Frequently there is a need to bring packaging together from more than one conveyor system.
For example, there may be more than one segment of operations with different size packaging coming together and headed for the shipping area.
The packages may be of different sizes and of course weight.
There could be a problem with the various packages slamming into each other and disturbing the desired alignment or possibly packaging damage.
A common solution to this is the individual indexing of packages according to the time and space provided.
Location, detection and apparatus activation is commonly the function of well placed photo eyes.
Placing of the photo eyes and the timing sequence is of course critical to proper indexing.
Additionally, if boxes should congest behind each other on the indexer, the belting or rollers should provide for little or no friction buildup, or damage to the packaging.
Belting with built in rollers is frequently used where heavy packaging is involved as a solution for this when necessary.
When progression is allowed, a speed-up transition is an excellent solution to provide desired spacing as packaging merges on to belting from an indexer.
Variable speed operation of the various converging conveyors is obviously required to tune the appropriate and desired package positioning.
One must be conscious to insure proper alignment of components following any corrective or cleaning actions.
Structural durability should also be a strong consideration when indexing conveyor additions are introduced.
The need may exist for equipment of greater capacity to accomplish the efficiencies desired.
Preventive care is prudent for all areas of converging packages.
Conveyor scales, checkweighers, and labeling machines are all extremely useful, but you have to know how to handle them and how to optimize product flow to work with them.
Most conveyor scales and labelers require packages to come across one at a time because they can’t get a correct weight reading for each product if multiples are crossing at one time. This can be difficult to negotiate in certain environments.
or example, a shipping environment can often have chaotic flow and a vacuum-packing operation can often have multiple packages running side-by-side. What you need in this situation is a converging conveyors or a singulator. Both of these are types of conveyors specifically designed to take multiple products and merge them into a single file line.
When combining lines, it is important that everything maintains good spacing, so no jams are produced when products are put into a single line.
This can be done by stopping and starting conveyors or by using some sort of mechanical stops.
A common way that we do this is by using multiple indexers. These stop incoming product by dropping down below the conveyor height so that products come to rest at a stop.
These products are often accounted for with photo eyes and encoders so the indexers can know when to lift up, allowing the product to move on.
These side-by-side indexers alternate, moving up and down so that only one line is allowing product through at a time.
As they are released, they often go over a speed-up conveyor which brings the products to an acceptable distance so that no time is wasted.
After that they are guided to a central line location with special roller conveyors and guide rails.
This can be done in other ways too, including conveyors which are started and stopped through photo eye detection.
A special converger that we work on allows you to have multiple products side-by-side on a single line. The conveyor is made of several length-wise sections, so a half or a third of the conveyor can stop allowing the rest of the conveyor to continue forward.
It is innovations like these that make our products special because we understand that no two plants are necessarily the same.
Let us find a specific solution for you!
Are All Line Convergers, Mergers, and Conveyors the same? Things you should know!
The need for equipment to automatically align products into a single file line is becoming greater every day.
Companies want to reduce labor cost by replacing people with automatic units that deliver the packages to an automatic labeler or Weigh Price Labeling (WPL) piece of equipment.
The equipment that is available on the market today works, however, there are different ways to align different types of products.
What works for which type of product is what we will address here.
What are the different options available?
- Gate Converger
- Belt Converger
- Push Converger
Convergers are normally needed when a company has a form-filled type piece of equipment.
There are a number of convergers on the market today and are being used in all types of packaging.
The product comes out of this type of equipment in a 2, 3 or 4 up manner, with some units discharging 2 deep. This adds a challenge to the process of singulating the packages.
The product is normally discharged in a pulse form meaning that the product is coming in groups of anywhere from 2 to 8 packages per cycle.
The convergers are usually ran by a program on a computer or a PLC. These systems can be as simple or as complicated as you want them to be.
The two separate operating systems offer completely different results.
If you need real time piece count, you may want to go with a computer driven system.
The Gate Converger
This converger is used with a type of product that is consistent in size and has rounded edges.
The product is usually a light weight product that the unit needs to keep in lanes.
As the lanes fill, a photo eye detects product and the unit will run its cycle to discharge in a single manner.
Usually one lane will be constantly open and the others will open in a timely order.
The Belt Converger
The belt converger is a series of small rubber belts spaced to meet the needs of the package.
These belts start and stop independently from each other which gives it the ability to discharge products in a timely fashion.
This converger is typically used with a product that is heavier and has sharp pointed corners. These packages are harder to handle due to the sharp points; the points seem to catch any crack or crevice that the package comes into contact with.
These units will usually work for the majority of applications in the field today.
The Push Converger
The push converger is a unit that receives product in a 2 up fashion. It can be 2 packages side-by-side or be 2 up and 2 deep.
The unit will let one lane run through and the other lane will run into a stop. Once the run through has cleared the unit, a piston will gently push the stopped product over on the belt where it will advance out of the unit.
If product has been delivered in a 2 up, 2 deep manner, a speed up belt will pull a gap in the product, enabling the package to be auto-labeled or WPL down line.
The above three types of equipment come with different prices.
Make sure your supplier knows what type of product you are trying to get into a single file line.
Show them every different type of packages you are currently using; look for future applications as to what you may be doing at a later date. All of this will improve the performance of the equipment.
As conveyors move products throughout a plant there is the potential for traffic jams and collisions.
That’s because multiple lines often need to converge.
For example, rather than buying multiple labeling stations, you will usually save money by merging various lines into one.
Once you have those products in one line, your single labeling station will be more fully utilized.
The same principle applies when conveying products to a warehouse or to a shipping department.
Careful thought should be given to how you merge products.
In our years of experience in designing and building converging conveyors we have found that different situations require different converging mechanisms.
For boxed product feeding onto a conveyor at a 90 degree angle, we usually utilize an indexing system that includes photo eyes that activate a drop down stop, low-friction or passive roller conveyor belting, and speed up rollers to advance the box at the proper time.
Sometimes it’s necessary to change the orientation of a box just prior to the above process.
We have accomplished this with something as simple as a small wheel and a bolt.
By positioning the wheel to grab a corner of the box, the movement of the conveyor turns the box the required 90 degrees as it advances.
Why go all high-tech and expensive if you don’t have to re-invent the wheel?
When we have been asked to converge food products, such as tray pack foods or chubs, prior to being boxed, we have found that gates can be a great choice.
As the products approach a narrowing area, the gates drop down to stop the forward progress as necessary.
Then, following the logic of the software program, one gate at a time opens allowing a product to proceed.
When that product contacts a guide rail, it is successfully merged into the single file line.
Additionally, activated roller belting can be a relatively simple but effective mechanism in converging conveyors, as can multiple belts running at different speeds.
When we are asked to design converging conveyor systems, we carefully look at the characteristics of the items to be merged, the speeds involved, and the space available and recommend that mechanism that our experience has shown to be the most appropriate.
What is a converging conveyor?
To converge means “to come together from different directions,” and that is exactly what this system does. It takes multiple lines of product and combines them into one to adjust for machines down the line.
Many high-volume environments run multiple conveyor lines, but don’t have the amount of machinery to, for example, weigh or check products for metal in each line individually. One such environment is a plant where product is dispensed into vacuum-sealed packages.
Bags are often filled with multiple lines side-by-side and multiple bags are often filled at the same time on each conveyor. Picture three filling lines side-by-side where machines fill two packages deep on each line. Every time the machines dispense product, six bags are filled and then move forward.
These six bags now need to be placed onto one line.
The converging conveyor accomplishes this through the careful use of gates and photo eyes.
The converging system stops the incoming packages using either some sort of gate or a photo eye trigger that stops the conveyor (like a traffic cop).
With a combination of intuitive HMI (human-machine interface), detailed software design, and photo eyes, the converging system can open gates to let one line go at a time.
Once the product from one line passes a set of photo eyes, another line opens to release its products, and this repeats as further product comes to the converging conveyor. These products are guided towards a single conveyor by product guide rails. This allows for seamless transition from these 6 vacuum-sealed packages onto one conveyor before the next cycle of packages arrives.
Basically, it all comes down to very precise timing in the software and the gates and to careful photo eye placement.
If you have a vacuum packaging machine or anything with multiple lines, a converging conveyor might be exactly what you are looking for, but make sure that you buy from someone who knows how to set the system up right!