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Oct 28, 2014

Making a Turn with Box Conveyor Systems

We build conveyor systems for numerous different products, but some of the most interesting conveyor designs come into play when we are just handling boxes. Most industries handle boxes at some point or another, and moving them around can demand some inventive maneuvers in certain plants.

In any given plant, you will find obstructions like pillars, walls, and other mechanical systems that a box conveyor might have to navigate around. This takes thinking outside of the box (no pun intended) and implementing different kinds of belting, structures, and mechanisms.

Box Conveyor 180-deg

Making a 180-deg turn with a box conveyor

A common solution to this problem is to use multiple conveyors that run perpendicular to one another to go around obstacles. This is a fairly simple solution, but you are limited to 90 degree turns in between conveyors.

If that doesn’t sound like an elegant enough solution, there is always the possibility of using a radius conveyor. A radius conveyor uses special modular belting which allows it to curve around the desired angle. This offers a much smoother turn, and it offers the possibility of turning a variety of angles. It is easier to make a 180 degree turn in smaller space using the previous method, but we have been able to minimize the radius to a point where it can make relatively sharp turns. It’s possible that these turns change the orientation of your product in a way that interferes with a labeling process, but there are ways to deal with that as well.

You can use a roller wheel for 90 degree rotations. When a box contacts one of these wheels, the leading edge is held against it by the conveyor flow and the box spins around it until it has made a 90 degree turn. At that point, the conveyor naturally pulls the box away from the roller. In order to use a multiple conveyor system and retain product orientation while transferring between conveyors, you might need something like a speedup roller at the end of each conveyor. This would “grab” the box and launch it onto the next conveyor. Without it, the box would be pulled in two different directions at the transition, causing it to turn and alter with orientation.

If subtle orientation adjustments are needed after a conveyor transition, you can use angled roller belting and a guard rail. Angled roller belting can push a box diagonally on the conveyor. If you use this to drive the box towards a guide rail, it will straighten itself out once it makes contact with the side. Sometimes, you might even want to add small rollers to the guide rail to prevent friction between it and the box.

With conveyor systems, there are often many ways to reach one solution, but there are often ways that fit certain plants better than others. Regardless, even in a complex space, there is likely a way to solve your box handling woes.

Box Turning & Indexing Video

Box Turning & Indexing Video

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May 9, 2014

Problems with Matching Conveyors and Metal Detectors

When installing a new metal detection system in your plant, there are many compatibility issues with other equipment that you have to acknowledge before using it. Most often, there are difficulties in making the metal detector match up with the conveyor.

metal detector

One of the first things that you need for your conveyor is the proper mounting brackets. This is usually a problem when switching between different metal detector models. Different manufacturers often use different bracket styles. The simple solution to this is to make sure to ask the manufacturer if they can include the necessary brackets.

A big mistake often made is that a standard conveyor can easily integrate with a metal detector. This isn’t often the case because any conveyor with a metal detector needs to have a metal free zone within the detector shroud.

metal detector

The metal detector needs to be isolated on the conveyor and grounded properly. If there is metal in the detector’s vicinity, it can disrupt the detector’s electrical field by causing ground loops. When the detector isn’t properly grounded from the conveyor, the conveyor actually influences the detector’s electrical field because it will most likely have subtle electrical signals looping through it. Sometimes, even conveyor vibrations at the right frequency can disrupt the detector.


These things cause interference, which causes rapid fluctuation in the electrical signal, making it nearly impossible for the system to accurately detect any metal fragments.

This problem usually comes up because a company repurposes an old conveyor for metal detection. Using a standard conveyor for this operation is bound to cause some sort of interference with the system. You need to get a specialized conveyor from a company that knows what they are doing.

There are many things that can cause these ground loops that you might have difficulty isolating if you are having these problems. Making a metal free zone seems like a no-brainer, but people don’t always realize that even small bearings in the detector’s vicinity could cause problems. Eliminating conveyor vibration goes a long way towards preventing interference as well.

Instead of using some old conveyor, look into a conveyor made purposely for metal detection. We have had plenty of experience designing conveyors to accompany metal detectors, so feel free to come to us with any questions.

Download our Metal Detector PDF

Download our Metal Detector PDF

Learn more about metal detection in food applications.

Apr 16, 2014

Food Grade Conveyor Problems: Ready-To-Eat Products

Food safety is a strict business, but it becomes even tighter when you factor in ready-to-eat products. The category of ready-to-eat includes a lot of average products like hot dogs and deli meats. Almost anything that is pre-cooked and packaged can be considered a ready-to-eat product.

conveyor system

Ready-to-eat (RTE) products go a step beyond regular food grade products because the possibility of contamination is much more dangerous. Non-RTE products are often cooked by the customer after purchase, which usually eliminates the most dangerous things in meat, but RTE products aren’t usually cooked again after being packaged.

After they are packaged, you have to assume that any contamination in the food is going directly to the customer. How do you protect against this issue?

Besides very strict equipment and clothing precautions for the employees, it really comes down to the machinery that you use. Conveyor systems in particular need to be designed very carefully. When designing for RTE applications, we start off with our food grade conveyor as a base. It is built with stainless steel angle and continuous TIG welding which seals cracks or openings.

conveyor system

Easy-To-Clean Conveyor

These RTE locations have to clean very regularly, and our construction design allows for resistance to any corrosive cleaning chemicals. Where possible it is also built with angles that prevent this water from pooling up because bacteria can form in the standing water.

Aside from that, we use plastic food grade belting which is easily sanitized; however, different belts are sometimes required for certain products. Bacon bits, for example, are very small and can stick in the plastic belting, so we also have food grade continuous rubber belting which is less prone to catching onto small products.

Most plants have their own set of regulations for RTE and they can vary quite a bit. We are very open-minded to the design of our conveyors and we can adapt it to a specific location’s specs. An example of this is that sometimes you encounter a plant that requires special bearing types,  we can accommodate such a thing with ease.

Don’t compromise on food grade equipment. Give our tried-and-true food grade and RTE conveyor systems a chance.

Learn more about Food Grade Conveyors

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Feb 5, 2014

Can You Solve Problems with Increasing Plant Speeds?

conveyor scale

One of the biggest dilemmas in modern industry is the desire to speed everything up to match ambitions, but it often doesn’t turn out that easy. There are usually a number of technological limitations and roadblocks to get by.

conveyor system

Easy-To-Clean Conveyor

This is a difficulty when conveyor systems are involved because the assumption that turning the belt speed or the VFD (variable-frequency drive) up will make everything work faster immediately, but this is often a mistake. While a VFD on a conveyor can essentially speed the conveyor up, the software might be set for dealing with the previous speed, causing the quality of your data to go downhill.

Even if you manage to adapt the programming yourself, there is still a danger that the system isn’t physically capable of handling what you want it to. Motors are usually chosen for the initial speed with some head room for a speed up in the future, but pushing them too hard would put a lot of stress on the system.

We do a lot of work in speeding up plants on systems of all sorts. Rather than just turning up the speeds on your conveyors, it is best to get in touch with someone who knows how the whole system works. If the system has the physical capability to run faster, there might be an entirely different problem keeping the system from its maximum potential.

On the software side of things, our programming team can take the desired speeds in a plant and provide an upgrade that will make a more optimized match. This will often allow you to have a similar accuracy with a higher speed.

There are certain things that can’t just be sped-up without some work as well. A labeling system, for example, is limited by print and application speeds. Speeding this system up would most likely require more labelers and more space to work with. Similarly, conveyor scales require a reasonable averaging time to achieve best results, so speeding them up might sacrifice your accuracy if the conveyor scale was not long enough in the first place.

We provide service on systems and will help you get the most out of them. If you would like us to take a look at your plant to see if we can get more throughput on the system, don’t hesitate to get in contact.

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  • Conveyor Systems
Jan 7, 2014

The Scale Above, A Conveyor Below

A customer came to us needing to automatically weigh bagged product in a production line, but there was an unusual problem.  As the product left the conveyor scale, it needed to immediately travel on an incline conveyor to get to an upper level.  The frame for that incline conveyor needed to extend beneath the conveyor scale, leaving no room under the conveyor for the scale components.

conveyor scale

We solved this problem by designing a suspended scale that we installed above the conveyor portion of the system.  By placing the weighing platform above the conveyor, the customer was able to re-use his existing incline conveyor.

But, there was one other problem.  This customer required three feet of clearance between the conveyor belt and the suspended scale.  That kind of space meant that the scale would swing in one direction, let’s say north and south, and sway in the other direction, let’s call that east and west.

The solution to this challenge was the placing of bracing bars on the frame beneath the conveyor bed, perpendicular to the direction of belt travel, and to attach triangular gussets near the top of the frame structure.

Those measures completely stabilized the conveyor scale system and allowed those bagged products to be weighed in motion to a sensitivity of less than one ounce.

A heavy capacity suspended weighing platform conveyor scale with extraordinary clearance…another example of our customization that fits your needs, your speeds, and your space.

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