5 Benefits of Conveyor Rail Guides

Conveyor Rail Guides

Overview

Whether your business is packaging, pharmaceuticals or e-commerce, you likely rely on conveyor belts to move products throughout your facility. Conveyor rail guides are an opportunity to streamline production and increase efficiency.

As products and materials travel along your company’s conveyor system, conveyor guide rails make sure your products are directed to their proper destination. The conveyor belt guides are placed at specific locations along your conveyor belts inside holders and supported by clamping heads. Spacers under the holders are used to extend the width of your conveyor belts and control how much support the rail guides give.

In this article, we will look at the many benefits that come when you incorporate rail guides into your conveyor belt system and how Span Tech can help.

1. Adjustable for Greater Flexibility

Instead of needing to rebuild your conveyor belt to handle different products, conveyor rail guides can be quickly and easily adjusted to allow your conveyor system to move a variety of materials around your facility.

2. Safe

Using Span Tech’s EZGUIDE™ conveyor guide rail system makes your conveyor belt safer for employees who need to work along the system. The EZGUIDE does not use any protruding mechanical parts that could cause safety hazards during adjustments.

Conveyor Rail Guides

3. Can Be Installed On Any Conveyor

Conveyor guide rails can be retro-fitted for addition to existing conveyor belts or included in your new conveyor belt designs.

4. Low Changeover Time

Adjustable conveyor belt guide rails are much faster to make changes on compared to traditional rail guides.

5. Reduced Cost

When your conveyor belt system is down for changeovers, your company is losing money. Less downtime for changing conveyor belt guides means greater productivity and more savings.

Discover How Span Tech Conveyor Rail Guides Can Help Your Business

At Span Tech, we understand how important conveyor rail guides can be for your business. Whether you’re looking for a transfer conveyor system or our EZGUIDE™ conveyor guide rail system, let us show you how we can help improve your company’s efficiency and save money.

Adjustable Conveyor Guide Rails 101

Adjustable Conveyor Guide Rails

Overview

Conveyor belts are an essential part of many warehouses and factories, moving goods from one point to another without human intervention. But needing to change your conveyor setup for different products causes downtime and inefficiencies. Adjustable conveyor guide rails allow you to handle products of various shapes and sizes without requiring a change to your conveyor system, and thus, they are critical to production efficiency.

 

In this article, we will take a look at adjustable conveyor guide rails, including how they work and how Span Tech can help your business be more efficient and streamline production with our custom conveyor guide rails.

What Is a Guide Rail?

As items travel along your conveyor system, conveyor guide rails make sure your products are automatically directed to their proper destination.

In recent years, adjustable conveyor guide rails have emerged as the latest technological innovation to change how conveyor systems can improve efficiency and save money. Adjustable conveyor guide rails give your business extra flexibility, as they allow you to manage different products without having to make adjustments or additions to your conveyor system. That means less downtime for your business.

  • Aluminum or Steel Rails
  • Rail Sleeves
  • Holders
  • Rail Bracket/Holders
  • Connector Plugs

Adjustable conveyor guide rails

How Does a Conveyor Guide Rail Work?

Conveyor guide rails direct your products along the conveyor operating system. The guide rails are inside holders that are placed along your conveyor belts, supported by clamping heads. Spacers placed under the holders extend the width of your conveyor belts and control how much support the guide rails give.

Types of Conveyor Guide Rail Components

There are a number of different conveyor guide rail components that work together to make a system function properly.

  • Guide rails and supports. Guide rails are usually made of aluminum or steel and can be used to extend the length of your system.
  • Rail sleeves and holders. Rail sleeves are connectors that attach the rails into the holders. Adjusting the space between rails allows you to control the support level on your conveyor belt.
  • Clamps. The clamps are adjustable and can easily take on spacers or other parts that can make your system customized for your unique needs.

Standard vs. Custom Guide Rails

Some conveyor belt systems can be built using standard conveyor guide rails. If your conveyor needs are more complex and can’t be satisfied using standard rails, you may need custom conveyor guide rails to get your products where they need to be. Span Tech offers custom conveyor systems that can be tailor-made to fit your company’s specific requirements.

Discover How Span Tech’s Adjustable Conveyor Guide Rails Can Meet Your Needs

At Span Tech, we understand how important adjustable conveyor guide rails can be for your business. Whether you’re looking for a transfer conveyor or our EZGUIDE™ conveyor guide rail system, let us show you how we can help you improve efficiency and save money.

Are Worn Out Conveyor Guide Rail Systems Slowing Down Your Production Line Efficiency?

Conveyor Guile Rail Systems

Overview

Conveyor guide rail systems are an integral part of the production line. Their job is to secure items as they move along conveyor belts.

Like the rest of your conveyor system, guide rails wear out over time. While maintenance will help prolong the life of your system, ultimately, old conveyor guide rail systems will need to be replaced to speed up production line efficiency.

In this article, we’ll talk about what causes conveyor guide rail systems to fail, what steps you can take to prevent problems and how Span Tech can help when it’s time for a new conveyor guide rail system.

What Is a Conveyor Guide Rail System?

Conveyor guide rails ensure the smooth movement of products along your conveyor system. As items travel to their final destination, rails guide your products without the need for manual intervention.

Recent technological innovations have resulted in adjustable conveyor side rails, which manage various products without using multiple conveyor belts. This reduces costs and accelerates factory production runs. The adjustable guide rail system has revolutionized the standard guide rail in factories across the country.

Conveyor guide rail systems are comprised of several conveyor components:

  • Aluminum or Steel Rails
  • Rail Sleeves
  • Holders
  • Rail Bracket/Holders
  • Connector Plugs

Conditions That Cause Conveyor Guide Rail Systems to Fail

Given the amount of punishment that conveyor guide rails take, it’s no wonder they wear out over time. Some of the factors that hasten their demise include:

  • Chemicals: Over time, the cleaning agents used on your guide rail system can begin to break down the plastic in your guide rails.
  • Friction: The constant rubbing of products against guide rails can result in the deterioration of conveyor parts.
  • Foreign Particles: Damage to the guide rail can result from contact with abrasive materials like sand, sugar, grinding particles, broken glass, etc.
  • Multiple Bends: Having several vertical and horizontal plane bends in conveyor systems can accelerate wear and tear.

Conveyor Guide Rail Maintenance

You can get the maximum life out of your conveyor guide rail system by following the manufacturer’s instructions for routine maintenance. For example, you may be directed to check the chain slack, side rails and drive unit at prescribed intervals – then perform any necessary cleaning and maintenance.

Signs of Trouble With Your Conveyor Guide Rails

Conveyor guide rails are robust and adaptable, thanks to their modular system. The individual parts can be adjusted to different operational constraints. While this is a good thing from a production standpoint, one malfunctioning part can impact the whole unit. To diagnose a problem with your conveyor guide rail system, take heed of the following symptoms on your factory line:

  • Changeover Efficiency: Is it taking longer to change over rail adjustment between products?
  • Production Run Time: Have you noticed an increase in the run time for each product line?
  • Start-up Time: Are new product runs taking more time to begin?
  • Downtime: Are you making more unscheduled stops than normal?
  • Equipment Failure: Are problems with jamming and product damage becoming more frequent?

Conveyor Guide Rail Product Line Efficiency

How Problems Impact Production Line Efficiency

Guide rail systems that are not operating effectively can slow down operations, and the extended periods required to readjust between runs mean increased downtime that negatively impacts productivity. All of this results in product losses and subsequent reduction in revenue. Other areas of the conveyor system may be impacted by conveyor guide rail malfunction:

  • Reduction in the speed and capacity of the conveyor belt. You may notice an increase in belt mistracking, which can cause uneven belt wear and subsequent problems with the tension and balance of the conveyor belt system. In some instances, the belt may completely slip off the track, effectively stopping factory production while repairs are completed.
  • Product mishandling. In conveyor transfer systems, as products move from one place to the next, they may get caught in the system, creating a jam or clog that halts the operation. When this happens, products may leave a residue that builds up under the belt, resulting in rollers and pulleys that slow down or stop.
  • Other Hazards: The accumulation of certain residues may create toxic fumes or a fire hazard.

Rely on Span Tech When It’s Time for New Conveyor Guide Rail Systems

When conveyor guide rail systems have outlived their productive work life, Span Tech can step in with highly efficient, easy-adjust options for your conveyor system. We proudly serve companies from a wide range of industries, from food production and packaging to pharmaceuticals and cosmetics. For over 30 years, we’ve continued to innovate conveyor systems to provide our clients with modern solutions for product handling. From sorting conveyors to specialty conveyors, Span Tech can create custom solutions for your business. Get in touch today and let us know how we can help you boost factory production!

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.

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.

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.

How Beverage Industry Trends Are Changing Beverage Conveyor Systems

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Overview

Forecasts indicate that the beverage industry will continue to expand through the foreseeable future. With that growth, new beverage industry trends are emerging that will significantly affect beverage production conveyors. Conveyor manufacturers will need to adapt to these trends to stay relevant in the evolving beverage industry. Read on to learn about these trends and what they mean for beverage conveyor systems.

Underlying the beverage industry changes are several overarching trends, including the growing influence of millennials, who are emerging as the largest generational segment of the population. Their values and behaviors directly impact the beverage market. Preferences for convenience, healthier beverages and sustainable packaging are just three key millennial issues that affect the entire industry.

The Effect of SKU Proliferation on Beverage Conveyor Systems

The trends toward greater convenience, smaller bottles and healthier beverages have contributed to an explosion of SKUs. Now, instead of a set number of standard-sized bottles in a standard-sized box, beverage manufacturers must deal with various bottle and package sizes to meet market demands.

The proliferation of SKUs requires changes in conveyor technologies to accommodate the multitude of container and open-tray sizes. For instance, conveyor system manufacturers need to develop belt conveyor systems that prevent big and small boxes from colliding on the same belt.

Conveyors also need to be able to transport products at lower speeds without affecting overall throughput. Belt conveyors and driven-roller conveyors with tighter centers are two solutions that provide more accurate control of their conveying systems to improve throughput without the danger of damaging cases.

One result of the proliferation of SKUs is shorter production runs, which increase the need for more flexibility, higher production speeds and faster change-overs. Beverage conveyor systems need to be able to accommodate all these demands.

Beverage Conveyor Systems and Packaging Lightweighting

The growing requirement for eco-friendly and sustainable packaging is another beverage industry trend that affects the conveyor market. The increasing emphasis on sustainable packaging led to the lightweighting of primary packaging, like cans, and secondary packaging, like boxes. The lighter containers and cases require conveyors that move at adjustable speeds and incorporate different belt systems.

Reducing the weight of packaging often entails the use of less sturdy material. To prevent damaging more fragile packaging, beverage conveyor systems need to use belt conveyors or closer centers on driven-roller conveyors, as well as processes that slow conveying speeds.

Brand Growth and Beverage Conveyor Systems

Evolving trends in the beverage industry include the growth of brands, varieties and flavors of beverages. This explosion of choices has led to a more diverse universe of packaging that must be conveyed, with taller and smaller packaging more likely to fall off conveyors. Manufacturers of beverage conveyor systems accommodate this trend by incorporating gentler inclines and declines.

Deteriorating Profit Margins in the Beverage Market

These trends in U.S. beverage manufacturing, along with ongoing supply chain issues, increasing material expenses and rising labor costs, have led to deteriorating profit margins across the beverage industry. This affects all market segments and is reflected in beer and soft drink industry trends.

In many cases, beverage manufacturers are reluctant to pass the cost increases to customers, further exacerbating the decline in profit margins. As the beverage industry looks to contain production costs, manufacturers of beverage conveyor systems can play an essential role in the process by increasing automation, improving throughput and providing conveyors that do more in less space.

In addition to beverage industry trends, manufacturers of beverage conveyor systems also must consider the larger trends affecting the overall conveyor industry. These overarching trends include the demand for quieter operation, the need for more simplicity and the use of advanced materials. Conveyor manufacturers who take these trends into account will be ahead of the game.

Trust Your Beverage Conveyor System Needs to Span Tech

Span Tech has years of experience developing and manufacturing beverage conveyor systems, and we understand the effects of emerging beverage industry trends. We can design and implement a system specific to your needs, helping you overcome your most difficult conveying challenges. Contact us today for the assistance you need.

Six Benefits of Using Food Conveyor Systems in the Food Industry

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Food processing and packaging require a great deal of material handling. Raw materials and finished goods need to be transported over long distances under sanitary conditions. Food processing plants once relied solely on manual labor to perform these functions, using up large amounts of time and money. But increasing levels of automation, including the use of food handling conveyors, have revolutionized these operations. Read on to learn how food conveyor systems have made a difference in the food industry by improving quality, production efficiencies and worker safety.

History of Food Conveyor Systems

Conveyors were first used in the late 1700s to move freight onto ships at port. Originally operated with hand cranks, these early conveyors quickly morphed, and within a few years, they were powered by steam engines. Mechanically powered conveyors spread to other industries over the next 100 years and were eventually adopted by the food processing industry.

Regardless of the application, all conveyors share many of the same components:

  • A motor controller
  • A power mechanism that manages conveyor speed
  • The conveyor’s support structure
  • A belt, tray, screw or other means of conveying the material

As food production became more industrialized, manufacturers quickly realized the advantages of food conveyor systems. Operations no longer needed to wait on workers to move heavy loads to different factory locations, creating important production efficiencies. The introduction of the food conveyor belt also helped the food industry meet increasing state and federal regulations — conditions became more sanitary as food was handled less.

Manufacturers use food conveyor systems to move:

  • Raw materials from storage to the processing area
  • Finished products onto the packaging line
  • Packaged goods to the shipping area

Benefits of Food Handling Conveyors

Increased automation in the form of food conveyor systems brought benefits to the food industry that extend well beyond improved sanitation. Food manufacturers that installed conveyors realized a wide range of advantages. Some of the main benefits include:

1. Higher Production Rates

As in any industry, automation increases productivity. In the case of the food industry, food handling conveyors allowed bulk foodstuffs to be moved more quickly so the operations could process more food in less time.

2. Better Worker Safety

With the adoption of food conveyor systems, workers no longer need to move heavy loads over long distances. This removes one of the prime causes of worker injuries.

3. Lower Labor Costs

More food handling conveyors mean fewer workers needed to complete the tasks. This reduces labor costs, including not only wages and benefits but also expenditures for recruitment, training and retention.

4. Fewer Errors

Because they’re automated, food conveyor systems will always transport the right products to the right place, reducing the chance of human error.

5. Improved Compliance With Quality Standards

The use of food-grade conveyors reduces the likelihood of contamination and breakage, allowing manufacturers to more easily maintain quality standards.

6. Increased Versatility

Both the speed and direction of material flow can be changed on food conveyor systems, making conveyors a versatile addition to food processing operations. Conveyors’ modular design also means they can be reconfigured to meet changing production requirements.

Food Conveyor Systems for Every Need

Customizable food handling conveyors can meet any requirement of the food industry. They can merge, accumulate, incline, decline, divide, vertically convey, deposit, reject and reclaim foodstuffs as needed. Specialty systems like washdown conveyors help food manufacturers meet sanitary regulations. Wire mesh belt conveyors are ideal for use around freezers, and wedge conveyors can be used for transferring the boxes used in food packaging.

Food Handling Conveyors That Meet Your Requirements

As a leader among food conveyor manufacturers, Span Tech has the expertise, knowledge and experience to design the food and beverage conveyor systems that are right for your application, whether your operation involves fruit, meat, vegetables, convenience foods, dairy, frozen foods, baked goods or more.

As we engineer your custom food conveyors systems, we take into account a wide range of design considerations, including the available space, the kind of food being transported, the required speed of movement and the height and distance the food must cover. Specifications can include drive location, throughput, rated speed, load capacity and frame configuration.

Contact us today for an estimate on the food handling conveyors that will overcome your toughest challenges.