fluid or lubricants daily. Keep the level to the machine’s specifications.
  • Ensure the fluid flows freely through all fluid nozzles.
  • Only use lubricant or sawing fluid that is clean and mixed properly. Test the ratio using a refractometer in addition to visual inspection.
  • When replacing the fluid, start with water and carefully add the correct quantity lubricating fluid as per the manufacturer’s instructions.

Hydraulic System

  • Monitor hydraulic fluid levels. Low oil level may cause air in the lines and impede the hydraulic system.
  • Watch for sediment in the bottom of the reservoir, as it could block the line and filter.
  • Check oil level daily.

Drive System

  • Inspect all areas with bearings for oil leaks.
  • Check transmission level and replace any defective seals.
  • Check drive wheel of gear-driven machines for excess play, which indicates worn gears.
  • Check pulleys for proper alignment, tension and wear. Adjust if possible or replace if damaged.
  • Check drive belt and chip brush belt for cracks, wear and stretching.

Vises

  • Clean chips from vise jaws.
  • Check for wear and correct alignment on both stationary and moveable vises.

Chip Removal System

  • Inspect to ensure the auger or conveyor system works properly and removes all chips.
  • Check that screens are not allowing chips into the sawing fluid/lubricant tank.
  • Check the chip brush. It should keep chips from re-entering the cut.

Preventative maintenance procedures cost little and pay more in the long run. Shops that follow these procedures will maximize cutting efficiency, precision and safety while minimizing expenses and downtime.

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