Conveyors are used to transport items from one place to another. They are used in warehouse, where where goods are kept until they are shipped to various destinations. Nowadays, an order of certain items could amount to hundreds of thousands, a number that is beyond the capacity of humans. Instead, products are sorted and brought to the shipment doors using conveyor belts. If you have visited a warehouse, you will be able to see that products have to travel through conveyor belts before reaching the warehouse shelving system where they will be loaded on trucks on their journey toward the purchasers. Modern technology has made the sorting process fast and easy by using the appropriate conveyor system. There are several categories of conveyors depending on the type of items, the sorting system needed, and the number of items to be conveyed.
Transportation Conveyor Technologies
These are conveyors designed to move high volume of products continuously so that they do not accumulate in the conveyor. You can choose among non-powered conveyor, belt conveyor, belt driven live roller conveyor, and modular plastic belt conveyor. Non-powered conveyor has gravity wheels or rollers. It is the cheapest among all types because it is not motorized. It is used to move items to strategic pick up points. Its load can accumulate as it waits for pick-up but only at small amounts. The belt conveyor is used most of the times because it does not cost much and it quickly moves items from one point to another. It can be used to scale height and thus, it can move items despite the change in elevation.
Another type of conveyor used to transport products is the belt driven live roller conveyor. This conveyor has rollers on top of the belt. Items can be loaded at the side. It also keeps items in a straight line with the use of its skewing function. However, its movement might be hampered when there is a change in elevation.
Modular plastic belt conveyor is made of plastic modules and rods that are hinged. It is easy to clean and maintain. It can handle a few fights. Because it is plastic, it is resistant to corrosion and thus, can last a long time. However, it is also the most expensive kind of conveyor.
Accumulation Conveyor Technologies
These types of conveyors transports products as well as let them accumulate while waiting for equipment to pick them or load them to be available. Equipment has slow speed but goods can be transported at high rates. The following are the different types of accumulation conveyors.
Minimum pressure accumulation conveyor puts a certain amount of pressure to items being transported so that they will move. It is effective on cartons at all times. However, it is not used for items that can be easily damaged or broken when put under pressure. This conveyor is usually driven by belt roller or is made of modular plastic conveyor and is considered the most affordable under this technology. Another type of accumulation conveyor technologies is the Zero pressure accumulation conveyor. It is made of photo-electric sensors and an onboard zone logic that will release the accumulated items in the conveyor once driving pressure is removed. This makes it easy to remove items even from the middles of the conveyor.
Zero contact accumulation conveyors prevent an item from touching the item in front of it during accumulation. Each zone has only one item and for the items not to come into contact with each other, the conveyor belt should move very slowly. It is also referred to as motor-driven roller because each zone is run by a small motor and a photo-sensor. Each zone runs only when needed, resulting to great savings in energy.
System Conveyor Technologies
These are conveyors that have been designed for special purposes and allow the transportation and accumulation conveyors to work together. There are several types of system conveyors and these are unscramblers/singulators/pallet layer descramblers, brake metering conveyors, curves and junctions, and merge.
Unscramblers/singulators/pallet layer descramblers are used to mix and sort goods. At first, the goods are in a single file until they reach a point where they will be consolidated or mixed together or redirected or sorted out.
Brake metering conveyors are used prior to mixing or sorting. Goods are either merged or placed together in another lane or they are sorted into several lanes.
Curves and junctions allow change of direction of the goods.
A merge allows goods to come together. There are several types of merge. These are sawtooth merge, combiner merge, and staging merge. The sawtooth merge lies perpendicular to the take-away conveyor and cartons that can pass through the tooth are merged. A combiner merge is one fed by parallel conveyors where the items are combined before they are discharged. Staging merge delivers large amount of goods in a staging belt that moves to the upper control merge priority to to deliver packed stream of products.
After the conveyors have transported, accumulated, and merged products, they have to be sorted in preparation to distribution. This technology includes deflectors, pop-up wheel in belt sorter, activated belt roller sorter, and sliding shoe sorter.
Deflectors are devices that move items away from the conveyor belt into another lane. It is used with small number of items. This method is used with items that can withstand the impact of deflection. The pop-up wheel in belt sorter is placed at a fixed angle. It lifts an item into an aftersort lane. However, they are quite slow and can only handle a small number of items per minute.
By employing the most appropriate transportation, accumulation, and sortation technologies, items stored on warehouses are moved and prepared for distribution. Since almost all functions are automated, using conveyor belts can result to higher throughput at a certain given time. Putting together products that will be shipped together because they have the same destination makes the overwhelming task simple and quick to accomplish.