Overcoming Conveyor Design Challenges

Jul 20, 2023 | Conveyor Design | 0 comments

For systems integrators, designing a conveyor system can often seem like navigating a complex labyrinth. The combined components that go into creating an entire industrial operation necessitate a comprehensive approach that considers every aspect of the product, its operating environment, and the unique challenges that may arise.

To succeed in such an endeavor, systems integrators require meaningful collaboration with a partner who deeply understands the complex design process. In this article, we provide a detailed guide to assist you in confidently approaching this intricate task, ultimately enabling you to excel within an increasingly dynamic industrial landscape.

Challenge 1: Managing Space Constraints

As an integrator, you may often find yourself navigating a maze of pre-existing equipment and infrastructure in a project area that your new system design must not only respect but also thrive within. The challenge begins when attempting to create a conveyor system that fits within the given floorplan and seamlessly integrates with an existing production line while also guaranteeing to deliver optimal efficiency and productivity within the allocated area.

In addition, the new system design must address the projected trajectory of growth. As businesses grow, conveyor systems must be expanded or reconfigured to meet increasing demand and safeguard long-term investments. Designing a flexible system that can easily adapt to future changes within a limited space is no easy task but requires thoughtful planning and advanced foresight. In essence, working with space constraints is not simply a hurdle but an integral part of the design process that requires innovative solutions, customization, and scalability.

Challenge 2: Understanding the Product

Another unique set of challenges is how to properly evaluate goods that a conveyor system is regularly built to handle. While size and weight are often recognized as the most critical elements, other aspects that add layers of complexity to the design process include product shape, packaging, material properties, temperature, and corrosiveness.

For instance, irregularly-shaped, fragile, or slippery products demand customized handling through soft-touch components or grip surfaces. Goods that are packaged in static-sensitive materials may also require specialized conveyor belts to mitigate static buildup and thereby prevent product damage. When temperature and corrosiveness are important factors, a conveyor may need specific coatings to withstand damage and ensure the longevity of the system.

The handling challenges also address critical considerations of how the product and the conveyor system must work together for desired output. For instance, the requirement for special product handling could compromise the system’s target speed and overall efficiency, which significantly impacts the throughput. Again, all considerations must be thoroughly understood so that each endeavor focuses not merely on optimal performance but also on preventing product damage, increasing operational efficiency, and prolonging the system’s overall lifespan.

Challenge 3: Accommodating the Ticking Clock

In the hustle and bustle of production facilities, time is not just money but the heartbeat that keeps operations alive. Each conveyor system plays the role of a conductor, setting the tempo for the entire orchestra of industrial processes. While the need for speed varies widely across industries and stages of production, a truly efficient system ensures that each product reaches its destination in the shortest possible time without compromising its safety.

At the same time, certain productions may require additional time for inspection, assembly, cooling, and other forms of treatment. In such cases, the conveyor’s tempo may need to be slowed in one location while remaining synchronized with upstream and downstream processes to prevent bottlenecks and maintain an overall smooth and consistent flow.

In essence, each conveyor system requires an appropriate design that aligns each part of the process into a harmonious rhythm. The entire operation’s tempo must be carefully calculated to ensure that the rhythm of production does not miss a beat but strikes the right balance between both speed and precision and also urgency and care.


Charting a Path to Success: 5 Strategies to Effectively Handle Design Challenges

As the road to realizing the full potential of conveyor systems is laden with complexities, a holistic approach is necessary to achieve success. The journey begins with building strategic partnerships between integrators and conveyor manufacturers and continues with a shared vision that is fully committed to excellence. To that end, we offer the following five strategies to assist systems integrators with the entire design process.

Strategy 1: Value the Role of Experience

Experience is a priceless asset when tackling the complexities of conveyor system designs while simultaneously sidestepping common pitfalls. A partner with a solid track record brings a wealth of knowledge and offers practical insights from past projects to drive a more efficient process. Moreover, an experienced partner provides tangible examples and case studies to illuminate their expertise and justify their recommendations, ensuring a more confident and seamless project execution.

Strategy 2: Select Your Conveyor Partner Wisely

Choosing the right conveyor design partner is pivotal to the success of your project. While price and return on investment  are always an important element, your consideration should encompass their competence, expertise, and shared vision as well. The right partner will have a broad portfolio of solutions, fully understand your unique needs, possess the capacity to offer tailored solutions, and demonstrate the ability to innovate when necessary.

Strategy 3: Cultivate an Early Collaboration

To guarantee the success of your conveyor project, begin a strong working relationship with your conveyor partner as early as possible to begin a comprehensive exploration of design needs and expectations. Your design partner is not merely a service provider but an integral part of your project team who offers specialized knowledge, helps to pre-empt potential issues, and generates optimal solutions from the very beginning of your planning phase. Such an early approach allows your partner to understand your needs, anticipate any potential issues, and brainstorm so that you can implement the most effective solutions together.

Strategy 4: Acknowledge the Intricacies

The design and implementation of conveyor systems go beyond plug-and-play simplicity but require careful engineering to address each element within the overall process. Each product’s unique features, dimensions, and weight requirements must be examined in conjunction with the surrounding environmental factors of temperature, humidity, and spatial constraints. By acknowledging the complexities early on, your design team can avoid numerous potential design pitfalls and operational issues throughout the entire process.

Strategy 5: Prioritize Guarding and Accessories

While the features of a primary conveyor system tend to dominate the spotlight, the other elements of guarding and accessories bring in essential considerations for safety, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness. Guarding prevents accidents and protects both operators and products while accessories like sensors, diverters, and stops contribute to the system’s overall functionality. By treating each component as a fundamental element of your entire system from the beginning of your design phase, your outcome will result in a well-rounded system that meets both operational requirements and safety standards.


Looking Forward: Navigating the Future of Conveyor System Design

As systems integrators, it is critical to first acknowledge the challenges to each step in the design process and then harness key strategies to address each new trial. In an ever-advancing manufacturing landscape, putting this overall approach into practice will not only empower you to meet future demands but also position your business at the forefront of the industry to seize even greater opportunities that the future of conveyor system design presents.

To recap, designing the right conveyor system necessitates not only an understanding of the mechanics but a comprehensive approach that takes into account each product, environment, and unique project challenge.

Further, success begins with acknowledging the need for the right conveyor design partner and partnering with them early on to leverage their specialist knowledge, avoid potential pitfalls, and devise optimal solutions. As you work together to address the intricate nature of conveyor systems, from the basic model to each component that increases safety, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness, your partner’s experience and expertise will facilitate a smooth and effective project execution.

As you chart your course forward, Power Pack Conveyor Company stands ready to support you. Our experienced engineers are here to assist and ready to share their wealth of knowledge to ensure optimal system design and efficiency for your entire industry. Reach out to us today so that we can shape the future of conveyor system design together.

About the Author

Dan Farrar is the CEO of Power Pack Conveyor Company, a pioneering industrial conveyor manufacturer since 1929. Power Pack Conveyor Company specializes in designing, engineering, and manufacturing conveyors, conveyor components, and turn-key systems for OEMs, System Integrators, and Distributors.

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