The need for speed in modern food plants means that many automated processes create multiple packages of product with each machine cycle. Usually, those packages emerge in multiple lanes as well as multiple units.
Somewhat in opposition to the systems that create multiple units of products in multiple lanes, are the areas of a plant that need to process one item at a time. For example, product inspection systems and labeling equipment often require products to be presented to them in one line and individually spaced.
We offer three general approaches to merging lines. Keep in mind that each plant’s production rates, product configurations, and equipment preferences will go a long way toward determining which approach will work in each situation.
A conveyor with a divert. This approach can work for very small volumes and for a maximum of two lanes. One lane of product moves continuously while product on the other lane is blocked until a gap is created on the continuously moving lane. When the gap is sufficient, the divert places the stopped product in the moving lane.
A conveyor with multiple gates. This approach can accommodate much higher production rates and offers more flexibility with the number of lanes it can handle. The gates are told by the controller when to open and close to permit a smooth flow of indexed products in a single line. It offers flexibility in the number of lanes that can be accommodated. Compressed air is required to operate the gates.
A conveyor with multiple belts that start and stop. This approach is becoming increasingly popular. Like the conveyor with multiple gates, it can handle higher production rates and offers flexibility in the number of lanes to be merged. However, no compressed air is needed.
It’s best to consider your current production situation and also to take a look at what the future may require. We can help you select the method that best fits your current and future needs and customize a system based on those factors.