Moving products through busy, cramped production lines while preventing damage and loss often feels like it requires a cartoonish and complicated Rube Goldberg machine. If any aspect of the line slows the process, like dominos, the rest of the production line is compromised. Reliable, flexible conveying machinery helps create a line that runs smoothly from start to finish.
Additional packaging can create a lot of extra cost, but operating without it can cause product lost. To help with that, Emerson Industrial Automation (EmersonIndustrial.com) offers a new, greener conveying option with their System Plast branded, low-back pressure accumulation belt. The belt eliminates the need for cardboard support trays under shrink-wrapped packs. Featuring half-inch acetal rollers, the conveyor surface offers support for PET bottles with petaloid bottoms. This design supports a wide variety of containers. The tight roller spacing eliminates gaps, keeping the product stable. Thanks to the small pitch diameter and 0.75-inch nose bar, tight end transfers are also possible. Because of these features, the surface, which provides forward movement of product, rolls easily under shrink-wrapped packaging during accumulation, reducing pressure on bottles at the front of the line and contributing to the line’s ability to eliminate cardboard trays. This low-back pressure belt works well in the System Plast NG chain, an advanced, low-friction flattop conveyor chain that can eliminate or greatly reduce the wasteful water-and-soap lubrication typically used in food and beverage processing. The belt also offers maximized conveyor life and utilization with reduced noise due to the precision-molded premium plastics and austenitic steel retention pins.
Additionally, Emerson’s NG chain saves energy and reduces the costs of water reclamation, wear paste buildup, and hygiene issues caused by mineral-oil-based dry lubricants. Emerson also offers tools for plan engineers to determine their own potential conveyor cost savings using a new, free mobile app.
Flip for it
Operating a smooth production line often requires specific movements that can be difficult to execute gently. Multi-Conveyor (multi-conveyor.com) offers a single lane case flipper, or “starwheel,” to service food applications where product needs to be flipped or reoriented for processing, settling or palletizing. The starwheel machines can be designed to work with a wide variety of sizes and line speeds. The donut shaped machine will rotate filled cases 180 degrees and place them gently back on its journey down the line. Careful handling will keep the cases, and product inside, from harm. When needed, cases can pass through the unit without rotation, as well. With the use of 11 gauge brushed stainless steel, the flipper offers quality and sanitary conditions. It can deliver cases to both vibratory and gravity roller conveyors. Recently, Multi-Conveyor also launched a high speed sanitary conveyor for washdown applications and rotary tables for accumulation and unscrambling.
Climb to new heights
Operating vertically can provide more room for cramped packaging lines. Ryson’s (ryson.com) Narrow Trak Spiral conveyor offers a super compact design specifically for small loads. The conveyor takes smaller loads to higher heights by offering a larger elevation change capacity than most conveyors available. The new five-inch wide slat design has the capability to en-transfer small cartons and packaging or side-transfer small bottles and containers in a single file line or in mass. The proprietary low friction chain slat arrangement handles high capacity at high speeds while keeping energy consumption and maintenance low.
The new NT 1000-200 model builds on Ryson’s proven technology. Custom configuration is easy with the modular design concept allowing the conveyor to fit customers’ needs. The Narrow Trak Spirals feature an outside diameter of only 45-inches to save space on cramped production lines. It also offers an alternative to gripper conveyors because the spirals do not need to be adjusted for various product sizes and requires minimal maintenance.
Turn on a dime
Moving product from part of a line to another requires equipment that can fit into the correct part of the process and sort product without damaging it. Heat and Control, Inc. (heatandcontrol.com) offers new technology for compact, powerful, precise and accurate conveying. The Revolution Mid-Gate rotates to direct product. Tight production lines require quick turns and flexibility. Previous rotary distribution gates could only be positioned at the end of each conveyor, but the Revolution Mid-Gate minimizes the size of the gate so it can be positioned anywhere along the conveyor pan. Because of this, two Mid-Gates can now be used on the same pan allowing companies to achieve proportional distribution on line layouts that have very little space between weighers and packaging machines. The gate can modulate between full-open, partially-open and closed to maintain consistent and proportional product delivery. It can deliver product to multiple applicators, weighers and packaging machines while eliminating inefficient stop-start operation to reduce waste of product and packaging materials. Additionally, the Mid-Gate offers easy cleaning and reduces the potential for injury like that present with traditional slide-gates. Heat and Control also recently introduced two other new developments that improve upon their existing conveyor and distribution system designs. The WeighBack provides gentle, slow-forward, fast-back conveying motion to eliminate product breakage while providing cleaner, lower maintenance-intensive operation. The Fastback FDX handles runs up to 100 feet long and up to 300 cubic feet of product accumulation while being 40% smaller than comparable conveyors.
Conveying needs can be met with a variety of new technology allowing companies to offer the kind of diverse and reliable packaging that consumers require. Additionally, packagers save money by using machines that require less secondary packaging, require less floor space and can adapt to a variety of products and packages.