Guide to E-Commerce Warehouse and Distribution Center Automation and Conveyor Solutions

E-Commerce Warehouse and Distribution Center Automation and Conveyors


With the continued growth of online shopping, spurred in part by the pandemic, e-commerce automation solutions are more important than ever. In 2022, e-commerce sales in the US topped $1 trillion for the first time, a 7.7% increase from the previous year. An e-commerce conveyor is critical to the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of an e-commerce warehouse.

Conveyor systems are already used widely throughout e-commerce operations, optimizing processes in order to achieve a wide range of benefits for your business as a whole, as well as the consumers you serve.

In this article, we will explore the benefits of e-commerce conveyors and other e-commerce automation solutions.

What Is an E-Commerce Conveyor?

An e-commerce conveyor is a type of conveyor system specifically designed for use in e-commerce distribution centers, warehouses, fulfillment centers and other facilities.

E-commerce conveyors are designed to handle a wide variety of products, including small packages, large boxes and irregularly shaped items. They can be used for a range of tasks, including order picking, sorting, packing and shipping.

Some of the key features of e-commerce conveyors include:

  • High-speed operation
  • Modularity
  • Scalability
  • Flexibility

They can be configured to fit the specific needs of the facility, and they can be easily modified or expanded as the business grows or changes.

E-commerce conveyors play a critical role in the efficient and effective operation of e-commerce facilities, helping businesses meet the demands of their customers and stay competitive in the market.

Why Is a Conveyor System Necessary for E-Commerce?

In the fast-paced world of e-commerce, order fulfillment and delivery speed are critical factors in customer satisfaction. To keep up with the demand for faster and more efficient order processing, companies must optimize their e-commerce warehouse and distribution center operations. One essential element in achieving this goal is the use of conveyor systems.

Conveyor systems offer a highly automated and efficient means of transporting products throughout an e-commerce fulfillment warehouse. They can handle a wide range of products, from small items to large and bulky items, and can transport them quickly and safely from one area to another. With the use of conveyor systems, e-commerce companies can significantly reduce the time and labor required to move products from one location to another.

In addition, conveyor systems allow for greater control and visibility over product flow, enabling companies to track inventory and order status more accurately. This can help to reduce errors, minimize order fulfillment times and improve customer satisfaction.

What Are the Benefits of an E-Commerce Conveyor System?

A conveyor system is essential for e-commerce facilities for several reasons:

  • Improved Efficiency: An e-commerce conveyor system can significantly increase the speed and efficiency of order fulfillment processes. With a conveyor system, items can be transported quickly and accurately from one location to another, reducing the time required for order processing and shipment.
  • Increased Productivity: Automated conveyor systems can handle large volumes of products, which helps to increase productivity and throughput. E-commerce automation workers can focus on tasks such as picking and packing rather than moving products from one location to another.
  • Better Accuracy: A conveyor system can help improve order accuracy by reducing the likelihood of errors that can occur when products are manually transported. With an automated conveyor system, products are transported with precision, reducing the chances of misplaced or damaged items.
  • Flexibility: E-commerce conveyor systems can be customized to fit the specific needs of the facility. This means that the system can be adapted to handle different types of products and accommodate changes in the business’s needs.
  • Reduced Costs: By reducing the amount of manual labor required for order fulfillment, a conveyor system can help businesses save on labor costs. Additionally, by improving efficiency and throughput, businesses can fulfill more orders and generate more revenue.

eCommerce Warehouse Conveyor

What Types of Conveyors Are Most Suitable for E-Commerce?

E-commerce involves handling many different types of products. Therefore, choosing the right type of conveyor for e-commerce can be a challenging task. Here are some types of conveyors that are most suitable for an e-commerce warehouse or distribution center:

  • Belt Conveyors: Belt conveyors are commonly used in e-commerce because they are versatile and can handle a wide range of products. They are ideal for transporting packages, boxes and other items.
  • High Speed Switch Conveyors: High speed switch conveyors are essential for e-commerce facilities that demand rapid and accurate diversion of products between conveyor lines. These conveyors excel in optimizing material handling operations, facilitating seamless sorting and distribution of items.
  • Sortation Conveyors: Sortation conveyors are designed to sort products based on their size, shape and weight. They are the perfect solution for e-commerce distribution centers or warehouse that require high-speed sorting and distribution of products.
  • Vertical Conveyors: Vertical conveyors are suitable for transporting products vertically between different levels of an e-commerce distribution center or warehouse. They are the perfect conveyor for multi-level order picking and storage.
  • Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs): AGVs are ideal for e-commerce applications that require flexible and autonomous material handling. They can transport a wide range of products, including small and large items, within an e-commerce warehouse or distribution center.

What Types of Sortation Equipment Are Best for E-Commerce Conveyors?

Sortation equipment is an essential component of conveyor systems in an e-commerce operation. Conveyor sorter systems allow for the rapid and accurate sorting of products, ensuring that orders are fulfilled quickly and efficiently.

Here are some types of sortation equipment that are best suited for e-commerce conveyors:

  • Shoe Sorters: Shoe sorters are ideal for e-commerce operations that handle a high volume of small to medium-sized products. Using a series of shoes or diverters, they sort products into different chutes or bins based on predetermined criteria such as size, shape and weight.
  • Cross Belt Sorters: Cross belt sorters work best for e-commerce operations that handle larger and heavier products. They use a series of cross belts to transport products to the appropriate destination chute or bin based on barcode scanning or other criteria.
  • Tilt Tray Sorters: Tilt tray sorters are versatile and can handle a wide range of products in various sizes. Trays tilt to direct products to the appropriate chute or bin based on predetermined criteria.
  • Pusher Sorters: Pusher sorters are suitable for e-commerce operations that handle a high volume of lightweight products. They use a series of pushers to direct products to the appropriate chute or bin based on predetermined criteria.
  • Spiral Sorters: Spiral sorters are ideal for e-commerce operations that require a compact sorting solution. Spiral conveyors transport products to different levels and chutes based on the criteria you set.

Trust Span Tech for Your E-Commerce Automation Solutions

For e-commerce systems and conveyors that will boost your e-commerce warehouse operations, look no further than Span Tech. We have experienced teams that understand the fast-paced e-commerce market better than any other conveyor manufacturer and supplier. Our experience allows us to provide the equipment you need to ensure safe, accurate and timely e-commerce fulfillment.

Contact us to discuss your e-commerce automation needs and discover how we can help your business grow.

Guide to Metal Detection and How to Create a Metal-Free Zone

Conveyor Safety Standards


Product safety is a top priority in manufacturing, especially when it comes to food and pharmaceutical products. The right conveyor belt metal detector can give you the peace of mind that your line is safe and free from metal contamination.

In this article, we will look at the basics of metal detection on your conveyor line and how you can create a metal-free zone in your facility.

What Is Metal Contamination?

Metal contamination occurs when any pieces of metal make their way into a product during the manufacturing process. A conveyor metal detector is designed to alert you to any possible metal contaminants that make their way into your product.

There are three primary types of metallic contaminants:

  • Ferrous metals are easily detected, as they are both magnetic and conductive.
  • Non-ferrous metals are non-magnetic, but they are good conductors, so it is relatively easy to detect them.
  • Stainless steel is, for most grades, both non-magnetic and a poor conductor, making it difficult to detect.

Metal Detector Conveyors

What Is a Metal-Free Zone?

A metal-free zone is an area near the metal detector in your conveyor system where no metal is allowed. Metal detectors are constructed with high-frequency magnetic fields built into the device’s metal casing. In spite of this careful construction, it is still possible for the magnetic field to leak out of the detector’s aperture. Because of this, a metal-free zone must be created in the area surrounding the aperture.

If metal is placed too near the metal detector in the metal-free zone, the detector’s signal may spike, causing a false positive and unnecessarily disrupting your production.

How Can You Create a Metal-Free Zone in Your Facility?

To create a metal-free zone, you will need to do some calculations based on the type of metal being used and the aperture size of your conveyor belt metal detector. If the metal is non-moving, it should be at least 1.5 times the aperture height away from the opening; moving metal should be at least 2 times the height away from the opening.

What Should You Consider When Choosing Metal Detection Conveyor Products?

When you are choosing a metal detector for your conveyor system and establishing a metal-free zone, you want equipment that can do the job quickly, spot contamination in your system and provide options for product disposal. The three factors to consider are:

1. Aperture Size

Most apertures are 8 inches high by 14 inches wide, but customization is possible if necessary to meet your product specifications.

2. Sanitation

If sanitation measures are included in the conveyors, your employees will be able to quickly and easily clean the conveyor surfaces, observe products flagged as containing metal and remove them so your line can continue operating.

3. Reject Mechanisms

If metal is detected, reject mechanisms are necessary to prevent further contamination and quickly remove the product.

The three types of reject mechanisms available include:

  1. Push-on detect. When a metal detector flags a product, a pusher mechanism mounted to the side of the conveyor removes the product from the line for disposal.
  2. Air blast. A blast of air is used to remove rejected products from the line.
  3. Diverter arms. An arm swings across the conveyor belt to remove rejected products from the line.

Trust Span Tech for Your Conveyor Belt Metal Detector Needs

Now that you have learned about metal detection and creating a metal-free zone, let Span Tech help your business keep its products and employees safe. If you have questions about our conveyor belt metal detectors, please contact us today and our team will be happy to assist.

Advantages of Robotics Integration in Manufacturing

Advantages of Robotics Integration in Manufacturing


The robotics automation industry is booming across many sectors. This is especially true in manufacturing, which already surpasses the automotive industry as the largest user of industrial robots.

According to Fortune Business Insights, robotics integration in manufacturing is growing rapidly, with its strongest year ever in 2021 and more growth ahead. The global industrial robots market is forecasted to expand from $16.78 billion in 2022 to $35.68 billion by 2029.

The growth of robotics in the manufacturing industry has been spurred by two main factors: technological advancements and lower cost. Although robots have been used in high-volume manufacturing environments for some time, smaller manufacturers now have more opportunities to consider robotics as an option.

There are many applications for automated integration in manufacturing. As with any technology, it’s important for businesses to evaluate their unique applications and the pros and cons of integrating robotics into that process. This article will go over the many advantages (and a few disadvantages) of integrating robotics in manufacturing.

Advantages of Robots in Manufacturing

There are many advantages of robotics integration in the manufacturing industry. Five main advantages of robotics are:

1. Improved Quality, Productivity and Efficiency

Utilizing production robotics increases the speed of manufacturing by operating 24/7. Because robots don’t need breaks or shift changes, there is less downtime, which improves productivity and efficiency. Also, because robots can be programmed to manufacture a product the exact same way every time, manufacturers will enjoy the benefits of higher-quality products coming off their conveyor lines.

2. Increased Flexibility

It’s important for manufacturers in today’s business environment to be flexible. With constant changes in designs, materials and processes, human laborers can require regular retraining, which costs time and money. Manufacturing with robotics allows for quick changes through simple reprogramming.

3. More Consistency

Robotics integration provides more precise and reliable production at a higher level of quality. There is no worry about human error causing mistakes or issues in production.

4. Better Safety

Programming robots to perform simple, repetitive tasks reduces the risk of injury for workers. Also, production can be overseen online from a remote location.

5. Improved ROI

The increased productivity and efficiency allows businesses to see an increase in revenue and improved return on investment. Robotics in factories also frees up workers to use their skills in more challenging tasks that cannot be automated.

Advantages of Robotic Integration in Manufacturing

Disadvantages of Robots in Manufacturing

Although there are many reasons to add robotics to your factory, there are a few disadvantages to consider before you jump in.

1. High Initial Investment

Although prices have gone down, robots still require a large investment upfront. Carefully research exactly how much it will cost your business for robotics integration and analyze if the total cost is worth it.

2. Limited Expertise

Besides investing in robots, you also need skilled workers to operate, program and maintain them. That means either hiring personnel or training existing workers to handle the required tasks.

3. Technology Limitations

Although robots can handle many tasks, there are still some production processes that require more complex programming than is currently available.

Let Span Tech Help You Find a Robotics Integration Solution for Your Business

Now that you know more about the pros and cons of robots in manufacturing, you can make an informed decision on if you want to use them for your business. If you have questions or want to find out more about robotics integration, Span Tech can help. Contact us today and find out how.

Best Material Handling Systems For A Smooth Conveyor Transfer

Conveyor transition systems

The need to safely and efficiently move products along a conveyor line spans countless industries. And while most conveyors contain the same essential components, a vital part of any system’s success and, ironically one of the most overlooked, is the transfer conveyor.

Span Tech’s conveyor transfer systems were designed to effortlessly connect your new or existing conveyor systems. The conveyor transition section on a line will enable products to efficiently and reliably make a smooth transfer at various speeds and in multiple directions without disruption. The following are some of Span Tech’s top material handling systems and solutions for a smooth conveyor transfer.

Gravity Transfer

When your application doesn’t require a powered transfer, the non-powered Gravity Transfer Rollers provide an ideal method for quickly moving materials. The rollers’ small nose bar allows even the smallest of products to be transferred safely and efficiently. And the innovative design makes maintenance and cleaning incredibly simple. Gravity Transfers from Span Tech are entirely customizable, and dead plate transfers are also available and can be fitted to your system.

MicroSpan Transfer

A compact, durable transition solution, the MicroSpan Transfer makes end-to-end product movement easier than ever before. This conveyor transfer can be operated by an employee from the main conveyor shaft or can be independently powered by its own gear motors.

Wire Mesh Transfer

Wire Mesh Belt Conveyors are the perfect solution for avoiding sticky situations. This transferring conveyor shares many features with that of the MicroSpan Transfer, but is ideal for handling sticky or gummy products. The Wire Mesh Transfer is applicable for use near or within freezers and for various bi-directional situations.

Learn Why The Experts Choose Span Tech

Span Tech’s smooth conveyor transfer solutions are designed to seamlessly move products and food from one conveyor to the next. With our extensive experience in customizing transfer conveyor systems, each solution and component has been created to improve workflow and alleviate potential manufacturing risks and safety concerns.

For example, when Fleischer’s Bagels moved to its new 42,000-square-foot facility, they were producing over 50 bag designs and various sizes of bagels. At first, conventional bagel equipment was considered, but they soon found that for their level of high-volume production an automated approach would be needed. They turned to Span Tech. The expert team at Span Tech created a completely custom conveyor system with different types of transfers to boost productivity while reducing costs. To this day, they remain one of the most unique and efficient factories in the bagel industry due to their specialized use of different types of transfer systems.

Let Us Help With Your Conveyor Transfer System Today

If you need a specialized conveyor belt or conveyor transfer for your manufacturing or material handling facility, let Span Tech help. Browse our extensive selection of conveyor systems, components and add-ons to find the best solution for your facility’s unique needs. Have a question or need more information? Contact our customer service team today!

Top 6 Must-Have Sorting Conveyor Systems & Accumulation Solutions

Top accumulation & sorting conveyors

Sorting, merging and accumulating products is a vital part of production, packaging and distribution for many industries. From cosmetic manufacturing to food production, efficient product flow has never been more important. Span Tech’s line of sorting conveyors has been specifically designed to meet these needs. The following are some of the top sorting, merging and accumulation conveyors available from Span Tech.

1. Alleviate Accumulation Issues with the Powered Divert

The Powered Divert is a small accumulation conveyor at a 90-degree angle, suspended above a horizontal chain. Ideal for bagged and nonrigid products, the Powered Divert works by keeping the product continually moving forward, virtually alleviating any accumulation issues. This is an incredibly valuable application if you have a limited conveyor length where a standard divert rail would be too long. The Powered Divert is typically powered by a WA20 or WA30 gearmotor and is ideal for distribution.

2. Eliminate Skewing with the Transpositor

The flexible and adaptable Transpositor creates right-angle product transfers without any skewing. Using the sprocket-driven MicroSpan chain, this conveyor feature can be used to reject or divert even the most delicate of products. Built for product lanes or for patterns across the width of receiving conveyors, the Transpositor is perfect for feeding wrappers, case packers and hand-pack stations. This sorting conveyor feature is ideal for packaging, distribution, e-commerce and more.

3. Reach New Heights with the Vertical Switch

The Vertical Switch allows products to be discharged at multiple heights. Depending on your unique configuration, the system can be man-driven from the conveyor or independently powered — the choice is yours. And thanks to its compact design, the overall footprint of the sorting conveyor system is reduced, meaning less space is needed for optimal operational efficiency. The Vertical Switch is designed for manufacturing, distribution, pharmaceutical production and manufacturing, and cosmetic manufacturing and distribution.

4. Easily Move Heavy Products with Pushers and Stops

Conveyor Stops and Pushers are stations that sort products efficiently by ejecting them off the conveyor or halting them altogether. This is incredibly important when working with heavier products. The adaptable station can also be used for sorting specific product from the main conveyor flow, palletizing or utilizing a product reject system. Keep in mind that stoppers and pushers can be used in both pneumatic cylinder and electric motor applications. Pushers and Stops are ideal for packaging, manufacturing, e-commerce, and cosmetic manufacturing and distribution.

5. Auto-Sort Products with the Reliable Laner

The innovative Laner system auto-sorts products into lanes. It works by utilizing multiple rows of specially designed wheels to speed up product flow. This allows products to be efficiently sent down the line for final packaging or accelerated in different directions for additional processing. The process virtually eliminates product jamming, residue contamination and the slowing down of product movement, common issues when using traditional methods like guide rails or sheet metal dividers. The Laner works best with round, thin products.

6. Smoothly Sort and Merge with the High-Speed Switch

The High-Speed Switch allows you to split product flow efficiently while maintaining product pitch. Products are transferred along the production line by a series of carriers which are supported by guide rods. Powered by a pair of MonoSpan conveyor chains, the High-Speed Switch can split product flow evenly or can be programmed to divert a product whenever or wherever you need it. This conveyor feature is explicitly designed for rigid and/or bagged (not bulk) products. The High-Speed Switch is perfect for food and beverage production, packaging, manufacturing, distribution, pharmaceutical production and manufacturing, e-commerce, and cosmetic manufacturing and distribution.

Order Your Custom Sorting And Accumulation Conveyors Today

At Span Tech, we have a wide variety of sorting conveyor systems to suit your facility’s unique needs. To learn more about available conveyor solutions and components that will work for you, contact us today to start your free estimate.

3 Signs Your Operations Could Benefit From A Spiral Elevator Conveyor

If you find that the only place left for your business to grow is up, then a spiral elevator conveyor is just the type of conveyor you need. Moving your product up and down is just one of the things a spiral conveyor is good for, though. Here are a few signs that your operations could benefit from this multi-functional elevator.

You’re Tight On Floor Space

The first and most obvious reason you should invest in the spiral elevator conveyor is to help you save space. This specific type of conveyor is perfect for handling any product, no matter how delicate. There is no pressure applied at any point, so feel free to send even your most fragile materials up and away.

You Need A Conveyor With Many Applications

The spiral conveyor is ideal not just for elevating your products, but also cooling and curing them. If materials have a time delay before they can be moved to the next part in the process, the spiral elevator can give you that time. Many people eliminate separate coolers or dryers from their operation because of how efficient the spiral conveyor is when combined with these applications. You’ll save space, and money, in more ways than one.

You Need To Elevate Products Quickly

With speeds up to 250 fpm (76.2 mpm), the OutRunner Spiral Elevator will distribute your products efficiently without sacrificing gentleness. You also don’t have to worry about having a product range that is too broad — the design of this spiral conveyor evenly distributes the load amongst each tier, meaning you aren’t limited to which speed or incline setting you can use for each unique load.

If you’re in need of a solution to streamline your operation, you may need a spiral elevator conveyor. Start your estimate now.