Getting Creative with a Conveyor
As smaller packaging manufacturers enter the market, conveyor systems designed to increase efficiency and make use of smaller spaces are more in demand.
By Christine Pietryla Wetzler
We all know that conveyors “convey” items from one point to another in a packaging operation. However simple the product may be, the industry is becoming more complex as demand for rapid production turnover, handling larger volumes and doing so in smaller spaces encourages the growing call for industrial automation.
Conveyor systems form an integral part of the material handling assembly across different industrial processes. Rapid growth and modernization of industries like packaging that are continually striving for higher operational efficiency are some of the significant influences expected to boost the adoption rate of conveyor systems.
Simply, put a correctly-selected conveyor system will simplify the task of bulk material handling and reduces the chance of human errors. Because more companies are used more advanced techniques in production and automation, the conveyor market is growing—much more than you might guess.
According to a research report (find a link on our website), the global conveyor system market was worth US$4697.1 mn in 2016 and is expected to reach US$6312.5 mn by 2025. A press release from the company who issued the report, Market Research Reports, says the global conveyor system market defined in the research was segmented by conveyor type and end user and distribution channel. Food processing, packaging and retail were among the largest growing markets. Food was second behind retail in the overall size of each market.
In packaging, there are a tremendous number of uses for conveyors, and they come in all sizes and shapes—so it’s easy to see as systems get more complicated why they are in higher demand. From moving product, marking packages, to stacking and sorting, conveyors can meet many needs along the processing chain.
Because there are so many different kinds of conveyor systems, we’ve got to start somewhere for this article. All traditional conveyors are still attributable to the growth seen in this market, but the smaller operations driving the new demand are most often using belted, overhead and pallet systems—anything that makes it easier to use within a small space. The smaller operations driving a lot of the new demand for automation have reduced floor space.
We’ve seen a lot more of these smaller projects enter the industry as many of the larger manufacturers gravitate to more grassroots and personalized development and smaller, regional companies are acquiring the technology and skills to create much more sophisticated products (with packaging to match).
So where do you begin if you’re a new operation or looking for a specific solution for your packaging line? We could write an entire book on the different case studies we receive for applications across all the markets we serve – so the next few suggestions are very recent products that have come across our desk as valuable solutions to specific uses of specialty conveyors.
Multi-Conveyor recently built a settling, singulation and orientation conveyor for unpackaged pet food product that takes the product in bulk to single-file. A section of the conveyor uses gentle vibration to settle and VFD’s to control speeds and gently shift product. In this case, vibration assists in separation of individual pieces for single filing before a right angle transfer that feeds a customer-supplied wrapper. The product orientation is narrow-edge leading when it becomes single lane. This solution also features a separate “wrapped, packaged product conveyor” for individually wrapped pet food products, along with a separate full case conveyor for a manual hand pack area.
Fenner Drives offers the packaging industry its Power Twist Move high-performance conveyor link belting that provides features perfect for applications that require extra grip. All of its specialty conveyor belts have the same detachable link design and easy installation, making them a superior to alternative polyurethane and rubber belting options.
Dorner caters to the consumable packaging industry by offering USDA-certified conveyors, including the only USDA-certified modular conveyor series, the 7400 AquaPruf. This conveyor is offered in straight, curved and z-frame models. It has been designed for effective and speedy sanitation in demanding environments where food safety is critical.
Dorner also offers pallet system conveyors like the 2200 Series Precision Move Pallet System conveyor and SmartFlex Pallet System that simplify product flow and control. Accurate positioning and routing are key in a demanding environment. These products feature an exclusive pin tracking system, industry compatible pallet sizes and innovative modules. They are specifically designed to increase efficiency and reduce downtime in automation processes.
Dynamic Conveyor offers conveyor systems that allow users to build their conveyor with easy-to-assemble and reconfigure modules. Its DynaCon Reconfigurable Conveyor is made for packagers that require this level of increased flexibility, where workflows must be able to adjust to changing processes and requirements. DynaCon modular conveyors can be repurposed, and damaged parts can be switched out, making it a sustainable solution with low cost of ownership.
Looking to capitalize on the conveniences of a conveyor operation? You can avoid many potential problems by selecting the correct conveyor. Conveyor selection is a responsibility necessitating careful thought. If you make the right choice, you can streamline your process pretty quickly and see the benefits immediately. However, make the wrong decision, and now you’ve just got another problem to solve.
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