When it comes to sortation, the product is always the most important factor. Sortation and classifying systems need to be designed in a way that handles the product with care, so that damages aren’t sustained by the product or the system itself. We’ll show how this is so important by taking a look at a loin sorting system that we recently created.
When we designed the classifier, we had to first think about any difficulties that one might run into when handling loins. These particular loins were roughly nine inches wide and two feet long. The first design decision made was that the loins would travel with the short dimension leading because this used much less floor space. If this wasn’t decided, each conveyor section would have had to be over 3-4 feet long. Orienting it like this made the system about half as long, while only increasing its width by about a foot or two.
Because the loins were traveling width first, there were a few handling considerations that came into play. The loins are generally round around the bone, so with a normal conveyor setup, it was possible that the loin could roll slightly into the gap between conveyor sections. This could cause damage to the loin, and it could cause fat to be stripped off of the loin which would cause the conveyors to accumulate buildup and cause the accuracy to be off because of added dead weight on the conveyor scale.
This was solved by cascading the conveyor sections. This simply means that each conveyor was set up a little higher than the following one. Rather than passing directly over the gap at each conveyor transfer, each loin would gently fall, bypassing the gap entirely.
The only thing to be careful with was the transfer between the infeed and the scale conveyors. A large drop between the two could cause poor weighment readings. When a scale is constantly shock loaded, detrimental effects can take place. The cascading between these two conveyors was very small, but enough to get the job done.
Finally, at the end of the system, these loins needed to be diverted. With the loins facing width-wise down the conveyor, linear thrust diverts and push/pull-off diverts would be very difficult to use as the loins might not respond ideally to outside force. We used pop-up conveyors to allow the loins to drop below the conveyor instead, which solves any problems due to orientation.
This is another example of how we are able to work out all of the little details in every system that we make.