By Ed Lucas
I remember my first good look at high-speed conveyor system. My brother was working as an industrial engineer at RPS. It just so happened that I was visiting him on a day that there had been a labor strike and they were calling in management to help load the trucks. My brother and I had a good time loading packages that day, but I had a really hard time keeping my eyes off of the packages flying along the conveyor system, getting routed in a 1000 different directions, being scanned, batched, weighed and sorted.
Since then I’ve seen this technology applied in the food, chemical, pharmaceutical, aggregates industries and many others. But I never cease to be amazed at the rollers, detectors, diverters, idlers, robotics and complex handling systems that work together to efficiently and accurately to move product from one place to another. Pneumatic systems can empty rail cars of grains or powders and transport the material through an array of pipes to destinations across the manufacturing floor, weighing and sometimes mixing materials along the way. And of course there are gravity systems allowing the movement of flat surface products along a frame efficiently with nothing but human energy and gravity.
It is easy to be awed by the technology, but selecting the right manufactures, conveyor design companies and technology can make or break your business. Whether you are selecting belts, rollers, hoists, trolleys, screws, bearings, or entire integrated systems, you want to find a knowledgeable resource who can help you navigate through the many decisions that are inevitable. It all starts with knowing what your needs are, having evaluated your performance or maintenance objectives and having gone through a thorough, systematic requirements collection process.
Clearly if you are implementing an end-to-end conveyor system, the feasibility, requirements and design / engineering phases are more critical than if you are purchasing isolated components. In either case technology is constantly changing and you will want to investigate the classical material types, steel, PVC, polyurethane, stainless steel and aluminum. In this industry, though, it is also a good idea to stay abreast of new materials and coatings as well. There are significant advances in components that might be exactly what you need.
Ed Lucas writes about conveyor systems at [http://conveyorsshop.com]