Maximize your conveyor design, operation

Keep safety and reliability at the top of the list when putting a new system in place.


A worker writes down identification information from a conveyor. This is helpful when establishing a preventive maintenance program and bench stock for your conveyor systems.Quick—name the manufacturers of the conveyors in your plant. How about the specific series, or types of styles—can you name those as well? Most people can’t.

Often, conveyors are an afterthought to finishing a project. After all, they just move things from Point A to Point B, right? That depends on what engineering has in mind for them. While some conveyors simply move product from one point to the next, other conveyors are outfitted to handle much more complex processing. 

Getting the most from your conveyor system is one way to help improve your company’s bottom line. A few things to consider in maximizing conveyor output are selecting the proper conveyors for the application and making sure they are properly maintained to avoid downtime. 

Selecting your conveyors

Although your new piece of equipment or machinery may still only exist on the drawing board, you should consider early on in the designing phase the performance specifications of all supporting conveyors, as well as any features and benefits the conveyor system ought to have. 

After you have a fairly good idea of what kind of performance you’ll need from your conveyors, the next step is to decide whether or not to build the conveyors in-house or purchase them from a supplier. 

Many plant operators, integrators, and OEMs choose to build their own conveyors. Although traveling this route may seem to be a money-saving idea, the cons outweigh the pros of building conveyors in-house. Here’s why.

It takes time to build conveyors from scratch. When all the resources are added up—time to design, locate, and purchase needed parts, and finally spending the man-hours to build the conveyor system—the savings isn’t much of a savings at all. And once the system is completed, just how reliable is it? Remember, all components of the equipment or machinery that bears your company’s name are a direct reflection on your company. If something rather small like the supporting conveyor system continually fails, what kind of impression is that piece of equipment or machinery with your company’s name on it going to leave?   

How about replacement parts? If the bearings on the conveyor you built are shot, how quickly will you be able to obtain replacement parts and make the repair? Conveyors made in-house most likely will have parts purchased from various suppliers. If those suppliers discontinue making the parts you need as replacements, or even go out of business, you could be left scrambling to get the conveyors back in action. 

Another area to consider when building conveyors in-house is the employee who builds them. What happens if that person quits or retires? Will someone else be able to step in with the required knowledge to properly service the conveyors if maintenance is required? There are a lot of unknown factors that can creep up when building conveyors in-house.

Supplier benefits

Conveyor systems built professionally by a reputable supplier, on the other hand, come with benefits unseen with in-house built conveyors. For starters, conveyor manufacturers typically do only one thing—build conveyors. So features such as quality and dependability are more likely to shine through than for in-house built conveyors. 

A second benefit is speed. How long will it take an employee at your company to design and build a conveyor system, in addition to doing other assigned tasks? Lead times for professionally built conveyors with some companies have steadily decreased to only a few days. Why spend the time and resources to task your employee to design and build the conveyors when you can have them built specifically for your application, and have them up and running in a week? Your employee’s time can be better spent doing something else. 

A third benefit is the assurance that you'll get a properly built conveyor for your exact application. Many conveyor manufacturers design and build a conveyor system to fit precisely into your application. For example, if you need a conveyor that's 11 ft by 3 1/2 in. by 15 in., no problem. Conveyors built to precise specifications will not only work better in your machinery, they'll probably also look better, too. Again, the supporting conveyor system is a reflection on your equipment or machinery. If it looks sloppy or poorly built, your company’s name can suffer.  &

<< First < Previous 1 2 Next > Last >>

No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
Safer human-robot collaboration; 2017 Maintenance Survey; Digital Training; Converting your lighting system
IIoT grows up; Six ways to lower IIoT costs; Six mobile safety strategies; 2017 Salary Survey
2016 Top Plant; 2016 Best Practices on manufacturing progress, efficiency, safety
Mobility as the means to offshore innovation; Preventing another Deepwater Horizon; ROVs as subsea robots; SCADA and the radio spectrum
Future of oil and gas projects; Reservoir models; The importance of SCADA to oil and gas
Big Data and bigger solutions; Tablet technologies; SCADA developments
Automation modernization; Predictive analytics enable open connectivity; System integration success; Automation turns home brewer into brew house
Commissioning electrical systems; Designing emergency and standby generator systems; Paralleling switchgear generator systems
Natural gas for tomorrow's fleets; Colleges and universities moving to CHP; Power and steam and frozen foods

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
This digital report will explore several aspects of how IIoT will transform manufacturing in the coming years.
Motion control advances and solutions can help with machine control, automated control on assembly lines, integration of robotics and automation, and machine safety.
Compressed air plays a vital role in most manufacturing plants, and availability of compressed air is crucial to a wide variety of operations.
Maintenance Manager; California Oils Corp.
Associate, Electrical Engineering; Wood Harbinger
Control Systems Engineer; Robert Bosch Corp.
click me