Common Conveyor Belt Problems & How To Fix Them

Common Conveyor Belt Problems

With many conveyor systems running 24/7 in critical operations, common conveyor belt problems can cause serious trouble, leading to damaged equipment, unnecessary downtime and employee injuries.

Conveyor belt systems play a crucial role in today’s manufacturing and warehousing facilities, and it’s important to know how to keep them working properly, without the entire system breaking down.

With years of expertise across numerous industries, Span Tech has a comprehensive knowledge of conveyors. In this article, we’ll look at common conveyor problems and how to troubleshoot and prevent them.

6 Common Conveyor Belt Problems

The global conveyor market is expected to reach $10.6 billion by 2025. It’s a big business and one that touches a wide range of operations. Despite the market’s size, even small conveyor belt problems can have a domino effect, creating issues throughout a company’s system. The most common conveyor belt problems include:

  1. Conveyor belt tracking problems
  2. Belt slippage
  3. Blockages
  4. Carryback
  5. Material spillage
  6. Seized rollers

Here’s a closer look at each of these common conveyor belt issues.

Span Tech Conveyor Belt System

1. Conveyor Belt Tracking Problems

Conveyor belt tracking issues, often referred to as conveyor belt mistracking, are some of the most common conveyor problems. Belt mistracking occurs when the belt is no longer aligned with the proper path and pulls to one side or the other.

Possible causes of conveyor belt mistracking include belt damage, a crooked splice or off-center loading. There are also other areas of concern, such as:

  • A crooked or angled conveyor frame
  • Snub rollers that are out of alignment or not tensioned properly
  • Dirt or residue on the belt or pulleys, which can force the belt off track

If left undetected, mistracking can cause further belt damage and the shut down of the entire system.

To perform conveyor belt alignment troubleshooting, you should regularly inspect these areas and check for tell-tale signs of mistracking, like frayed edges on the belt. Keep the belt clean, repair damage as it arises and make sure loads are properly centered to avoid major issues and a long shut-down period.

2. Belt Slippage

Conveyor belt slippage is another of the most common conveyor belt problems. Conveyor belts require an exact balance of tension to operate correctly. Having too little or too much tension can cause belt slippage. Besides slippage, improper tension and insufficient traction also can create a strain or stretch on the belts, along with loud squealing and grating noises.

If the belt slips entirely off the pulleys, the result can be serious damage, like a motor failure.

While a range of issues can force a belt to slip, here are the most common causes:

  • Cold temperatures, which lower the grip between the pulleys and the belt
  • Overweight loads, which strain the belt, causing it to slip
  • Pulley issues, which can include a worn head pulley or pulleys that are too smooth

Lagging is often installed on pulleys to create the proper tension, but pulley lagging itself can cause belt slippage if the lagging is improperly implemented.

If you’re wondering how to make a belt stop slipping, the best defense is a good offense. Ensure your belt’s weight range matches the weight of the products you’re moving, and regularly inspect the belt and pulleys for the common causes of belt slippage. Repair these as soon as you find them.

3. Blockages

A conveyor belt line is supposed to transport products smoothly from one location to another. But sharp edges, corners and surfaces can snag an object, causing a pile-up as items begin to gather.

An unexpected accumulation of products can damage items and force the entire system to shut down.

To prevent blockages, regularly inspect your conveyor line for anything that could interfere with product movement and correct it promptly.

4. Carryback

Material carryback is a common conveyor belt problem for material handling systems that carry loose material. Carryback occurs when extra material sticks to the transporting belt, pulleys, idlers and rollers. Humidity and condensation can exacerbate the issue. Material caught like this requires extra cleanup and can lead to overly worn components.

One way to prevent carryback is to install belt cleaners or brushes that dislodge stuck material before it becomes an issue.

5. Material Spillage

It’s not uncommon for material to slide off a conveyor belt, particularly at points where loading and transferring occur. The lost material increases equipment wear and lowers productivity. It also presents a significant safety hazard since loose material can cause employees to slip or fall.

Some spillage is inevitable, but you can prevent excess material spillage by installing impact beds or skirt clamps. Since a poorly aligned conveyor system can increase the likelihood of spillage, it’s helpful to regularly check for and correct alignment issues.

6. Seized Rollers

Another common conveyor belt problem is seized rollers, which lead to sharp edges on the rollers that can:

  • Cause the belt to mistrack
  • Create a safety hazard
  • Damage the objects being transported
  • Close down the entire system

Regular inspections can help you identify rollers that are likely to seize, allowing you to replace them before issues arise.

How to Combat Common Conveyor Belt Problems

Common conveyor belt problems cause many issues, ranging from lost production to damaged products to employee injuries and shut-down operations. They often require time-consuming maintenance and repair operations to resolve the problems.

The most comprehensive approach to reducing common conveyor problems is to institute a regular preventive maintenance program. Preventive maintenance is a cost-effective way to catch conveyor problems when they’re easier to address and before they become major issues.

Of course, it’s always important to follow all the best safety advice when working on conveyors, including proper lock-out/tag-out procedures, which ensure that the power is turned off on the equipment you’re repairing.

An Innovative Solution to Common Conveyor Problems With Span Tech

Unlike traditional conveyors, Span Tech builds its systems and Specialty Conveyors with an innovative modular plastic conveyor chain that eliminates the possibility of mistracked belts and other common conveyor problems.

Our modular solution is built with individual interconnecting rows of chain, which can be configured in a wide variety of widths and lengths. Thanks to its collapsibility, our modular chain can create curving, twisting, inclining and declining conveyors.

Trust Span Tech With Your Conveying Needs

We have years of expertise in creating solutions for the most challenging applications to help you avoid common conveyor belt problems. The wide range of custom designs we offer, along with our extensive line of add-ons, means you get the conveyor that’s best suited for your needs. Contact us today to see what Span Tech can do for you.

Guide to Conveyor Belt Tracking

Conveyor Belt Tracking

If your business relies on conveyor belts, you want them to be up and running when you need them. One of the most important factors to keeping a conveyor belt running properly is conveyor belt tracking.

Mis-tracking conveyor belts means downtime for your conveyor systems, and no matter what industry you are in, downtime means lost money. This article will look at what tracking is, how to track a conveyor belt and how to fix issues that can impact the proper tracking of a belt.

What Is Conveyor Belt Tracking?

Conveyor belt tracking is the process of aligning and controlling a conveyor belt so that it follows the desired path. Tracking is a process of adjusting idlers, pulleys and loading conditions to adjust and fix any tendency of the belt to run any way other than intended.

How to Track a Conveyor Belt

Conveyor belt tracking is important but it doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are three easy steps for tracking a conveyor belt.

  1. While the conveyor is operating, loosen the bolts closest to the tail pulley. That will loosen the primary method of steering the conveyor belt, the snub roller.
  2. Using a rubber mallet, gently tap the bolts in whatever direction you want the conveyor belt to move. This will cause the snub roller to move. After the snub roller has been adjusted, be sure to re-tighten the bolts so it will be locked into the new position.
  3. Steps 1 and 2 should be repeated until the center of your conveyor belt is within a quarter inch of the tail pulley’s center. Be careful not to make any large adjustments. A small adjustment can make a huge change. Make sure to start with the snub rollers closest to the ends of the conveyor and work your way towards the center.
Conveyor Tracking

How to Fix Conveyor Belt Tracking

When tracking conveyor belts, there are steps you can take to maintain your conveyor belts as well as steps you should take when there are issues with conveyor tracking. The following tips are things to watch for if you are having trouble with conveyor belt alignment.

Make Sure The Conveyor Frame Is Level and Square

A large percentage of conveyor belt tracking issues are caused by the track being out of level or square. If your conveyor is out of level or square, the belt will move to one side or the other.

Using a standard level, you can quickly check your conveyor system’s levelness. It’s important to check both the pulleys and the frames for levelness. To check that your conveyor bed is square, snap dimensions from one corner to the opposite corner on each side of the conveyor belt. The measurements should be equal. If they are not, squaring rods on the bottom of the conveyor can be used to pull the frame into alignment.

Confirm the End Pulleys Are Square

Sometimes conveyor belt installers will steer the end pulley to track the conveyor belt. Unfortunately, this can make the problem worse. Instead, use the snub rollers or idlers to track the belt, as intended.

Check for Any Debris in Your System

It’s important to inspect conveyor belts for not just mechanical issues, but also cleanliness. If tape or other debris builds up on one or both of the end pulleys, it can lead to a crown or a raised portion on the pulley. This will result in problems with conveyor belt tracking.

Ensure Your Conveyor Belt Has Been Cut Straight

Problems with your conveyor tracking may be a result of manufacturing defects. During the manufacturing process, the belts can be cut improperly leaving a curvature or arc. If you have reason to think this may be the problem, remove the belt and lay it out flat to see if it looks straight.

Let Span Tech Guide Your Conveyor Belt System

Now that you’ve read our guide to conveyor belt tracking, take a look at our products and see how Span Tech can help you. If you use conveyor belts to make your business go, our new line of EZSpan conveyors can help. With their modular chain design, conveyor belt tracking is no longer an issue. Contact us today to find out more about how we can help.

Why Molded Plastic Conveyor Belt Parts Are Better Than Metal

Plastic Conveyor Parts Vs. Metal Conveyor Parts

There’s no doubt that plastic has been a game-changer for countless industries since its invention in the 19th century. Case in point: adopting molded plastic conveyor belt parts has provided numerous benefits compared to their metal counterparts.

Many advancements in technology have resulted in metal conveyor belt parts being replaced by plastic – and for good reason. Read on to learn why plastic conveyor parts have become the better choice, which specific conveyor belt parts have converted to plastic, and why Span Tech is the place to go for all things related to conveyor belt systems.

Metal vs. Molded Plastic Conveyor Parts

Advancements in the development and production of plastic conveyor parts have resulted in a superior product that dramatically improves conveyor belt performance. In many cases, molded plastic conveyor belt parts are better than metal ones:

  • Lower Cost & Better Availability
  • Improved Material Characteristics
  • Improved Consistency
  • Superior Design

Lower Costs

When you can use more affordable products in your equipment, it’s a win-win for all concerned. Because molded plastic conveyor parts are more affordable to produce, everyone gets to keep a little something extra in their pocket, from the manufacturer to the consumer.

Better Availability

Because they’re less costly and easier to produce, it’s feasible to keep larger minimum quantities on hand and easier to get molded plastic conveyor belt parts when you need them.

Designed for Heavy Duty

Because there are very few limitations to designing injection molded parts, modern engineering methods allow them to be designed to optimize strength and thus are surprisingly durable. Molded plastic conveyor parts are designed to handle the most rigorous loading for the application.

More Consistency

Welded metal parts often have issues with warping, which is oftentimes unpredictable and can be hard to control. Molded plastic conveyor belt parts are more uniform than their metal counterparts.

Less QC is Required

Manufactured parts often have to go through several steps during the manufacturing process (such as sawing, milling, turning, welding, coating, etc.). When replacing parts that are coated (like an LPI chain guide), there’s less chance of losing parts due to additional steps in manufacturing, so less quality checking is required.

Improved Material Characteristics

Plastics come in a wide range of material properties. Parts can be made rigid or flexible, high-friction or low-friction. Depending on the design requirements, there’s a plastic material that’s best suited for the application.

Better Design

Molded plastic parts can be engineered with features that are much more ergonomic and safe compared to traditionally manufactured metal parts.

Types of Molded Plastic Parts on a Conveyor Belt

There are dozens of custom-molded plastic wear parts for conveyors replacing metal parts like the hinged steel belt and the sprockets. Today’s conveyor equipment contains plastic parts such as:

  • Pulleys
  • Plastic Modular Belts
  • Rollers
  • Bearings/Bushings
  • Gears/Sprockets
  • Chain Guides & Rails
  • Curves/Tracks
  • Wear Strips
  • Star Wheels
  • Augers
  • Bumpers
  • Hoppers
  • Liners
  • Bins

Frequently Asked Questions About Custom-Molded Plastic Conveyor Belt Parts

Because they are such a departure from traditional metal and rubber components, people frequently have questions about custom-molded plastic conveyor belt parts.

What Are the Parts of a Conveyor System?

A conveyor system has three main components:

  • Belt Guides: This keeps the belt taut and moving smoothly and efficiently.
  • Pulleys/Sprockets: Conveyor systems have at least two pulleys – one that operates when the unit is powered up, the other when it’s idling. Pulleys control the conveyor belt’s movement.
  • Drive Unit: This enables the system to move efficiently, forward and backward.

What Is a Modular Conveyor System?

A modular belt conveyor contains plastic modules that link together with rods. Sprockets drive the modular belt. Unlike most fabric/plastic belts, modular belts can be made to be pulled through curves and vertical bends. Also, fabric/plastic belts require a tensioning system – modular plastic belts do not. And because they’re more rugged, plastic modular belts are especially useful for moving hot workpieces or items with sharp edges. Chain modules are permeable to air, making modular conveyor equipment the best choice for cooling lines. And due to its simpler design, a modular conveyor system has the added benefit of easy maintenance.

What Is a Plastic Modular Belt?

Modular plastic belting is an alternative to traditional fabric conveyor belt systems. It’s positive-driven, has low tension and eliminates slippage on drives. A plastic modular belt is also durable and simple to maintain, making it ideal for applications in nearly every major industry.

Shop Span Tech Systems for the Best Molded Plastic Conveyor Belt Parts

Span Tech is an industry leader renowned for our durable plastic chain conveyor parts and systems combined with innovations in material handling. Our chains and guides use engineered materials for the best combination of low friction and durability. High-strength plastics are used for items that undergo heavy loading, such as sprockets, chain links, etc. All plastic materials have been selected to be FDA-compliant and are capable of withstanding harsh chemical environments.

We serve a wide range of industries, from food and beverage production to manufacturing, distribution, packaging, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics. We’re committed to building the best conveyor system to meet the needs of our clients. Discover why our molded plastic conveyor belt parts and systems are the right ones for your business. Contact us today so we can get you up and running!

5 Manufacturing Industry Trends for 2022

Manufacturing Industry Trends

As we’ve embarked on this new year, there are many exciting challenges and advancements to look forward to — including the manufacturing industry trends for 2022. It’s essential to understand how upcoming industrial manufacturing trends can affect your business. Your company can stay ahead of your competition by paying attention to these emerging movements. Let’s look at five manufacturing trends for 2022 and how Span Tech’s innovative manufacturing conveyors can help your operation thrive.

With the surge of the COVID-19 omicron variant and the Great Resignation, manufacturing took some unexpected turns in 2021. But many of the manufacturing trends from 2021 will continue to inform manufacturing practices for the coming year, with new issues coming to bear. What trends in manufacturing can we expect for 2022?

1. Manufacturers Will Continue to Deal With Labor Shortages

The labor shortage is nothing new — the National Association of Manufacturers forecast in 2019 that there will be a gap of 2.1 million manufacturing jobs by 2030. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a loss of 219,000 manufacturing jobs just between February 2020 and December 2021. Compounding this shortage is the loss of skills and knowledge that will occur as existing workers retire. Manufacturers can get ahead of this trend by:

  • Improving the public perception of manufacturing jobs
  • Recruiting from the industries hit hardest by the pandemic
  • Reskilling existing employees
  • Boosting efforts to retain workers
  • Investing in increased automation

Our custom conveying solutions can help manufacturers cope with labor shortages by increasing system uptime and line output.

2. Smart Factory Initiatives Will Take the Lead

An increased move toward smart factories is one of the industrial manufacturing trends we foresee for 2022. The growth of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) will allow manufacturers to take advantage of advancements like artificial intelligence and predictive analytics. Organizations that implement interconnectivity will see unprecedented growth in resilience and efficiency. With the implementation of fifth-generation technology (5G), improvements in visibility, scale and speed will follow. Digital-first manufacturing trends will only increase in the coming year.

Smart Factory Initiatives

3. Manufacturers Will Renew Efforts to Tame Their Supply Chains

Another manufacturing industry trend for 2022 will focus on corporate efforts to control supply chains. The continuing effects of COVID-19, trade wars, high demand and slow delivery times are testing manufacturers’ abilities to develop resilient supply chains. Many will look to reshore operations to better manage supply chain availability, while others will pursue opportunities in countries like Canada and Mexico. Their efforts will be complicated by continuing transportation troubles, including a shortage of freight drivers and congestion at U.S. container ports.

4. Environmental Accountability Will Gain the Forefront

No matter what your beliefs are about climate change, a further emphasis on environmental accountability will be among 2022’s trends in the manufacturing industry. Globally, governments are promising huge strides toward sustainability, and many customers are incorporating environmental responsibility into their expectations for manufacturing suppliers. As a result, developing a carbon-neutral footprint will emerge as a priority for many manufacturers, regardless of size. The growing interest in environmental accountability goes hand-in-hand with increased demands for visibility into social metrics like diversity, inclusion and equity. The manufacturing trends focused on environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors will affect a company’s ability to attract and retain employees and customers.

5. Cybersecurity Will Emerge as A Major Threat

No discussion of current manufacturing trends would be complete without touching on cybersecurity. High-profile cyber attacks on industry and government alike have elevated cybersecurity as a significant concern for manufacturers. Operations of any size can find themselves subject to ransomware and other cybersecurity vulnerabilities. No company is immune from a potential attack. The increased reliance on 5G-connected devices only expands manufacturers’ exposure to cyber threats. The risks are real and can affect the factory floor as well as the back office. Most legacy systems and technologies weren’t built to cope with cyber attacks. Improved security isn’t the only need. Companies also must address their corporate resilience in case of an attack. Are vital data and documentation regularly backed up to provide the redundancy necessary to withstand an assault? Cybersecurity affects every facet of a manufacturer’s operations.

FAQs About Manufacturing Industry Trends in 2022

There’s a wide range of trends facing manufacturers. Read the FAQs below to learn more about manufacturing industry trends for 2022.

What Is the Future of Manufacturing?

Worldwide, the outlook for manufacturing is strong. The global manufacturing market size is expected to increase from $649.8 billion in 2020 to $732.2 billion in 2027.

What Are the Latest Trends in Manufacturing?

Additional manufacturing trends include an acceleration of e-commerce, the expansion of mixed-model assembly and the growth of the connected workforce.

What Manufacturing Sectors Are Growing?

Sectors that expect to see growth include automobile engine and parts manufacturing and aircraft, engine and parts production.

Dealing With Manufacturing

Manufacturing industry trends for 2022 require vigilance, resilience and a proactive stance. While the challenges are formidable, the global manufacturing outlook for 2022 is strong. Meeting the manufacturing challenges of 2022 head-on can provide significant benefits in:

  • Employee retention
  • Customer acquisition
  • Productivity increases
  • Cost reductions

Manufacturers who address these manufacturing trends will reap the advantages for years to come. Developing partnerships with forward-thinking companies can play a critical role in their success.

Let Span Tech Help You Benefit From Current Manufacturing Trends

With an emphasis on innovation and testing, Span Tech truly understands the advantages of meeting today’s manufacturing trends. Our custom conveying solutions can help boost productivity, cut operational costs and position you for the future. Whether you need specialty conveyors or more information on manufacturing industry trends in 2022 and beyond, we’re here for you. Contact us today to learn how our conveyors can help you stay ahead of the competition and thrive.

Conveyor Belt Safety: The Eight Do’s and Don’ts of Operating Automated Conveyor Systems

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If your business utilizes automated conveyor systems in any way, conveyor belt safety should always be your No. 1 priority. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 40 workplace fatalities a year are the result of conveyor accidents, along with 9,000 injuries.

No matter what type of conveyor is being used in your business, there are some conveyor belt hazards to be aware of to help reduce conveyor-related injuries. While it is impossible to prevent all accidents in your warehouse or factory, there are some helpful conveyor safety rules to keep in mind. In this article, we will look at eight of the top do’s and don’t regarding operating automated conveyor systems.

1. Do Keep Hair, Body Parts & Clothing Clear of the Conveyor

Whether it’s long hair, body parts or loose clothing, anything that is not properly restrained can get caught in a conveyor belt, potentially causing serious injuries. One of the key conveyor safety rules you should implement is that anyone working near a conveyor should make sure their hair is tied back and jewelry, like rings, necklaces, watches and bracelets, should be removed. Also, employees working near conveyors should watch their appendages and avoid wearing baggy clothing.

2. Don’t Climb or Stand on the Conveyor at Any Time

Workers should never stand, sit, climb or walk on the conveyor belt. Safety is of the utmost importance, and these actions are extremely dangerous (even if they look fun). Conveyor belts were not designed for people to walk or climb on them. There are many pinch points in any conveyor system that can catch people or clothing, risking serious injuries — even when conveyor pinch point guards have been installed. Besides the risk of injury, people riding on conveyors can cause the belts to un-track, damaging the whole system.

3. Do Keep Personnel Away From the Conveyor Before Starting

Government regulations require conveyor systems to be equipped with a warning signal that can be sounded prior to start-up. That should be just the beginning for companies that are establishing conveyor safety rules out of concern for their workers. Employees should be trained on what the warning signal means and the possible dangers that can occur if it is ignored.

4. Don’t Take Off Conveyor Guards or Move Safety Divides

Employees or contractors can remove guards for maintenance, exposing machinery, chains, gears and moving parts that can be dangerous. To keep workers safe, make sure automated conveyor systems are locked when in service and only return to operating equipment after all conveyor pinch point guards and covers have been successfully reinstalled.

5. Do Know Where the Stop/Start Controls Are and How to Use Them

Any employees who work with conveyor belts should be aware of where to find the emergency stop and start controls for the system. That way, in the event of any emergencies or other problems, employees will be prepared to handle the situation appropriately.

6. Don’t Ignore Issues

Employees who work on automated conveyor systems should know that if there are any issues, they should notify a supervisor immediately. Employees should be trained that if you see something, say something. No matter how minor the issue may seem, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

7. Do Make Conveyor Belt Safety Training a Priority

If your business involves conveyors, all employees should be well-versed in the safe use of conveyor belts before they start working. In addition, existing employees should receive regular refresher training on conveyor safety rules, and all visitors should be made aware of how to stay safe while they are in your facility.

8. Don’t Mistreat Controls

Only trained employees should use conveyor controls. It’s important that you regularly monitor your conveyor controls to make sure no one has misused, modified or disconnected them. Train your employees to understand that the conveyor belt controls are not to be modified without authorization and they are part of a larger system.

Choose Span Tech For Your Automated Conveyor Systems

Now that you’ve learned some important tips about safe conveyor system usage, Span Tech can help you build your conveyor belt system or keep your current system running smoothly. Whether your business is pharmaceuticals, manufacturing, food production, beverage production or a variety of other industries, Span Tech works every day to create the best conveyor belts we can. If you have questions about Span Tech’s products or proper conveyor belt safety, contact our team of experts today for assistance.

How Does A Conveyor Belt Work? A Complete Guide to Conveyor Systems

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Conveyor systems play a critical part in many manufacturing and industrial processes. This high-level guide will go back to basics, answering questions like, “What is a conveyor belt system?” “What are the benefits of conveyor systems?” and “How does a conveyor belt work?” We’ll also explain how Span Tech can help you, whether you need a standard conveyor or a specialty conveyor that goes beyond anything you’ve seen before.

What Is a Conveyor Belt System?

A conveyor belt system is a quick and efficient mechanical handling device that moves materials from one place to another. There are various types of conveyor systems, but they typically include a frame to support a set of wheels, conveyor rollers or a belt. Materials are set on top to move them from place to place. A conveyor belt may be powered manually, by gravity or, most commonly, with the help of a motor. There are many different kinds of conveyor belt systems, each tailored to execute a specific task.

Benefits of Conveyor Systems

When people move heavy items, it takes longer, costs more and increases the likelihood of personal injury. Industrial conveyor systems are faster at moving products from one place to the next. They can span multiple levels, efficiently moving items from one floor to another. And conveyor belts can unload materials automatically, eliminating the need for a person to wait at the end of the line to offload the products.

How Conveyor Belt Systems Work

In a typical conveyor belt system, a belt forms a closed loop and stretches across two or more pulleys. This enables it to rotate continually. One of the pulleys (the drive pulley) moves the items from one place to another. While traditional conveyor belt systems are straight, some units require turns to deliver the product to their destination. In these cases, cone-shaped wheels or rotors are used to enable the belt to follow a turn without tangling.

Common Conveyor System Parts

Conveyor systems have essential parts that enable them to operate properly. These parts will vary depending on the types of product being moved and how the system is being used. However, there are three main parts to every industrial conveyor system:

  • Belt Support: This ensures the belt moves smoothly. The support unit must be firm; otherwise, the belt will sag when you place a heavy object on it—sagging results in slower operation and poor efficiency. Proper belt tension will keep the belt tight and the system running effectively.
  • Pulley: This external component controls the belt’s movement. The working principle behind this system is that every unit has a minimum of two pulleys. One operates under power, the other is idle. Complex conveyor systems may feature more rotors along the frame.
  • Drive Unit: This unit has a counter bearing to keep the parts moving effectively. It allows the belt to shift into reverse and handle the repeated changes in direction that some systems require. Manually operated conveyor systems still use a drive unit; they just don’t have a motor.

Types of Conveyors

There are many different types of conveyors, each designed to serve a particular purpose. In addition to belt and roller conveyor systems, which are the most popular, other types include:

  • Slat/Apron: Steel, wood or other materials are used on plates mounted on roller chains to move the products. This type of conveyor is used for moving large, heavy materials like drums, crates or pallets in places like steel mills or foundries.
  • Ball Transfer: This non-motorized method of moving products along a conveyor handles products on an assembly or packaging line or transfers products from one line to another. It may also be used in sorting systems.
  • Magnetic: Using magnets located underneath stationary beds, this conveyor system is often used to move magnetic materials like machining scrap. Because they are magnetic, the conveyors can be positioned horizontally, vertically or upside down to accommodate the system’s needs.
  • Bucket: This type of automated conveyor system can be used horizontally or vertically to move and deliver materials. Typical materials used with bucket conveyors include bulk products, like sludge or sand, and foods, such as grain and sugar.
  • Chute/Trough: Another manual form of conveyor, a chute conveyor uses friction to move things like scrap materials and postal packages.
  • Tow/Drag/Chain Conveyor: Mechanical devices are attached to cables or chains that tow or drag products in these conveyor systems. Used to move bulk items in flights, bins or other attachments, these conveyors can have multiple loading spots or discharge points.
  • Overhead: Used in material handling applications that require products to be hung, this type of conveyor is mounted from ceilings with carriers or trolleys moved by cables or chains. Conveyor applications include dry-cleaning garments, parts and handling systems, paint lines or cooling and curing.
  • Pneumatic/Vacuum: Air pressure or vacuum is used to move materials or items through closed ducts or tubes or along surfaces in this type of conveyor belt. Applications include dust collection, ticket delivery and paper handling. Banks use this type of system for transporting paperwork to and from drive-up stations.
  • Screw/Auger: Screw conveyor systems transport foodstuffs like grains, flakes, pods, seeds and granules to be mixed, agitated or blended. They’re also used in agricultural applications in farm machinery and factories.
  • Changing Elevation: The purpose of changing elevation conveyors is to transport materials between various levels of conveying lines.
  • Vibrating: Dry bulk materials like gravel, aggregate and coal move along a vibrating conveyor via a tube, trough or flat tabletop.
  • Walking Beam: Employing a combination of moving and static supports, walking beam conveyor systems index workpieces through manufacturing cells. Walking beams are often used on automation and assembly lines.
  • Wheel conveyor: Using gravity or manual power, wheels transport products from one place to another. Wheel conveyors are commonly used in package handling, assembly lines and loading/unloading trucks.

How to Choose the Right Industrial Conveyor System

Before deciding on what type of conveyor system is right for your application, there are three major factors to consider:

  1. Material: This is the most crucial consideration when choosing a conveyor belt system. Think about the size, moisture content and whether the material you are moving flows or is abrasive/corrosive. Another consideration is whether the material needs to maintain a specific temperature. What is the composition of your material? Is it a powder or granule, pellet or fiber? Particle weight, density and size are also things you will need to take into account.
  2. Function: Is this a conveying or feeding process? Conveying is transporting materials from a pick-up point to a drop-off point. If so, you’ll need to know the number of points, the amount of material, the amount of time it should take and whether there will be a problem if cross-contamination occurs. Feeding is the more straightforward of these conveyor systems, requiring a straight pick-up to drop-off point. The product may need to be delivered in batches or at a controlled rate.
  3. Environment: Where is the facility located? Will you encounter high temperatures/humidity, pressure or vibrations? Are you working with fragile materials? If you use flammable or hazardous materials, potential risks and workarounds need to be assessed. The conveyor system’s size in relation to the workspace and other equipment is another consideration.

How Does a Conveyor Belt Work for Your Company? Span Tech Can Help

How does a conveyor belt work for your company? With Span Tech, it works however you need it to. Our industries archive gives you an idea of how we’ve formulated solutions for clients from many industries. We can help you boost your sorting and merging functions or create a conveyor transfer system. Maybe you need an accumulating conveyor or something completely different. Span Tech has the experience and know-how to set you up with a system geared to your company’s needs. Contact us today, and let’s talk about how we can help!

Three Considerations When Designing Conveyor Sortation Systems

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Overview

Eventually, you’re going to need a new conveyor sortation system. Whether you’re expanding your product line or upgrading your existing operations, an automated conveyor and sorting machine will play an essential role in your project’s success. To achieve your goals, you need a systematic, all-encompassing approach to your conveyor system design. Throughput requirements, product specifications and layout constraints are the top three things to consider when designing conveyor sortation systems. Read on to learn how to develop the best conveyor design to meet your operation’s needs.

The Benefits of a New Conveyor Sortation System

New conveyor sortation systems can do more than accommodate an additional product line or boost your current operations. A well-planned conveyor system design can provide a wide range of ancillary benefits, such as:

  • Promoting shipping accuracy
  • Increasing shipping frequency
  • Improving productivity
  • Decreasing labor costs
  • Streamlining facility processes
  • Reducing production costs
  • Improving compliance with health and safety regulations
  • Decreasing product damage
  • Cutting waste

In the end, these all add up to increased customer satisfaction, something we all strive to achieve.

The benefits of a carefully planned conveyor sortation system are so widespread that it’s easy to see why conveyors are considered the arteries of any operation, reflecting both the importance and actual function of any conveying system. Because the benefits can be so wide-ranging, it’s useful to incorporate conveyor design early in your project’s budget and design process.

To reap the full benefits of a new conveyor sortation system, you should consider both short- and long-term goals. Choosing the wrong system can damage products, reduce efficiencies and undermine long-standing strategies.

The best conveyor design not only accounts for existing objectives but also accommodates future growth. Designing for scalability at the outset of your project ensures that it will be easier and less expensive to add features and components down the road. Set yourself up for continued success with a conveyor sortation system that’s been thought out from start to finish.

# 1: Throughput Requirements & Conveyor System Design

Consider the true throughput requirements for your conveyor sortation system to create a technical solution that will meet your needs. Decide on the trade-offs that make the most sense for your facility. For instance, faster throughputs often limit your design options while simultaneously increasing costs.

You should consider throughput requirements on a per-shift, per-hour and per-day basis. You’ll also want to factor in how many hours per day and how many days per week your operation will run, as well as expected cycle times. Frequent stops and starts need to be figured into your conveyor system design since they can require more robust motors.

The number of diverts actually required, as opposed to desired, is another crucial consideration — each divert will need to run at the determined throughput.

Designing in flexibility is essential. You need conveyors that can adapt to your entire production flow at an optimum rate of efficiency. Flow and speed control are critical elements of any good conveyor design.

#2: The Effect of Product Specifications on Conveyor Sortation Systems

Product specifications can affect your conveyor system design in a variety of ways. At the very least, you need to know the maximum, minimum and average number of products that will be processed. Other important considerations include:

  • Product dimensions
  • Product weight
  • Load distribution
  • Package orientation

You’ll also want to take into account product characteristics like fragility and sensitivity to temperature, as well as the product’s shape. Products with a hard, flat bottom, such as beer crates, have different conveying needs than softer items like bags of jelly beans.

Another factor in designing a conveyor sortation system is whether there are issues that add to the project’s complexity, like oversized or slow-running products. Could these be excluded to streamline the design?

Whether any of these conditions are random or consistent is essential to consider.

Don’t leave your conveyor system design to luck. Thorough product testing is vital to ensure you get the proper conveyor sorting system for your operation.

#3: How Layout Constraints Affect Conveyor Design

The layout of your plant has a direct impact on conveyor design. You need an accurate, well-documented floor plan of the facility that details:

  • Column locations
  • Electrical panels
  • Overhead clearances
  • Equipment aisleways
  • Pedestrian walkways
  • Dock door spans

Other layout constraints include logistics like where products are introduced into the system and where they need to be transported. For instance, a conveyor sortation system going directly to a truck trailer has different requirements than a system going to a separate staging area.

You’ll also need to consider whether the conveyor will operate indoors or outdoors. If the conveyor is outside, is the ground stable enough to support the structure?

Other factors include whether the products need to be conveyed to different levels and whether a gradual incline or vertical conveyor would work best. Your conveyor system design also needs to account for adequate drainage for products that leak and appropriate ventilation for products that emit fumes. Proper lighting is a requirement where manual operations are in use.

The environment the conveyor will run in is another consideration. Is it so cold that lubricants will thicken? So dusty that components will wear more quickly? So wet that rust will be an issue? And what if the conveyor has to maneuver through multiple environments? A bakery conveyor sortation system, for instance, may need to transport products through ovens and freezers, each area with its own requirements.

Trust Your Conveyor Sortation System Needs to Span Tech

Now that you know the top three factors to consider, it’s time to design a conveyor sortation system for your facility. Span Tech has years of conveyor system design experience, delivering unique, customizable, technical solutions for our customers. We embrace challenges and always seek to engineer conveyor sortation systems tailored specifically for your needs. Contact us today to learn more.

PACK EXPO 2021 – Visit Span Tech at Booth #LS-6125

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PACK EXPO is back as an in-person packaging convention, and we can’t wait to see you! Span Tech is all set for another fun-filled, action-packed, face-to-face packaging trade show September 27-29, 2021! Head to PACK EXPO 2021 Las Vegas to learn about all the new and innovative conveyor automation products from Span Tech Conveyors.

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Let’s Reconnect at PACK EXPO Las Vegas

After the past year, we can’t wait to connect personally. Packaging Expo Vegas is an invaluable opportunity to network, research and experience the latest package conveyor technology upfront and in person. At Span Tech, we are family, and we want to create that same special relationship with you.

We’ll show you what sets us apart from other packaging conveyor belt companies and how we provide superior packaging conveyors for the following industries:

PACK EXPO 2021 In-Booth Demonstrations & Giveaways

At the Span Tech conveyor company booth, we will demonstrate our NEWEST fixed & adjustable guide rail product: EZGUIDE™. Eliminate packaging conveyor safety concerns and product changeover times with this innovative new guide rail. This material handling technology revolutionizes the way you look at and use standard guide rail. And the universal bracket allows for installation on ANY automated conveyor belt.

Let us show you what makes the EZGUIDE™ adjustable package conveyor guide rail so special — and every participant in the EZGUIDE™ demonstration walks away with a free giveaway!

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Other packaging conveyor systems products will be demonstrated, including:

PACK EXPO Innovation Stage Presentation

  • When – Tuesday, September 28 | 10:00 am – 10:30 am
  • Where – Innovation Stage 2 (C2058)
  • Topic – New Conveyor Packaging Guide Rail System Tackles Safety Concerns & Product Guidance Issues

Free Registration For Pack Expo Las Vegas

Your success is our success — that is why we take pride in building the highest quality packaging conveyors at the overall lowest cost. In fact, we are so excited to show you how our packaging conveyor belt products can help your company’s productivity and efficiency, we are footing the bill for your PACK EXPO registration.

Simply use code 57J25 while registering, and gain access to PACK EXPO Las Vegas 2021 for free. Have questions? Contact us or give us a call at 866-943-0470.

Can’t wait to see you there!

Guide To Automated Warehouse Systems

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We are far beyond the labor-intensive manufacturing world of the past. Previously, the majority of your success was defined by the sheer size of your labor force. Today, more and more companies are utilizing automated warehouse systems to streamline production and increase efficiency. The changing of the guard happened alongside the advancement of technology and automation. Manufacturers began to harness these things for convenience’s sake and to gain a sizable edge over the competition.

To compete in today’s world of manufacturing, efficiency is essential to the process, and to this end, nothing helps to facilitate efficiency better than an automated warehouse. Keep reading to learn how warehouse automation works and how manufacturers can use automated warehouse systems to put themselves and their employees in a better position to be successful.

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What Is Warehouse Automation?

Moving inventory into, within and out of warehouses and then delivering to customers with little-to-no human assistance is referred to as warehouse automation. Businesses that implement an automated warehouse system into their operations can neutralize labor-intensive assignments that involve manual data entry and analysis, as well as repetitive physical work.

A real-world example of automation in action is when a warehouse employee loads an autonomous mobile robot with heavy and cumbersome packages. The robot then moves the inventory from one end of the warehouse to the other, with the inventory’s final destination being the shipping zone.

During the transport of inventory, software records the movement of the supplies, keeping all records current. Consequently, the utilization of these robots helps to improve the speed, reliability, accuracy and frequency of this task.

An automated warehouse begins with a warehouse management system (WMS), data collection and inventory control. Despite having considerable upfront costs, the immediate and long-term benefits are well worth it.

By incorporating robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) integration onto the warehouse floor, you’ll reduce human error and improve overall operations. The incredible benefits and exciting future of warehouse automation know no bounds.

Automated Warehouse Systems

An automated warehouse system or automated storage and retrieval system (AS/RS) is a GTP technology that uses vehicles, carousels and cranes to efficiently move inventory throughout the warehouse to warehouse storage locations.

Conveyor Systems

One of the oldest automated warehouse technologies is conveyor systems. Simply put, conveyors move materials along assembly lines to different work stations such as sorting areas, packaging areas and shipping areas.

Voice Picking and Voice Tasking

This automated warehouse system requires employees known as pickers to use wireless headsets to communicate with taskers in order to coordinate picking tasks and movements. Voice picking infuses communication technology into a warehouse order picker’s routine.

Pick-To-Light Systems

This system utilizes barcodes and LED lights to help employees locate the necessary items to fulfill orders. Pick-to-light systems lessen human exertion by decreasing walking time and increasing productivity by helping to locate items faster.

Sortation Systems

This automated warehouse system can access the correct locations and the proper bins using different technologies that identify and separate items, directing them to pick zones, packing stations or returns processing.

Drones

Typically drones are used for inventory management. They’re equipped with barcode scanners to make inventory counts and alert the staff when items need to be restocked or are stored in the wrong location.

Collaborative Mobile Robots

These robots work side by side with humans to improve productivity and picking accuracy while guiding workers through the picking process.

Automated Distribution

Automated distribution includes all systems in place to create increased efficiency within a warehouse related to distribution.

Receiving

Mobile devices can be used to capture data from your warehouse receiving area quickly. Integrated software captures, processes and stores essential data that influences downstream and upstream automated workflows.

Returns

When dealing with returns, automated sorting systems in conjunction with equipment such as conveyors can automate the return process procedure. The system can sort products to return to stock shelves or put them away in storage areas.

Putaway

Putaway is the process of moving products from receiving to storage. Physical and digital warehouse process automation makes putaway more accurate and efficient. The automation can also help facilitate cross-docking.

Picking

Picking, when done manually, is the most expensive warehouse activity by far. Did you know that warehouse travel time accounts for as much as 50 percent of all working hours? GTP systems and autonomous mobile robots markedly increase the efficiency and speed of moving inventory.

Sorting

When you sort and consolidate warehouse inventory, it can be cumbersome, confusing and time-consuming. Fortunately, the automated sortation and AS/RS systems significantly improve quality control and inventory accuracy.

Replenishment

Automated inventory tracking triggers an automatic order request when an inventory item reaches a specific par level and flags it for approval. Automated replenishment helps prevent overstocking costs and inventory loss due to stealing or spoilage.

Packaging

The environmental ramifications for using packaging materials can be compounded when done without precision. Automated packing and cartonization systems use precise algorithms to determine the best way to package material with minimum waste.

Shipping

Automated shipping systems are comprehensively helpful with the use of printers, dimension sensors, scales, conveyors and software applications to choose available carriers. Additionally, the system estimates shipping rates and places labels onto packages for shipment.

What Are the Current Warehouse Automation Trends?

Here are the current automation trends that are beginning to surface in warehousing worldwide in an attempt to keep up with technological advances and growing demand.

Widespread Use of Robots

Robots cover their cost in about three to nine months; even small businesses with minimal budgets can invest in robots.

Mobile Robots AGV/AMR

Automated guided vehicles (AGVs) and autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) are scalable and do not need two variations to the existing floor plan or the infrastructure of the warehouse.

Drones

Useful for shipping, delivery and scanning barcodes and RFID tags efficiently, operating in hard-to-reach locations.

Cobots

Cobots are specially designed to work with humans. Currently, cobots account for less than 5 percent of the robotics market, which is poised to rise to 30.2 percent in the coming years.

Upgrade Your Automated Warehouse System with the Help of Span Tech

Keeping up in today’s competitive world requires an edge, and Span Tech is poised to help you gain that competitive edge to make your warehouse even more productive! Span Tech has a bevy of professionals ready to help you strike the coveted perfect balance of warehouse supply and demand with an innovative implementation strategy and cutting-edge automated technology. Contact us to learn more about implementing an automated warehouse system into your business today!

What is the OutRunner Spiral?

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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.

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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.