Making a Turn with Box Conveyor Systems

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Oct 28, 2014

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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