The need for line converging is growing every day. There seems to be more and more roll stock product being produced every year which creates a need for proper handling of the product after exiting a roll stock machine.
What are the challenges and what are the solutions?
- The first challenge is out-of-weight-range packages unless you are running catch weight product. The industry is looking at different ways to get a weight of the product prior to filling the pouch.
Solution: A unit has been developed where we can weigh prior to filling the pouch. These units are out in the field and are performing very well; however, this is only working with flowable bulk product.
2. The second challenge would be checkweighing the finished product when they are coming out 2, 3, or 4 wide, and sometimes two deep.
Solution: There are line convergers being built today that actually work. These units have progressed from gates opening at different times to units with stops that push the product off at different intervals to the new units that run with a specific number of belts for a certain number of products being discharged. The new units can singulate whatever number of products is being discharged on each cycle.
- The third challenge would be checkweighing fixed weight product and possibly sorting different weights.
Solution: There are units being built that can easily handle the speed of any roll stock unit. PPM has never really been the issue.
These units can be “Legal for Trade” and give you the ability to sort different weights into specific bins for boxing.
- The fourth challenge would be the ability to weigh price label each piece. The stability of product coming out of a roll stock unit tends to rock one way or the other making accurate label application very hard.
Solution: Use a Weigh Price Labeling unit where we control the piece from start to finish. There are two ways of doing it. One would be to use a guiding system that spans the length of the unit. The second would be to use a weigh price labeler with bottom labelers to tip each product over and apply the labels to the flat side from the bottom.
If you are currently using roll stock types of equipment and are having challenges with the finished product, talk to one of your suppliers that have the ability to handle the different options offered above.
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.
Time and space are important factors when bringing together lines of product flow to one main operational conveyor. Of course these are aspects to efficiency in any operation, but especially when it comes to manipulating product in one coordinated line of flow for additional action. For example, products may need to be positioned and subsequently labeled after coming from different production lines. Sometimes the product lines may consist of different sizes of packages. When this situation exists, it is referred to as chaotic packaging flow, and requires system flexibility to adjust to the requirements.
Regardless of chaotic or consistent packaging operations, as things move along and lines are merged, various types of indexer methods may be employed to preclude traffic jams or collisions which could result in product damage or system down time. Neither of which is acceptable for efficient operations. Indexers are designed to momentarily interrupt movement on one conveyor to provide for smooth transitions, separation, and commingling of product lines.
Some indexing or singulation is sometimes accomplished by multiple side-by
You may have several conveyor lines in different areas of production operations and desire to join those lines together at various points. Space is always a premium and such activity such as automatically merging material to specified locations can be a masterful stroke in overall efficiency.
For example, various items could be packaged and sent on their way to a shipping location. As items head on their way from one department, they could be weighed, labeled, and sorted accordingly to specific shipping points. The items may be relocated to other conveyors by pneumatic push, pull, or drop divert actions according to specified settings in a control system. Controls can be triggered by weight, label designation, or simply set dimensions recognized and triggered by photo eye placement.
Sometimes items simply come to a main conveyor belt by virtue of progression down gravity fed rollers and subsequently dropping lightly in a specified place. Physical placement may sometimes be introduced according to mechanical manipulation. For example, a box may be held in place or released according to a triggering device. Most often, this is referred to as an indexing system.
In addition to indexing placement, items sometimes gravitate, or are power merged by use of directional belting. This may occur prior to, or in conjunction at the point where one belt meets up with another. Speed is sometimes increased on some belting to enhance product separation prior to other possible activities down the processing road.
Occasionally, where hand selection of small circular containers is necessary, product is introduced from a smooth angular belt a smooth circular table where people may be gathered to provide specifically required manipulation and handling.
In some cases, such activity may be entirely robotic.
Thus, there are many methods of conveyor convergence. You just need to determine what is logical, efficient, and economically correct for your needs.
There are many plants that run production lines where there are multiple lines of product on a single conveyor or where products are spread all over the conveyor. Because most weighing and labeling processes require a single line of product, something is needed to align the products. This is the reason for using a converging conveyor.
There are numerous ways to align products using a conveyor, but certain methods work for some products and not for others. You could wind up with a mess on your hands if you don’t match the converging conveyor with the product.
With some product flows, converging products is as easy as adding product guides which angle products towards the center of the conveyor. This allows products to align themselves with their own natural forward movement. Unfortunately, with some products, this can just turn into a traffic jam because the guide rails angle in and can create a bottleneck.
One way to converge products is by using dual or multiple indexers before allowing products to proceed to centering product guides.We make several converging systems for these products. These indexers drop-down to block the flow of one side of the conveyor and pop-up back up to allow one product at a time from each side. This works for products where there are distinct lines of product on one conveyor.
Another way is to make a series of pneumatic actuator gates which release products sequentially rather than all at once so that products can avoid running into one another.
Some companies use special combinations of directional roller-belted conveyors and conveyor speeds which can naturally center and space products, but these types of singulator conveyors take a little more space to do their work.
We even design singulator systems that can handle four or more products while they are all side-by-side on the same conveyor. As an example, this can be especially useful for vacuum packaging environments because they are often filling several small packages side-by-side.
There are so many options to be had when it comes to converging systems that it might seem overwhelming to try to get the right match for your product.
Don’t fret. We can help you make the right converging conveyor selection!