When it comes to filling packages, bags, and pouches with batched or small-pieced product, automatic filling systems have become the standard. They make filling fast and consistent, but they can cause some difficulty when it comes to product handling afterwards. A singulating conveyor can solve this problem.
The way most filling machines work is that they fill several packages at a time, which means they are often closely arranged in rows and columns. Having products adjacent to each other on the conveyor makes performing any sort of automatic weighing, labeling, or sorting operations difficult. There are multiple ways of solving this dilemma, but one good way of converging and spacing these products is with the use of a singulating conveyor.
To understand the problem, imagine a checkweigher rejecting packages of product. The checkweigher needs to weigh each package and determine if its weight falls within a certain tolerance. If you have two packages side-by-side, the checkweigher’s weighment becomes invalid. Both would be weighed simultaneously as a “single” product. There is no way to know what either of the packages’ specific weights are so the out-of-spec packages can be rejected. Even if you did, it would be very difficult to reject one or the other.
With our singulating conveyors, you can take all of these adjacent packages and automatically arrange them into a single, well-spaced line. The singulator conveyor uses a system of multiple belts and motors so that it has the ability to start and stop different belts independently. This allows it to move one column of product at a time so that it can eliminate rows of product. They pass onto an out-feed conveyor where product guides can align each package into a neat single-file line.
The only problem left is that filling and roll stock machines commonly need to fill different sizes and numbers of bags throughout a day, so the system needs to be able to accommodate variability. This is actually very simple with some adjustments, using the system controls. Presets can allow you to easily switch from singulating two packages side-by-side to three or more side-by-side. This is done by activating different belts at different times, and the transition is virtually seamless.
The controller also lets you adjust the time that the singulator will allow between stopping and starting a different set of belts. This permits it to be fine-tuned so that packages aren’t moving too early and jamming with other packages at the product guides.
We have a number of systems that relate to filling packaged product because it is a common practice for many companies.
See our Singulating Conveyors.
See our Multi-Lane Singulator
We recently manufactured an in-motion checkweigher for a company with a problem that is becoming more common in food plants. The customer has an automated process in which several pieces of its products emerge close together from a machine each time it cycles. In this case, it was an injection machine that makes meat products more moist and tender. Many other automated processes, such as bag and pouch filling systems, present a similar situation requiring products to be singulated before they can be automatically checkweighed.
Our customized solution to this customer’s need to get product singulated and separated so that only one item at a time was on the live scale section of the in-motion checkweigher was a three-step process.
First, we positioned an incline conveyor at a 90 degree angle to the injection machine. That step successfully put the product in single file as it travelled away from the injection area. We also attached product guides on the incline conveyor just in case a little extra help is ever needed keeping product in a nearly straight line.
The second step in our solution was to position the incline conveyor slightly above the in-motion checkweigher system. By requiring the product to drop a short distance onto the checkweigher system, we made sure that each product was positively presented to the checkweigher system. That drop also started the process of pulling a gap between each steak.
Finally, we set the speed of the belts on the in-motion checkweigher system much higher than the belt speed of the incline conveyor. That allowed us to complete the gap pulling process, ensuring that only one product at a time is on the live conveyor scale section.
See our Multi-Lane Singulator
It is handy to have products side-by-side for certain machines, like filling stations, but others can’t handle that very well.
Checkweighers, conveyor scales, and labeling machines are usually meant to handle one product at a time due to their nature.
What do you do when you need products coming in one at a time?
The answer is converging.
Converging is the action of taking things from different locations and having them meet, and there are many interesting ways that this can be done.
One way we deal with the most is the use of a converging conveyor.
A converging conveyor can be done in several different ways, but they all revolve around controlling multiple incoming lines so that only one product is coming at a time.
One of our primary methods of doing this is by having multiple side-by-side lines that each lead up to an indexer which limits the flow of each line so they can pass through one line at a time.
This same thing can be done by blocking certain lanes with gates which are timed to open at appropriate times with the use of photo eyes.
Still, some converging is done by a start-and-stop process where photo eyes act like traffic cops telling certain conveyors to turn off and then back on when the line is clear of any obstructions.
It is even possible to bring a chaotic flow of products into a more ordered single file through the use of a type of singulator.
These use intuitive differences in conveyor speed and specially placed product guides to naturally bring products into an orderly fashion, though they require more room.
There are many ways to converge products, but it can be difficult to choose the right way for your particular plant.
Let us help you with the correct solution!
See our Merging & Converging Conveyors