Modern distribution centers and factories need fulfillment and trash removal conveyors that are fast, safe and effective. Conveyor systems can greatly improve efficiency and productivity, but only if management chooses and installs the right system.

As globalization increases competition, opening up regions where manufacturers and distributors once operated with little contest from rivals, the pressure is on for these organizations to move faster and cost less. This pressure is driving manufacturers and distributors to create leaner, more efficient organizations. Rising real estate costs are also putting pressure on existing factories and distribution centers to make the best possible use out of the space they have. Both of these sources of pressure are encouraging facilities to adopt more efficient and space-saving practices, such as a greater use of conveyors.

Tote and Carton Delivery Systems

Conveyors greatly improve the efficiency of workflow in factories and distribution centers, quickly moving containers and waste through the facility. With the help of a conveyor system, facilities boost efficiency by more quickly moving goods through the building. Labor costs are reduced as fewer people are needed to manually haul goods around the facility. Chances of injury are also reduced thanks to the reduction in manual labor needed.  Just-in-time and Kanban management methods make great use of conveyors and other efficiency tools in improving productivity.

Standard vs. Combination Systems

The standard conveyor system for many years consisted of one conveyor transporting cartons or other goods and another to take trash away. The standard system typically came in two forms:

  • A single level system where the trash belt was mounted over the picking module, requiring workers to toss refuse over their heads onto the upper conveyor
  • A multi-level system where workers on an upper level receive cartons or goods on one conveyor and drop waste down a chute to a trash conveyor on a lower level.

While these systems help increase productivity, they are also quite costly to maintain and take up quite a bit of space in factories and distribution centers.

A recent innovation in the conveyor industry has been the development of dual-purpose overhead conveyors. Dual purpose overhead conveyors transport cartons and totes at about shoulder-level. These conveyors can accommodate different types of cartons and totes, allowing facilities to process both goods and refuse on a single line. This system provides for a much more efficient method of processing goods and refuse and also takes up less space than standard conveyor systems.

Benefits for Tote & Carton Delivery

New dual purpose overhead conveyor systems provide a number of benefits for faster, more efficient delivery of totes and cartons, including:

  • In a dual-purpose overhead conveyor system, cartons are not built at each pick module in your facility. This helps to save space and boost worker productivity. It also eliminates time wasted on building cartons.
  • A dual-purpose overhead conveyor system uses centralized carton erector stations, which helps to provide more space at pick modules and gets rid of stockpiles of empty cartons. This allows more space for finished items and cuts back on the number of pick modules needed. It also saves labor costs by boosting productivity and cutting back on manpower needed to assemble cartons.
  • In a dual-purpose overhead conveyor system, special hooks used to deliver cartons can accommodate a variety of different cartons. This makes the system more flexible and adaptable to changing needs. It also helps ensure that pick modules always have an adequate supply of needed cartons and ensures that the right carton goes to the right place as needed.

Trash Removal Benefits

In addition to tote and carton delivery, dual-purpose overhead conveyor systems also greatly enhance trash removal efficiency.

  • In these systems, specially designed carriers take trash away on the same conveyor line that cartons are delivered on, thus reducing the electricity needed to power a second line and cutting costs associated with maintaining a second line. Having a single line also reduces the space taken up by a trash removal conveyor system.
  • Items on a dual purpose overhead conveyor system are at a comfortable height level for workers, keeping them from having to reach or bend too much or having to toss trash above their heads. This provides an ergonomic and safety benefit for workers.
  • Overall, a dual purpose overhead conveyor system allows more targeted delivery of cartons, allowing facilities managers to ensure that pick modules always have the cartons they need and also helping to avoid build up of empty cartons and trash.


Distribution centers and factories that install dual function overhead conveyors will see long-term cost savings. The initial costs of installing a dual function overhead conveyor system will be about the same as installing a standard system with an extra trash removal conveyor. However, once the dual function overhead conveyor system is installed the savings begin as efficiency and productivity improvements. A dual function overhead conveyor system also takes up less space than a standard system with a trash conveyor, allowing facilities managers to get more use out of their available space. Facilities managers who choose to invest in a modern dual function overhead conveyor system will quickly see a return on their investment, thanks to these savings.

Richards-Wilcox is a name synonymous with quality conveyor system products. Manufacturers and distributors can work with Richards-Wilcox engineers to devise a conveyor system that suits their individual needs and facilities. The company enjoys a qualitative advantage over other conveyor system manufacturers, Richards-Wilcox conveyors use the heaviest gauge track in the industry and the company’s specially designed chain pitch provides 33 percent greater throughput than most other overhead chain conveyor systems. Facilities managers in need of a conveyor system that gets results should contact Richards-Wilcox today to begin working on a system custom-tailored for their factory or distribution center.