Laying out a good conveyor system can be a challenging task and can take a lot of time and patience, but the payoff for a plant with an optimized conveyor process can be massive!
There are several important steps when designing a conveyor system that our team goes through to make sure you get what you are looking for.
Often times, we find ourselves designing a new system for a customer that has an existing conveyor system that isn’t working quite how they would like. They often specify a particular issue they are having and provide us with a mechanical drawing of the system.
Having these things, we can start at the end of the system and work our way to the beginning of the process, searching for where other problems might lie.
Once the problems have been isolated, we switch those components and compare the before and after, making sure that our changes don’t sacrifice any necessary processes.
Making it work as best as possible is obviously the priority, but we then have to take things like the customer’s space and money into account.
A good conveyor shouldn’t expand the old system too much because, ideally, we would like to simplify the current system so it takes up less space. It helps if we can get in the plant to see the setup to design around any obstacles.
We design for functionality before money for the best fit, but we are always prepared to make options and changes that make the systems more affordable.
Real Life Application
To describe the design process in action, we have a customer who currently wants to optimize their labeling system, but they had several things upstream in the conveyor system that caused this whole operation to be clumsy. We spec’d a large branching conveyor to replace an old, clunky sorting system used to separate their product and line convergers to arrange product for our labeling machines.
It is fairly common that we find other things that hurt product flow beyond the problem raised by the customer.
In this customer’s case, our improved conveyor design took up less space than the current design and allowed us to integrate a reliable, labor-reducing labeling machine.
You can trust that our experienced professionals know how to best design conveyor systems to bring out your business’s full potential.
All you need to do is call in or request a quote for any of our various conveyor products today!
There are a number of different types of conveyors on the market today that all accomplish the task of moving an item from one point to another. Aren’t all conveyors alike?
No, I am afraid that there are a lot of conveyors that are in plants today that are being used for the wrong application so let’s look at some of them.
Gravity roller conveyors are pretty much just what the name implies; they use gravity to move an object over a series of rollers to another point. What you have to watch out for here is that the size of the item you are moving fits the size of the rollers.
Boxes, cases and large objects run smoothly on any sized roller. If you have a small item, be aware that you need to have a smaller roller for this application.
Powered roller conveyors are pretty much the same as above with each roller being driven by a rubber belt connected to the next one.
The size of item being moved needs to determine the size of the rollers.
Belt conveyors are just what the name implies, it conveys an item via a belt. There are stainless steel frames, mild steel frames and now the industry is looking at aluminum framing in a lot of applications.
The type of belt being used here is where a good supplier can be a big help. There are friction top belts, directional belts, flat top belts and the list goes on.
The advice we would like to offer here is to sit down and discuss what your needs are with a supplier that has the above options available.
There is danger in just pricing and buying a conveyor. You want the best price on the conveyor that meets and exceeds your needs and will be of good service for years to come!
There are many different types of conveyors to choose from out there, so how do you know what kind you should choose?
Here are some handy descriptions for conveyors that we work with to get you started.
Box Conveyors: Because the products they deal with don’t conform to food practice, these conveyors don’t require cleaning precautions as strict as food-grade conveyors. They can be assembled with stitch welding because contamination isn’t a huge issue. They can also use simpler bearings because they aren’t rated for wash down and don’t need a waterproof seal.
Food-Grade Conveyors: Food-grade conveyors are conveyors constructed of USDA-approved materials meant for handling food products. They also come in varieties but are all made of stainless steel and use the same practices like continuous welding and stainless steel angle construction to prevent locations for bacterial contamination/buildup. Some specific varieties are:
Easy-to-clean: These are made with food-grade materials and rugged features so that they can stand up to pressure washes and thorough cleanings. They also have a feature that allows the conveyor belt to be raised so that the inside of the conveyor can be cleaned out
Clean-in-place: Some conveyors go a step farther than the easy-to-clean conveyor and add a sort of self-cleaning feature. These CIP (clean-in-place) conveyors can have additions like built-in water sprayers that clean the belting as it passes by
RTE (ready-to-eat):Ready-to-eat products are those pre-cooked meats that are heading to packaging. Contamination is an extreme concern here because any contamination they have might not be cooked away by the customer. For this reason, the sterility of this process must meet very strict compliance guidelines. Moisture is eliminated because it can aid in the development of bacteria like listeria. These systems have to be easy to open, cleaned, and reassembled during the washdown process.
There is no need that can’t be met by a properly designed conveyor system, but you always have to make sure that you know what guidelines must be met for your particular process before buying. This will save you a lot of trouble in the future.
In-motion conveyors are designed to be a cost-effective means to move product down your plant’s production lines. Installing the correct conveyor system that fits your operational needs will increase your production time and reduce labor costs.
Choosing safety features for a conveyor is as important as choosing the conveyor itself. A conveyor that may damage product or is a safety hazard to plant personnel will not do. Here are some of the more common safety features you should ask for when choosing a conveyor system:
Guides are an low cost safety feature designed to help prevent product from falling off the conveyor or employee’s loose clothing or hands inadvertently getting caught in the conveyor belting. Guides are a safety measure that can prevent unnecessary down time or lost labor costs.
Gear and Belt Covers designed to protect personnel and prevent articles from falling in and jamming the conveyor’s gears. Exposed gears and belts are dangerous and can cause severe harm such as dismemberment to plant personnel; be sure covers are used during operation and caution is used during maintenance.
Enclosing Circuitry to protect it from the environment and employees from electrical shock. Not only can exposed circuitry cause harm to employees or other equipment that comes in contact with it, but contact can also short out the conveyor causing damage and unnecessary down times. Be sure your conveyors circuitry is enclosed and protected from any mishaps.
These are just a few of the important safety features available on conveyor systems. As with any mechanical system, there are hazards that you need to be aware of, so Vande Berg Scales is offering you this free conveyor safety fact sheet promoted by the New York Committee For Occupational Safety and Health: Safety Fact-sheets: Hazards of Conveyors
There is a wide variety of conveyor systems available for movement of various products.
You may have a containerized product or have a food product which is being manually moved from one location to another.
Even though there might not be a high volume of product requiring such movement, this can obviously transfer into ongoing safety and labor cost considerations affecting the bottom line.
You may have previously thought your area was insufficient in size for conveyor utilization, but that may not be the case.
Although some readily available conveyors may not meet your needs, a custom built conveyor may be more economical when all things are considered.
When dealing with raw food, or ready-to-eat food products, this type of conveyor design and construction needs to be focused on hygiene and environmental durability.
Stainless steel frame construction and plastic belting provide the most desirable aspects for longevity and cleanliness.
In addition, easy access for inspection and simplistic cleaning are attributes highly desired for such applications.
Additionally, options such as belt washers and a belt lifting apparatus greatly enhance sanitation efforts and reduce cleaning times.
You may wish to review the configurable design of “Easy to Clean” conveyors!
Perhaps you need to convey machined or boxed products in a dry environment.
This need could possibly be filled by a conveyor constructed of either steel or aluminum.
The need may be to move a product on an inclined conveyor using friction top belting, or a decline area where rollers are utilized with the force of gravity.
In some situations, powered rollers may be the desired choice for conveyor product movement.
As you can imagine, the belting or method of conveying products can accomplish a great amount of work.
Transferring a product from one place to another can introduce other requirements.
For example, items may need to be specifically positioned or spaced.
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There are various types of conveyor belting which can accomplish such actions when implemented correctly. You can even establish a small sortation area by using two side-by-side conveyors moving in opposite directions with roller top belting. Even if you’re transferring boxes or product only a short distance, consider the efficiency of a conveyor and the medical expenses of back problems!