Today’s conveyor systems offer so many innovations that increase material handling efficiency that it’s worth the time to rethink your current systems.
How do today’s most efficient manufacturers move bulky materials within their facilities?
Engineers at Ultimation Industries, a leader in conveyor technology and automation for nearly 30 years, point to five growing trends in the conveyor industry.
1. Keep it quiet
The modern industrial workplace can be a busy and noisy place, so conveyors shouldn’t add to that.
Conveyor manufacturers are increasingly replacing older style chain conveyors for automated conveyor systems. In addition to incredible energy efficiency, modern 24V DC powered roller conveyors that use either Itoh Denki or Interroll motor driven rollers also offer quieter operation.
And, because they are low voltage and each individual motor has relatively low torque, people can often work in closer proximity to the conveyors as well.
2. Squeeze it in
Conveyor manufacturers have long sought to use otherwise under-utilized industrial space for productive purposes.
For example, conveyor design pioneer Jervis B. Webb enabled the use of the overhead space above the factory for the modern overhead conveyor.
But what about spaces elsewhere in the supply chain that don’t get used as productively, such as inside a trailer?
For example, that truck and trailer driving down the highway might just be a moving automated conveyor system on wheels.
Ultimation uses innovative tire and wheel delivery trailers that hold up to 800 feet of powered roller conveyor to deliver products to the assembly plant.
Conveyors make sure the products are loaded and unloaded quickly, always stay in the critical production sequence and always keep the easily-damaged top face of the wheel safe.
3. Stay small, stay flexible
Highly automated conveyor systems are great and our engineers love to design and install them.
But sometimes less is more. And while robots are very flexible, the tooling required to hold parts in position for robots is often more expensive than the robot itself.
Lots of Ultimation’s customers are looking for conveyor types like simple belt conveyors or roller conveyors to get their productivity efforts moving ahead.
Lean production, less walking, less bending – and less capital spending. Many of them ship the same day.
4. Spread it around
The time spent commissioning large automated conveyor systems can be substantial. Speed it up with distributed, autonomous control.
Distributed motor starter systems like the Rockwell Allen-Bradley ArmorStart range have been used by conveyor manufacturers for years.
Using 24V DC powered roller conveyors with network integration (think internet of things) can reduce the time spent in the field for conveyor manufacturers and expensive controls engineers.
We especially like the new Interroll MultiControl Card. At under $200, it can control up to four MDR motors, link to various networking systems and provide its own pre-programmed distributed autonomous control routines. In layman’s terms, it can control the buffer and feeding of lines without needing an expensive central processor or lots of engineers.
5. Throw it out, but keep the frames
The new year is a great time to clean up and to think about new equipment. But before you throw out that old gravity roller conveyor, did you know you can upgrade it to make it a motorized roller conveyor instead?
Ultimation developed retrofit kits to convert existing gravity roller conveyor systems using both Itoh Denki and Interroll 24V MDR technology.
The kits include everything you need for the conversion including power supplies, motors, idler gravity rollers, drive belts, cables and power suppliers.
Some of Ultimation’s customers have miles of gravity roller conveyor that will eventually be converted to motorized conveyors.