Conveyor systems provide an efficient and safe internal transportation option for many industries, including auto and aerospace manufacturing, canning and bottling, mail, packaging, chemicals, and more. Conveyor systems are not a one-size-fits-all proposition however, and it’s important to find a conveyor that best suits your specific needs.

Why Choose A Conveyor?

Conveyor systems provide a number of practical advantages that many industries find helpful in increasing efficiency and safety in their operations. For starters, conveyors provide a safe and reliable means to transport materials that would be extremely labor intensive and possibly unsafe to move via human labor. Conveyors can be installed in a variety of facilities and provide a safer means of transport than other mechanical means such as forklifts. Conveyors can operate continuously if necessary, making transport more efficient. They can also move a variety of shapes, sizes and weights.

Why Use a Conveyor System

Common Conveyor Types

There are many types of conveyors that facility managers can choose from to transport their products. Some popular choices include:

  • Manual monorail conveyors – Used to quickly move light loads through a facility, these conveyors save space and are easy to maintain.
  • Floor conveyors – Perfect for assembly lines or processing centers, materials are moved below manufacturing or other machinery, allowing the machinery to have quick access to the material.
  • Power and free conveyors – These conveyors use several tracks that give operators plenty of flexibility regarding items moved through the conveyor system.

When considering purchasing a conveyor system, companies should consider factors such as materials, facilities, maintenance, throughput needs, and the long-term needs of their business.

Material Handling

When choosing a conveyor system, one of the most important issues you’ll deal with is whether the system you are considering is appropriate for the material it will be handling. Some key questions you should ask are:

  • Does my facility produce or handle materials that may harm a conveyor system?
  • Is there a conveyor system with sufficient shielding, special materials, or other features that will minimize risk to the system from caustic materials?
  • How much weight does my conveyor system need to be able to handle? How much weight will future projects require my conveyor system to handle?
  • Are my products delicate and will they need special containers or other features on the conveyor to mitigate risk of breakage?

Why Use a Conveyor System

 

Facilities

Your facility plays a huge role in the design of your conveyor. Take a look at the layout of your facility and determine areas where your conveyor may need to stop, make turns, elevate, or fall. These considerations are vital to designing a conveyor that works with the space you have instead of against it. A good design will ensure that all loading and unloading areas, as well as all process areas, are served by the conveyor.

Also consider portability. If you think your company may need to move, a modular design for your conveyor may be appropriate as you’ll have an easier time transporting the device to another facility and customizing it to the new location. Many businesses find relocation difficult because of the logistical challenges posed by moving or purchasing a new conveyor. Smart planning can ensure this isn’t an issue for your company.

Maintenance

As conveyors are systems with many mechanical parts, maintenance is a key concern for conveyor systems. When your conveyor is down, it slows down work at your facility and decreases the value of your investment. Some key maintenance questions to ask are:

  • What is the operational record of the conveyor system you wish to buy? Have other users reported excessive downtimes?
  • How much mechanical skill is needed to repair the conveyor system?
  • Are the internal workings of the conveyor system easily accessible to repair staff?
  • Are parts readily available? How many should you stock?

Throughput

Throughput refers to how quickly the conveyor can move components. Depending on the nature of your business, you may need a faster or slower throughput. When purchasing a conveyor, discuss the pace of your work with a conveyor professional to determine what your throughput needs are and how to best meet them.

Long term needs

When contemplating a big investment like a conveyor system, it’s important to think beyond your immediate needs. Do you foresee expansion and growth for your company? Will you need to start moving heavier or larger items? Will you be changing facilities? These are all important factors to consider when choosing conveyor systems.

With the right conveyor system, and the right choices concerning its implementation, facilities managers can realize great efficiency and safety gains. Careful planning is required, however, to get the most out of the system you purchase. Working with an experienced provider of conveyors and conveyor parts can help you design just the right conveyor for your company. Established conveyor companies have employees with years of industry experience who can provide expert insight into what conveyor systems will work best for your company.

Summary: Conveyor systems can add convenience and safety to distribution, manufacturing, and other facilities, but only if they’re carefully designed to meet your company’s individual needs. Learning a little about conveyor systems and design considerations can help build a better conveyor for your company.

Bio: Richards-Wilcox Conveyor Systems produces conveyor devices for a variety of industries. The company, based in Aurora, Ill. specializes in overhead power and free conveyor systems. A well-regarded manufacturer of conveyor systems, many Richards-Wilcox devices are considered industry standards.