What is the OutRunner Spiral?


For employees working in a manufacturing plant or other factories, safety and efficient automation are strongly prioritized. From food and beverage production to e-commerce, items need to move rapidly and undergo rigorous quality control to ensure orders are successfully fulfilled. Fortunately, conveyor systems can cut down on manual tasks and streamline the productivity of assembly lines worldwide. That’s why we build innovative and responsive standard and specialty conveyor systems, including our patented OutRunner Spiral.

Span Tech’s OutRunner Spiral conveyor uses a unique drive system which has many advantages for spiral designs. This changing elevation conveyor system drives each tier of the spiral conveyor, which distributes the overall loading throughout many points and reduces the amount of “pull” needed at any single location. Additionally, OutRunner Spiral conveyors are somewhat similar to drum-style spirals which are very common in the industry. However, a huge flaw with drum spiral designs is the need to have a pulling element after the spiral’s last tier. If the drum ever stops and the pulling element is allowed to continue to run, the entire conveyor chain will “fold up” against the drum. This is quite a dramatic event and certainly unwanted in any situation.


Why Should Companies Use an OutRunner Spiral Conveyor?

If you’d like to update the conveyor system in your facility, there are three main reasons to include an OutRunner Spiral in your production flow:

  • 1. The OutRunner Spiral conveyor changes the elevation of the products.
  • 2. The system introduces product dwell time (for proofing, curing, cooling, drying, etc.).
  • 3. The OutRunner Spiral promotes product offloading (accumulation).

Changing elevation of a product is probably the top reason customers purchase the OutRunner Spiral and other spiral conveyors. These systems give you the ability to go from one elevation to another with a relatively small footprint and without the need for special automation. Spirals are unique for this as they are literally just conveyors formed into helical shapes. If your product can be transported at an incline on a standard conveyor, it can also be inclined with the OutRunner Spiral conveyor.

Some products require time to rest for various reasons — bread dough needs time to rise (proof), some glues or chemical reactions need time to cure and other products need time to cool off or dry after being baked, washed or cooked. Like the OutRunner Spiral system, a spiral elevator allows for a very large amount of product to be temporarily held while still being on the production line.

Because the OutRunner Spiral conveyor and other spiral systems can hold a large amount of product, they are sometimes used for product accumulation. However, most spirals are not good solutions for that because once a product enters a spiral, it must travel all the way to the exit before it can re-enter the production line. Almost all spirals are “FIFO” (First In, First Out) and are not designed to run in their opposite direction. There are specialty spiral applications designed for this sort of thing, but they are very large and extremely costly.

What are the Advantages of the OutRunner Spiral?

Compared to other changing elevation solutions at Span Tech, there are many advantages of the OutRunner Spiral worth exploring. However, the top two benefits are in the system’s overall flexibility and robustness.

OutRunner Spiral Flexibility

The OutRunner Spiral can be designed with an infinite amount of possibilities to meet the specific needs of your company’s assembly system:

  • Many chain widths available
  • A large range of minimum/maximum conveyor elevations
  • A large variety of chain styles (high friction, cleated chain, etc.)
  • Exit orientation options (4 exit orientation options for a 4-tier spiral, 6 for a 6-tier)
  • Custom conveyor centerline radius
  • Custom number of tiers
  • Clockwise/counterclockwise direction
  • Material of construction (powder coated or stainless steel)
  • Up/down flow
  • Extended infeed/outfeed conveyor lengths

OutRunner Spiral Robustness

Like all Span Tech products, our OutRunner Spiral is designed to last. To help prevent any over-torque situation, we ship every spiral with a torque-limiter designed into the drive train. If the torque ever exceeds a certain amount (something becomes jammed), the torque limiter will “trip” allowing the system to safely stop.

Optimize Your Facility With the OutRunner Spiral Conveyor

Since its introduction in 2006, the OutRunner Spiral conveyor continues to revolutionize the workflow of warehouses and facilities across the U.S. If your productivity could use an enhancement, don’t wait any longer. Start a free estimate today, and one of our pros will get back to you within one business day. And, if you have any questions about the OutRunner Spiral, contact us at any time, and we’ll be more than happy to help.

A Quality Warehouse Starts with People


A quality warehouse — every manufacturer craves it. That’s the ability to ship products to end-users on time and with the correct, undamaged materials inside. Every distribution center favors it, too. It’s what a good company does. Suppose it were only that simple. Often, warehouse quality control is deficient or even nonexistent. There are no quality control methods in place and no employees — or the wrong employees inspecting the overall process. Is it the fault of management? The employees? The QA leader or team? The answer is often complex but easily solved by a culture shift like the one undertaken at Span Tech.

It’s about people. The answer to having a quality warehouse is to start with good people taking ownership of their work. Empower them to have the freedom to pull something back or inspect a product again to be sure it’s right before going forward to the next person. Then they take responsibility. And this keeps going until a quality control process drives the great product you make right into the end user’s hands with no mistakes. This article examines the crucial piece in the quality control puzzle and develops a warehouse quality control plan where everyone’s involved.


Why Is Quality Control Important?

Remember, the key is people. We can put perfect processes in place, but the people either make it or break it. Warehouse quality control does have steps to help guide you through the processes, but empowering the people at each stage is the key to optimal performance.

You can’t assume that the departments handling the product before you followed the same quality control procedures. Still, the buck will stop with you — the first person in the chain of command who follows QA procedures and takes responsibility for what you can control. Without empowering every employee in the chain to take charge of their jobs, you’ve already located your weak link(s).

Here’s a quality control process that can work as a checklist for a production warehouse inspection:

  • Safety Check: This should be your first and last item in warehouse quality control. Make sure the conveyor belts — or whichever part of the production chain you’re linked to — are operating correctly and that no safety hazard poses a threat to employees. Every warehouse quality control plan must include detailed safety procedures.
  • Inspect Materials When Received: Whether you’re in Receiving and inspecting the raw materials and products your company uses; in Shipping where a conveyor belt feeds boxes being sent out; or working on the production line itself, inspect, inspect, inspect.
  • Prior to Full-Production Inspections: Pull one finished product and inspect. If it passes muster, proceed with the run.
  • Inspection During Normal Production: At intervals, pull a partially finished product and inspect.
  • After Production Inspections: A predetermined quantity of product will be pulled and inspected.
  • QA Leader Inspection: The person with final authority will inspect the product before shipping. This quality control process is an ongoing and ever-evolving activity. You must evolve, too, to meet new, more significant inspection challenges.
  • Safety Check:One last item of great importance, especially if another shift will come online — the safety inspection! Ensure any hazards are removed and the all-clear is given.

While this list follows a production line, the shipping department’s efforts are also critical, as they are the last line of defense against error. And if you are a distribution center only, the conveyors full of boxes and packages act as your production line.

What Does Quality Control Mean?

While there are many correct answers to this question, the focus should always be on the people more than the process. Taking time to ask yourself, “What does quality control mean?” is a great exercise to revisit often. Of course, as a business, you need steps to follow and regular assessments of your product’s quality to remain successful. But quality control is more than a list of rigid rules. It should be more than just a list of quality control methods that work. Overall, quality control means:

  • Every employee understands their roles and job requirements and can fulfill them with competence.
  • Every employee is empowered to make decisions that can affect production or distribution to make sure the product — at their point in the production process — is correct.
  • Every employee takes responsibility that every product at their station is accurate, and if not, calls attention to it or fixes it themselves.
  • Everyone — including upper management — cares about 100% correct products leaving their company every time.

It’s this type of commitment that ensures a quality warehouse and a 100% correct product reaching the end-user.

How to Create a Quality Control Process

Now that you have your employees empowered to bring the kind of change you want, it’s time to create a quality control process. Span Tech has developed a safety-first working environment based around people. People are our heart and soul. They’re the reason our quality control is a seamless process, resulting in the highest quality products for our customers. Span Tech’s Quality Promise follows these seven principles:

  • 1. Personnel: Be sure to hire and retain top-quality employees, then put the right people in the right places. When well-placed employees are empowered, you’ll see them take ownership of their link in the production chain. And that’ll make all the difference in warehouse quality control.
  • 2. Relationships: Value the relationships you develop with your suppliers. Still, make sure they meet your rigorous standards regarding the products and raw materials you purchase. If there’s a problem, offer practical solutions to resolve it quickly.
  • 3. Technology: Span Tech is a leading innovator of conveyor solutions because of the people we count on every day using the first-class equipment and warehouse quality control procedures already in place. Be sure to give your employees state-of-the-art technology and equipment, so they can produce top-shelf products.
  • 4. Documentation: Take the time to record and ensure your quality control procedures are clearly defined for each stage of your production. Whether in-house job instructions or engineering and design projects, produce accurate, understandable, and consistent documentation across all departments. If even one employee can’t clearly understand the instructions they’re to follow, work with that person to determine if the documentation needs reworking. Always retain good people — documentation is easier to replace.
  • 5. Verification: Stay committed to making sure your products work as intended and are correct to the finest detail. Use appropriate measuring tools when testing to be confident each product is as it should be. If a product doesn’t meet high standards, your customers should never be the ones to tell you.
  • 6. Dedication: Quality control methods would be meaningless without committed and empowered employees. The power behind Span Tech is our people. Like us, you’ll need competent, empowered employees who do things the right way every time. Their dedication makes it possible for you to offer the highest quality products and services to your customers.
  • 7. Practice Prevention: Catching and solving problems before they leave your facility is critical to success. Taking appropriate actions to avoid defects starts with clearly understanding your customers’ requirements. What they expect should be your standard and the baseline of your production. Go above and beyond their requirements with unwavering quality and reap the benefits of success.

Safety is a Quality Control Process

A safe working environment is critical to any quality control process. As you put these inspection techniques in place, remember that safety must come first! We designed our conveyor systems with that in mind. Our EZGUIDE™ Conveyor Guide Rails replaces the brackets or rods that most conveyor belts have. These brackets and rods often stick out from the sides when the belt is in the “retracted” position. That poses a safety hazard in any warehouse or distribution center. With this type of safety hazard, warehouse quality control is already lost due to the dangers posed to employees by their conveyor belts.

EZGUIDE™ has no mechanical components protruding from the sides during adjustment. And EZGUIDE™ GUIDE RAILS remain adjustable through conveyor belt curves. If you believe people are your company’s heart and soul, any quality control process must start with ensuring their safety. That commitment has helped Span Tech become an industry leader as an innovative manufacturer of conveyor belts.

Span Tech and Warehouse Quality Control

Developing a warehouse quality control program is much easier when recognizing your employees are your number one asset. Instead of identifying “things” to change or rearrange, identify people. Placing the right person in the right job will help prevent defects before your checklist even begins. Put the best people in the safest environment and give them clearly defined roles and responsibilities while empowering them to make decisions. Quality control procedures will flow organically as you make a step-by-step map of your entire production or distribution procedures. Finally, hiring or identifying the right employee for the job of making the final inspection is highly important. They’re the last person to see the product before it ships out to the end-user.

Choose Span Tech for Warehouse Quality Control Solutions

Span Tech believes in people. Our people make the highest-quality conveyor belts on the market. That’s because each one knows they’re essential to the entire quality control process exactly where they are. And so on down the line. If you’re still using a bracket and rod conveyor belt system, consider the safe, reliable and innovative EZGUIDE™ Adjustable Guide Rail. It may be the best first step on your way toward warehouse quality control. Contact us, and we’ll provide the best solutions for you today!