Conveyors are complicated machines that should never be taken for granted. They can affect productivity, especially when integrated into large parcel handling systems. In order to get a return on investment fast, save money and keep productivity high, you need to consider the following:
1. Know your load
When choosing a conveyor belt system, it is very important that you consider the kind of load you will be transporting. This is why you should come up with a list of intended load and note their width, height, length, width and weight. These factors could end up affecting the conveyor’s performance.
Consider load orientation. If an operator does not place an item on the conveyor properly, the load width may end up becoming its height. You need to check the load’s bottom configuration known as its footprint. This is because of the fact that this part can affect the design and cost of the conveyor.
Loads can act erratically on roller conveyors and cause the system to jam. Look for feet or runners on boxes and pallets, soggy or bulging bottoms on cardboard cartons, and protruding nails on wooden cases.
2. Select the right incline conveyors
Incline conveyors are used for moving goods between two different elevations. They are useful for sites that incorporate mezzanine floors or loading bays. You need to be very careful when choosing incline conveyors as they can affect your system’s performance.
Some of the factors you need to consider include load characteristics, throughput requirements, proximity to employees, in-feed or discharge points, safety devices and interface with horizontal conveyors. Be careful of incline conveyors that exceed a 30-degree angle as parcels may either slip or tumble.
Conveyors usually have millions of moving parts and new systems require extensive testing. Visually inspect conveyors to check if safety guards and stickers are in place. Check if the emergency stops are easily accessible.
Thoroughly test controls and see what happens in case operators were to make errors such as pushing two buttons at once. Since downtime can be a costly affair, ensure that you check how long it takes for the system to recover. Test conveyors with a small number of items placed at in-feed points.
Check rollers, belts, diverters, and merges work in a proper manner and look for parcels hanging up on bends. Load the system to capacity and evaluate its performance. Check carton spacing on conveyors and overload areas to find out where bottlenecks could possibly occur.
4. Regular maintenance
Scheduled servicing ensure that conveyors function as they should and minimize the risks of breakdowns. Replace components at regular intervals or as they start showing signs of wear. This is what is known as predicted maintenance. Regular housekeeping (preventative maintenance) is essential to maintaining conveyors.
Service routines are machine specific and tailored to operational demands but consider testing and emergency stop controls, lubricating components, cleaning the conveyor and checking belt (if fitted) tracking and condition. Look for rollers (if fitted) that do not rotate or rotate irregularly and check electrical components.
5. Know fixes to common problems
Due to the fact that problems may look worse than they really are, it is important that you assess the situation before calling an expensive service engineer.
If you find that items have accumulated in one area of the conveyor, just clean or adjust photo eye sensors if they are fitted. If the conveyor shuts all of a sudden for no apparent reason, just reset the emergency stop buttons. If the drive on a belt conveyor runs but the belt does not run, check for overloading.
Compared to other warehouse or industrial equipment conveyors move slower and do not appear threatening. However, they are powerful machines that can be very dangerous. This is why it is very important to clearly mark the start and stop controls and train workers in all aspects of safety. Keep the surrounding area clean and free of obstructions.
Accidents can injure employees and cost companies thousands of pounds in terms of lawsuits and lost productivity. Ensuring safety around conveyors contributes to a fast return on investment.
7. Reduce energy consumption
The more the costs of running a conveyor, then the slower the return on investment. It is very important to conserve energy and keep utility bills down by turning conveyors off when not in use. There are timer controls that can help automate the process. Use gravity roller conveyors where feasible to reduce energy consumption.
8. Design conveyor workstations should be ergonomically designed
Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are strain injuries which affect the neck, back or legs. MSDs are usually caused by prolonged periods of standing, improper manual handling or repetitive movement. They can have long-term health implication for workers and can cost a business a lot.
Even though conveyors help reduce repetitive lifting and carrying, they can lead to MSDs if they are not designed for the task and users in mind. You have to carefully consider the physical aspects of conveyor workstations. Employees should not assume awkward postures such as twisting or stooping at any given time.