Conveyors are an integral part of warehouse operations. They contribute in important ways to productivity and efficiency, as well as quality control and personnel safety. The type of conveyor used in a specific application depends on many factors, including the size and weight of the product to be moved, whether the conveying is done on one level or from one level to another and many other considerations. |
Conveyors, like other material handling equipment , have to be matched to their function. But cost remains a concern, as well. Certainly, one conveyor can't replace another just because it's less expensive. Still, there are ways to keep costs under control.
One way to control costs is to look for used conveyors that can meet specifications. Look for used equipment from large companies that are moving, downsizing or updating their warehouse operations. Reconditioned equipment can be an excellent investment.
Conveyors fall into four basic classes: gravity, power, flexible and lifts/carousels. With gravity conveyors, products are moved by gravity or pushed. A motor does the moving with a power conveyor. Flexible conveyors are just that: They can be either gravity- or motor-driven, depending on the application. Lifts and carousels move products vertically or horizontally for order picking. Conveyors that fit into two of these categories - gravity and power - are described here.
Representative of gravity conveyors are the gravity skatewheel conveyor and the gravity roller conveyor. The skatewheel conveyor is a series of small steel wheels and can handle items that are wider than it is. The roller conveyor is for heavy, uneven and open packaged products and usually features spring-loaded axles.
Power conveyors include the live roller, incline, accumulating, chain-driven, sortation and pallet. Live roller conveyors are powered by belts or o-rings and come in a variety of section shapes. Incline conveyors can move products form one level to the next. Accumulating conveyors gather and hold material in place to wait for action down the line.
Chain-driven conveyors can carry the heaviest palletized loads and drums. Sortation conveyors allow merging, separate and divert products in multiple directions. Pallet conveyors transport, stop, accumulate or stage palletized loads and are ideal for conveying heavy items.
Deciding which kind of conveyor system will best meet a specific need can be a challenge, and the first choice might not be the best. It can be a good idea to take advantage of the design capabilities of some warehouse equipment dealers. A well-designed material handling system can result in lower costs because more efficient conveyors can be used or because a less expensive conveyor will do the job just as well.
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