Faster, better, smaller, stronger, more flexible and cleaner. Conveyor companies are tackling a challenging list of customer needs to create systems that allow for the most functional operations possible.

Picking up the pace

Shuttleworth, powered by Pro Mach, has released new high-speed chain-driven conveyors, which are capable of reaching speeds of up to 500 feet per minute while maintaining product stability – a 67% speed increase from that of previous conveyor systems. Most end-of-line operations run at less than 300 feet per minute, but faster conveyor speed can be utilized for straight conveyor sections moving high-volume throughput of lightweight, low-profile products. This allows manufacturers added versatility on their packing lines if they can utilize the added conveyor speed.

“Previously, our conveyor systems could reach up to 300 feet-per-minute,” says Klaus Daenzer, senior plastics R&D engineer at Shuttleworth. “We can now achieve the high speeds, in part, because of improvements we have made in wear and friction engineering, particularly with its effect on plastic components, which are critical components to longevity in conveyor operation. Faster speeds produce high force vectors, which can increase wear on conveyor components. We have worked out how to greatly minimize these factors.”

More Movement for Less Space

Speed alone is not the driver of the advances in conveyors. The ability to move large volumes of product efficiently is also in high demand. It’s not enough, however, to simply move as much as possible. Plants often have limited floor space and need to move a lot of product without using a lot of space.

Ryson Mass Flow Spiral Conveyors have been vertically conveying product en masse, but Ryson’s addition of the Ryson High Capacity Mass Flow Spiral Conveyors has sparked change in the way people think about their packaging lines, particularly in the bottling industry. With the added volume capacity and extended height ability, the Mass Flow Conveyors are able to handle the demands of even the most high-performance bottling plants. They are often used to feed empty bottles to the bottling area as well as conveying filled bottles to the packaging lines.

The Ryson Mass Flow Spirals products are conveyed up or down in a continuous mass flow. Ryson Spirals have a small footprint and provide considerable space savings compared to conventional methods. The Mass Flow Spirals are based on the already proven Ryson Spiral technology and are design to handle full and empty bottles, cans, jars and similar containers. Only one drive motor is needed equating to substantial savings in controls and systems integration.

The Mass Flow Spirals are equipped with extended in- and outfeed tangents to facilitate smooth slide transfer to and from external conveyors. They can be delivered with 10-inch, 12-inch, 16-inch or 20-inch wide slates with capacities of up to 2,000 units per minute. They are also available in powder coated carbon steel, stainless steel and washdown versions.

Variety is the spice of packaging lines

Managing the flow of a variety of packaging sizes and weights can present an even larger variety of problems. Intelligrated offers a solution with the release of the new ZoneFlex™, a flexible zone control for the company’s Accuglide™ and IntelliQ® zero-pressure accumulation conveyors. The pre-mounted and easy-to-configure system optimizes product flow of varied package sizes and weights for high density accumulation and maximized throughput.

ZoneFlex modules enable easy selection of multiple pre-installed accumulation and release modes to improve material handling efficiency and allow for superior carton control, gentle product handling and increased conveyable cartons. Clip-in mounting, simple switch configuration and LED diagnostics allow operators to quickly replace, modify and monitor zone controllers, simplifying maintenance and increasing system flexibility.

“An increasing number of distribution operations are facing the need to handle a variety of product types,” says Jerry Koch, director of corporate marketing and product management, Intelligrated. “ZoneFlex helps operators manage the engineering challenges of multichannel order fulfillment and changing packaging designs.”

ZoneFlex creates high density accumulation, while its multiple release modes enable high capacity throughput.  With built-in logic and selectable release modes, ZoneFlex is designed to move previously accumulated product downstream quickly by monitoring and automatically responding to accumulation conditions. This capability simplifies control logic and increases available product for downstream applications.

Meeting specialized needs

Addressing the issues of increasing workloads in limited space and the need for flexibility, Denipro has turned focus to producing flexible conveyor solutions with the launch of their EasyChain® flexible conveying system.

EasyChain is a low friction, multidimensional conveyor that is adaptable to virtually any layout.  Horizontal and vertical conveying can now be accomplished with the same conveyor, eliminating problematic transfers and significantly reducing drives, controls, installation and maintenance costs.  The conveyor chain is completely maintenance and lubrication free and can be easily reconfigured in the future to accommodate new layout requirements. With a standard turn radius of only 24”, the conveyor is extremely compact and able to fit into very tight areas. EasyChain is available in three conveyor widths of 4.75”, 7” and 9.50” and can operate in temperatures from -10° C (14° F) to 60° C (140° F). Loads of approximately 13 pounds/feet can be conveyed at speeds of up to 300 feet per minute, while maintaining a low noise level of just 65 decibels.

For transporting heavier loads, Denipro offers its deniway® technology, which also provides a low friction, multidimensional conveyor but can handle loads of 35 pounds/feet at speeds up to 300 feet per minute.

Responding to the needs of customers in this way allows conveyor companies to create better products. Since becoming aware that there is a growing concern of dust build-up on plastic belt conveyors, Multi-Conveyor has been proactive in taking steps to find a solution, knowing that this is an industry-wide concern.

One of those steps is the addition of an AXYZ 5000 CNC Pin Router to their arsenal of fabrication equipment. The router provides a factory finish on all types of wearstrips that they modify for belt support components. The initial tests have already shown improvements on belt surface wear, dust build-up at intermediate transmissions and belt surging.

Streamlining the manufacturing process while improving quality is key to providing the most efficient and effective product solutions. Whether building a faster, smaller, taller, higher capacity, cleaner, more flexible or more adaptable conveyor, it is clear that conveyor companies are seeking to streamline and satisfy the problems and needs of the industry.