Thursday, 02 December 2021

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Conveyors help move material, products, or packages of all forms and sizes from different parts of a process to the next. They are used in various industries such as the packaging industry. Conveyor systems can improve the overall productivity of a process by minimizing risks associated with worker exposure to conveyor machinery and being more accurate and reliable than workers due to their automation components (Packaging Digest). According to LAC Conveyors & Automation, conveyors need to be impact and wear-resistant to avoid safety problems. Each kind of conveyor system has certain specifications and factors such as environment, drive system, load capacity, speed, and configuration that must be considered before it is set up to run in a production line.

There are many different types of conveyors, but let’s focus on a few such as belt conveyors, vibrating conveyors, and screw/auger conveyors.

According to Thomasnet, “Belt conveyors are material handling systems that use continuous belts to convey products or material. The belt is extended in an endless loop between two end-pulleys. Usually, one or both ends have a roll underneath. The conveyor belting is supported by either a metal slider pan for light loads where no friction would be applied to the belt to cause drag or on rollers. Power is provided by motors that use either variable or constant speed reduction gears.” Belt conveyors can also be made of a variety of materials such as plastic, leather, and metal. A belt conveyor’s transportation abilities depend on the kind of material the belt is made of and the size of material that needs to be moved. Norpak Handling claims that belt conveyors are one of the most efficient and cheapest kinds of conveyor systems to run. A few types of belt conveyors are slider bed, horizontal belt, and incline and decline belt conveyors (Norpak Handling). A slider bed conveyor is typically made of steel and has a smooth surface that allows constant movement of material and/or product. A horizontal belt conveyor has a flexible belt and consists of a center drive, gear motor, and take-up. An incline and decline belt conveyor has a rougher belt surface than the others to stop material from moving in a direction that it is not supposed to. Belt conveyors can also come in a curve style for companies seeking a conveyor for turns. The following images are examples of two types of belt conveyors:

Vibrating conveyors involve the use of rotary or linear vibration to move material along the system’s bed, which can be a trough, tube, or a flat tabletop, continuously and in one direction (thomasnet). These kinds of conveyors have a simpler structure and can be used to move fragile material under any condition and in almost any industry. A few types of vibrating conveyors are standard duty, heavy-duty, and vibratory feeders (thomasnet). A standard duty vibrating conveyor can move medium to light density material. Heavy-duty vibrating conveyors can move heavy bulky material with high speed and power. Vibratory feeders feed material into a process at a steady flow. The load capacity, trough length, and vibrational frequency requirements help determine which kind of vibrating conveyor is the best option depending on the material that will travel through the conveyor system.

Screw conveyors, also referred to as auger conveyors, have a flighting, which are rotating helical screws, that are placed within their tube or trough to move material. Screw conveyors may have a spiral blade at times with no shaft. This would be considered a shaft-less screw conveyor where the blade is driven at one end and not at the other. This kind of conveyor can move a variety of materials gently and is the cheapest and easiest conveyor system to maintain (Screw Conveyors). A few types of screw conveyors are horizontal, vertical, inclined, and live bottom. Horizontal screw conveyors, which are the most commonly used screw conveyors, are used for non-flowing and flowing material. Inclined screw conveyors are set at an incline which determines how much material flows through them. Vertical screw conveyors typically perform at a constant speed and move material at angles greater than the inclined screw conveyor. Live bottom screw conveyors control the flow rate of large volumes of material with the help of multiple parallel screws (thomasnet). Some advantages of screw conveyors are that they are efficient in terms of cost, distributing material, and protecting materials from harmful environments. The following image is an example of a screw conveyor:

There are many factors that need to be considered when selecting the most appropriate conveyor system. According to Processing magazine, there are six factors to consider when choosing a conveyor, which are material, operation, environment, footprint, cost, and history. A conveyor should not be chosen until each of these factors is further explored. A conveyor must also be properly maintained once chosen to prevent risks, delays, and unwanted costs in the future.


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