Variety in automation ensures that the industry is always moving forward and that there is a solution for every problem. However, the differences among varieties are not always obvious.
This is true with indexer types, so we’re going to look at some of the most common ones in the market.
1 – Speedup Conveyor
While not an indexer in the traditional sense, having a conveyor that runs faster directly before weighing can achieve product spacing.
This method works well with consistently sized products, however, can fail completely when product size varies dramatically. It can work in some situations, but the spacing is still dependent on how close the packages were before this conveyor, and the conveyor doesn’t do any sort of aligning.
2 – Drop-down Indexers
This is one of the types that we use most commonly. The indexer is a section of conveyor attached to a pneumatic cylinder. When photo eyes see a product, the cylinder brings the conveyor down so that the product is retained by a stop. When photo eyes or a timer tell the indexer that there is enough space between the previous product and the retained product, the air cylinder moves the conveyor back into the neutral position and the retained product progresses down the conveyor.
This system allows for very controlled spacing and packages tend to align themselves during the indexing process, which makes them easier to label accurately. This indexing method is commonly paired with a speedup roller to ensure a gap is pulled to accurately index.
3 – Pop-up Indexer
A pop-up indexer is a system where a barrier pops up between two conveyors to block forward motion.
This one is used mostly for boxes. It has less overall moving parts than a drop-down conveyor, but it is less effective the closer products get because the stop needs to be able to find a gap between packages.
4 – “Squeeze” Indexer
This type of indexer simply uses plastic wedges that swing in from the sides of the conveyor to pinch off flow when the system needs to stop it.
This is usually used with boxes or things with rigidity because of its nature.
This is also used often in a traffic cop role to stop line flow when you need to combine multiple lines into one.
We generally go with the drop-down indexer because of its versatility and because it works the best for separating tightly packed products, but there is a time and place for each of these indexer types.
Learn more about our Box/Case Indexers