An overhead assembly line conveyor is one of the most useful tools that a manufacturer can own. This overhead conveyor helps you quickly and effectively move products from point A to point B without having to lift a finger. By giving you the power to automate your assembly line, it can considerably reduce the time needed to assemble your products while increasing precision and consistency throughout the manufacturing process.

There are two main types of overhead assembly line conveyors in use today: monorail conveyors and power & free conveyors. We’ve taken the opportunity to walk you through their unique characteristics and particular applications here.

Monorail Conveyors vs. Power & Free Conveyors

Monorail Conveyors

Much like a monorail train, a monorail conveyor runs on a single closed overhead track. The track consists of a series of inclines and curves that enable products to move to various locations on the assembly line without interfering with other manufacturing processes. Because it doesn’t require floor space, it also creates critical room for storage or other essential functions.

Monorail conveyors can be used on assembly lines for a wide range of applications, including:

  • assembly line conveyorPaint systems
  • Electronics manufacturing
  • Pin systems
  • Package handling
  • Tote conveyors
  • Pan conveyor assembly
  • Tire retread systems
  • Tool support systems
  • Synthetic fiber handling
  • Progressive assembly
  • Trash conveyors
  • Empty carton return

Power & Free Conveyors

Unlike monorail conveyors, power & free conveyors run on multiple overhead tracks. The materials handled on these tracks can be switched to and from either track at several stages, giving operators greater flexibility in their ability to manage parts throughout the system. As a result, the system enables users to further customize their assembly conveyors so that they better fit their unique manufacturing processes.

Offered in several different formats and track styles, power & free conveyors can be designed to maximize productivity and provide needed storage without occupying floor space. Because of their versatility, they can be used for a variety of diverse applications, including:

  • Paint finishing systems
  • Aerospace finishing and refinishing
  • Extrusion finishing
  • Progressive assembly
  • Fiber delivery
  • Investment Cast Mold Delivery and Investment Casting Systems
  • WIP buffer storage
  • Robotic welding and assembly
  • Machine-to-machine transfers
  • General assembly

Benefits of Assembly Line Automation

Regardless of whether you choose a monorail conveyor or a power & free conveyor, an overhead automated conveyor offers you some key advantages. First, it can significantly reduce your operating costs. Because an overhead assembly conveyor is completely automated, it spares you the need to manually handle products as they travel along the assembly line. This not only eliminates any chance that the product could be dropped, damaged, or misplaced, but it also significantly reduces the cost of labor.





Automating your assembly line with an overhead conveyor can also greatly improve efficiency at every stage of production. By quickly manufacturing everything in a timed, computer-controlled environment, an overhead conveyor not only promotes greater output, but also ensures greater accuracy and consistency among your products. Without having to spend time making up for costly mistakes, you’ll be sure to save valuable time and money.

Second, there are plenty of customization options currently available for overhead conveyor systems that allow you to build a conveyor that best matches your company’s unique needs. With the ability to customize, you can be sure that you’re getting a piece of equipment that will truly optimize your operations.

For more than 100 years, Richards-Wilcox has been a leading manufacturer of customized monorail and power & free conveyor systems for automated assembly lines. Our smooth-operating, dependable manual and power conveyor systems have been keeping our customers competitive and productive for more than a century. Known for carrying assembly conveyors with the heaviest gauge track in the industry, we specially engineer all of our products so that they maximize the efficiency of your process.

With our uniquely designed chain pitch, our systems can provide 33% more than other overhead chain conveyor systems in the marketplace, enabling you to build your products faster, more accurately, and for less cost.  To learn more about Richards-Wilcox’s offerings, contact us or request a quote.

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