Without a doubt, conveyor systems can provide a number of benefits to a wide range of industries. From carefully assembling equipment to welding parts together, from temporarily storing goods to ensuring their proper distribution to delivery trucks, conveyors carry out a host of valuable tasks. They maintain continuous workflows that substantially increase workplace productivity, while sharply reducing the need for manual handling and the incidence of human error. Better still, conveyors perform these functions in a provably cost-effective manner, as these systems in the long term consume significantly fewer resources than competing methods of handling materials. For many businesses, a well-managed conveyor system is the best possible means of assembling, treating, and/or transporting materials efficiently.
Even so, setting up a conveyor system is not a task to be undertaken lightly. Installation costs can be substantial and can be impacted by unanticipated design changes that necessitate rebuilding the system in part or entirely. Therefore, preparation is fundamental. But how can company owners properly ferret out design problems in advance? How can they ensure that the installation process will result in a conveyor system they can depend on? The answer lies in conveyor simulation.
What Is Conveyor Simulation?
Conveyor simulation is a computer-generated model that displays the ins and outs of a proposed conveyor system. This allows the user to see exactly where the various components of a system would fit into existing space. It’s important to understand that these models are far from fixed, schematic diagrams; the simulation software is designed to imitate the workflow produced by a functioning conveyor. To that end, the software shows the conveyor system in motion, allowing the user to see graphical representations of products being moved through the various workstations in real time and in three dimensions. In addition, the user can also see the conveyor from multiple angles for detailed analysis. It’s even possible to “zoom in” for a closer look.
Conveyor computer simulation may be used either to design a new system from scratch or to explore proposed modifications in an existing system.
Benefits of Conveyor Simulation
So how does conveyor simulation help customer decide if a conveyor design will meet their company’s requirements? Simulation provides a number of key benefits, which we’ll explore below.
- Calculate Production Rates – Conveyors are highly effective in transporting products from one workstation to another in a speedy fashion—exactly how speedy depends on a variety of factors that can be difficult to calculate without putting the system into action. Figuring out how quickly products can be sent through the system is vastly important, however, as it relates closely to the profitability of the business. Fortunately, conveyor simulation allows these all-important calculations to be proven needing to build a real live functioning conveyor system.
- Calculate Manpower Needs – When compared with traditional production methods, conveyors minimize the number of personnel needed to manage workflows. For example, conveyors generally make it unnecessary to keep forklift drivers on hand to transport materials from one end of the facility to another. Nonetheless, these systems require a certain number of workers to manage the various workstations. With a good simulation program, it’s possible to figure out exactly how many workers are needed to run the system. This optimizes staffing capacity.
- Detect Conveyor Problems in Advance – Sometimes a conveyor system will “look good on paper” but not yield optimum productivity. There are a number of hidden problems that may not be revealed until considerable amounts of money have been spent. For instance, one all-too-common conveyor problem is “bottlenecking,” where too many Work In Process products end up crowded into a particular area of the system; a bottleneck will considerably slow down the workflow and impede production. Therefore, a conveyor engineer must detect design problems like this well before the time comes to construct the physical system. Luckily, this is entirely possible with a conveyor simulation program.
- Demonstrate Effectiveness of the System – As we have said, installing a conveyor system involves an expenditure of significant amounts of time and resources. Those responsible for “signing off” on a new system will naturally look for reassurance that the project is worth the expense. By showing a simulation of the proposed conveyor system, the team responsible for its implementation can demonstrate the integrity and efficiency of the design.
- Avoid Unneeded Expenditures – All the benefits listed above connect to the bottom line: Conveyor simulation lets businesses save money. With a proper simulation program, a business has access to a cost-effective way to improve workflow efficiency, identify problems in a conveyor system, try out new production ideas, and dispense with wasteful trial-and-error assembly and disassembly of equipment. An ounce of prevention beats a pound of cure—that old adage applies to conveyor assembly as well as anything. R-W Conveyor invites their clients to explore Richards-Wilcox computer simulation for the finest in conveyor system planning. They are available to help you save money and map out a first-rate conveyor system for your company.