Conveyors and automated storage and retrieval systems can elevate the performance of your warehouse operations, enhance safety and meaningfully lower human resource expenses.
Conveyors can transport everything from lightweight cartons to heavy pallets within your warehouse and they are a fundamental piece of contemporary material handling design.
Material handling conveyors fall into three distinct divisions for the vast majority of warehouse operations:
- Powered belt or roller conveyors (for carton handling)
- Powered roller or chain conveyors (for pallet handling)
- Non-powered conveyors
Powered Package Handling Roller or Belt Conveyors
Powered roller or belt conveyor systems are frequently used for less bulky pieces like packages and cartons.
Belt systems are usually used for moving products along a line, while roller conveyers are used for accumulating products in certain areas along the line.
Invented more than a century ago, belt conveyors are an indispensable piece of most material handling operations. Less expensive than roller options and oftentimes better suited to specific tasks like moving lighter weight products, belt systems have a place in most material handling designs.
Belt conveyors employ a long, looped belt that that rides a metal slider belt substructure or an array of non-powered rollers. A motor drives a pulley that turns the belt and advances objects down the conveyor line.
Belt systems can be made of a range of surfaces and materials in accordance with the function and nature of the conveyor. For instance, a belt surface may be perfectly smooth in segments where items need to glide off the line and may have a ridged surface on segments where products must be transported up inclines.
Despite the long and successful history of belt conveyors, newer roller conveyors offer a set of advantages in many modern material handling uses.
Most importantly, roller systems can enable collection of objects on the line where belt systems cannot. This is a critical distinction because there are countless scenarios where objects must decelerate and accumulate in material handling applications. Accumulation processes are often used when objects must be temporarily halted before being forwarded to sorters or palletizers.
Many roller systems also have the capacity to track objects on the line and apply zero pressure accumulation, meaning none of the products collecting on the line directly touch as they slow down and come to a stop.
Roller systems are comprised of several cylinder rollers that are generally set up in one of three different ways:
- Line-shaft conveyors: in a line shaft conveyor, a long steel rod runs underneath the cylinders at a right angle to them and is connected to each cylinder with rubber O-rings. A drive mechanism turns the shaft, and consequently turns the cylinders by way of the connected O-rings.
Line-shaft systems are the most inexpensive of all roller conveyers, but they can also demand the most service because the linkages between the rollers and the shaft tend to need adjustment and sometimes fail.
- Belt-driven roller conveyors: As the name suggests, these conveyors are powered by a belt mechanism that lies underneath the roller surface. A motor drives the belt, which propels the rollers.
- MDR conveyors: Motorized roller conveyors, frequently referred to as motor-driven roller (MDR) conveyors, are built in segments where one cylinder from each segment is driven by it’s own drive mechanism. That one motor-driven cylinder is connected to the others in that segment by way of flexible O-rings, thereby drives all the cylinders in the segment. MDR segments are positioned in succession to create the conveyor line.
MDR conveyors are very energy efficient for a couple of reasons: a.) they typically run on 24V direct current motors and b.) these electric motors can be configured to run only when an object is present on the roller cylinders, and as a result they are inactive most of the time.Although MDR conveyors are more expensive than line-shaft and belt drive systems, electricity expenses and maintenance expenses are typically much lower than the other options mentioned.
- Segmented belt conveyor: the design of MDR conveyors eventually led to the birth of segmented belt conveyors. Similar to MDR conveyors, segmented belts operate independently and offer a lot of the same benefits of MDRs, including accumulation capabilities.
Powered Pallet Handling Conveyors
Powered pallet-handling conveyors are frequently coupled with automatic palletizers and AS/RS setups. Pallet handling conveyors can typically deal with gross weights of up to 2 tons and proceed at a far slower rate than carton handling conveyors, many times at speeds of two to four pallets per minute.
Pallet-handling conveyors come in one of two types: roller conveyors and chain conveyors.
- Pallet-handling chain conveyor: perhaps the most basic of all conveyor systems, pallets on a chain conveyor line are placed on top of segments of heavy duty chain. Motors propel the lengths of chain which consequently move the pallets along the line.
- Pallet-handling roller conveyor: somewhat like MDR conveyors, pallet handling roller systems use larger rollers and heavy duty chains to join the motorized cylinder to the rest of the cylinders in a conveyor unit.
Roller or skatewheel conveyors are the most common types of non-powered conveyors used in typical warehouse operations. These types of systems use inertia and gravity to move smaller loads though pick modules, warehouses, workstations, automated sorters, package sorting areas and loading docks.
Skatewheel conveyors are made up of many seperate wheels and require very little energy to prolong the inertia of objects as they advance along a conveyor line. On the whole, they propel objects quicker than non-powered roller systems and they have more flexibility when it comes to configuration. Because they’re separate wheels as opposed to a belt, they may be used in curvilinear sections of a conveyor arrangement.
In general non-powered roller systems are less expensive than skatewheel conveyor systems. They are often used for pick modules, workstations, and other sectors where it’s advantageous to maintain a flat surface to work on. Roller conveyors may also be utilized to slow products down that are coming from faster moving mechanisms like sorters so that workers can keep up with conveyor performance.
Both types of non-powered conveyors have a significant disadvantage as compared with powered conveyors: by employing inertia and gravity to move items you forego the option to control the force applied to those items. In other words, you have minimal influence on the speed and inertia of items on your conveyor line.
Conveyor Systems Near Me
If you’d like a full analysis of conveyor system options for your warehouse, DC or other material handling operation, you can contact an expert at Welch Equipment Company today!
Colorado Springs, CO 80907
Serving Air Force Academy, Black Forest, Cimarron Hills, Colorado Springs, Fort Carson, Fountain, Gleneagle, Manitou Springs, Monument, Palmer Lake, Security-Widefield, Stratmoor, Woodland Park, Woodmoor and surrounding areas.