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.

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!

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!

How to Choose the Best Food-Grade Conveyor System

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As an individual who works in the food production industry, it’s likely that your facility’s manufacturing operations run off of an efficient, powerful food-grade conveyor system. This ensures that all food processing is done safely and quickly to reduce labor costs while increasing overall output. If you work with food-grade conveyor systems that lack speed or constantly require maintenance, your production will eventually slow down and this may cause costly issues which can hurt your profits.

The right conveyor for your warehouse will ultimately depend on your specific needs. However, there are many things to think about if you’re interested in choosing a conveyor system that is more optimized for your organization. Here are four factors to consider when choosing the best food-grade conveyor system.

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1. Your Food-Grade Conveyor Must Be Sanitary

Although this should go without saying, any food-grade conveyor you use must be sanitized throughout the day for optimal food contamination prevention. That means the right conveyor for food processing should be easy to clean with parts that are easily accessible. We recommend food-grade conveyor systems such as wire mesh belt conveyors made from stainless steel or sanitary washdown conveyor systems.

2. Food-Grade Conveyor Systems Should Have Excellent Durability

No matter how small or large your food-grade conveyor is, it should be rugged enough to handle multiple types of food processing applications. This is especially important when production involves significant volumes of material handling. The last thing you want is for any conveyor equipment to suddenly malfunction after many years of reliable service. To avoid this, make sure you order your system from trusted food-grade conveyor belt manufacturers like Span Tech.

3. A Food-Grade Conveyor Must Meet Regulations

Not only should your food-grade conveyor belt material be sanitary to handle various types of products, it must also be compatible with regulations involving the FDA, USDA, BISSC and CE. Otherwise, you may face legal challenges which can put a halt to your production. Fortunately, Span Tech has you covered with microspan transfer conveyor systems and much more industrial equipment that satisfies the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

4. Food-Grade Conveyor Systems Should Minimize Costs

A great food-grade conveyor system is capable of moving large quantities of food products at all times. If any aspect of operations gets bogged down, this can lead to unwanted manufacturing or production downtime. Ultimately, this will cut into your profits as less volume of your products will leave the warehouse on time. This can also tarnish your reputation with vendors which can be even more catastrophic. Be sure to only use an automated conveyor system that is fully operational and optimized to your specific food processing needs.

Find Excellent Food-Grade Conveyor Systems at Span Tech

Now that you know what to look for when purchasing a food-grade conveyor upgrade, check out some of the systems that Span Tech offers. From wedge conveyor systems to spiral elevator food-grade conveyor systems, our equipment will fit various space requirements without compromising performance. Browse our selection or start your estimate today. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at any time and we’ll be happy to assist you.

Conveyor Belt Cleaning & Disinfecting Methods for Food-Grade Conveyor Systems

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Conveyor belt cleaning is a vital part of maintaining and operating a food manufacturing, processing or packaging machine or conveyor system. Food safety and hygiene are crucial concepts in the food industry. While food safety is more encompassing, food hygiene is one of the practices that ensures overall food safety. Poor food handling during food processing can pose a health risk to many people.

Food processing plants, small or large, ensure food safety and hygiene by utilizing quality raw materials and high-grade machines, as well as maintaining a hygienic process. A conveyor belt is standard equipment found in many food processing plants and thus has the potential to collect disease-causing germs.

Since the food is usually in direct contact with the conveyor belt, the belt must be kept clean at all times. It is a major part of regular conveyor belt maintenance. Keep reading to learn some of the various methods for conveyor belt cleaning and how to disinfect food-grade conveyor systems.

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Food-Grade Conveyors & Food Processing

Food processing conveyor belts are helpful for various functions in the food and beverage industries. They ensure the swift and accurate delivery of items for further processing or packaging. For most industries, every food item must pass through the conveyor belt. This means it is easy to contaminate an entire production batch if the conveyor is not adequately clean.

The big concern then is, how do you effectively clean this equipment? Unfortunately, it is not so easy to clean conveyor belts. For most companies, their cleaning techniques do not produce optimal results every time.

Things To Consider Regarding Conveyor Belt Cleaning & Disinfection

There are various regulations concerning food processing conveyor belts. And the European Hygienic Engineering and Design Group (EHEDG) has guidelines for food conveyor belts as well. These regulations aim to ensure total food safety and hygiene. Your conveyor belt maintenance manual should also have some helpful information.

However, there are various things to keep in mind before opting for a standard cleaning method. The following can also help determine how frequently you should clean your conveyor belt.

  • Belt Soiling. Soiling contributes to microbe growth. If the belt soil builds up fast, you will need to clean more often. Also, the longer the soil remains on the belt, the more difficult it is to clean. The contaminant will also spread to other conveyed items if left uncleaned.
  • Material Volume. The material volume of the conveyor belt also determines how much cleaning it is going to need. Of course, there is higher contamination when the food-grade conveyor belt has a large material volume. If the belt is used heavily, then the cleaning should come more frequently.
  • Processed Food. The type of food that goes on the belt is also essential. Note that sticky foods are more prone to carrybacks.
  • Company Size. While small companies can use manual cleaning methods, it might be more difficult for bigger processing plants.

Cleaning and disinfecting food-grade conveyor systems is not only about hygiene. There are other mechanical advantages as well. Some early signs or markers that will indicate the extent of your conveyor cleaning needs include the following:

  • Mistracking. One reason conveyor belts are effective is their alignment. But debris buildup on the track could cause misalignment. This can lead to the belt wearing out faster and might also affect the processing of some items as the alignment is disrupted.
  • Material Spillage. Spills are common on inclined and horizontal troughed belts. But spills have the potential to pose a safety hazard if not cleaned up as soon as possible. Excess buildup can ruin the belt and increase food spills.
  • Carrybacks. This is one of the most typical faults on conveyor belts. It happens when some materials remain stuck to the conveyor belt.
  • Slippage. Buildup on the pulley of your conveyor could also reduce its efficiency. It can make the belt slip around the drive or pulley head.

Conveyor Belt Cleaning & Disinfecting Methods for Food-Grade Conveyor Systems

Conveyor systems, like easy clean food-grade conveyors, are designed and adapted for heavy washdowns. They make it possible to achieve optimal sanitation efficiently and safely. A new technology involves the use of an autonomous tensioner and provides more efficient and cleaner tensioning.

There are various conveyor belt cleaning methods. The level of contamination and type of food conveyor often determine the method used.

Manual Cleaning Methods

You can clean your food-grade conveyor belt using some manual methods. These include:

  • Sweeping and brushing out the debris and carrybacks
  • Scrapping sticky foods and food fragments
  • Scrubbing stains along the belt
  • Rinsing
  • Wiping and vacuuming to dry and remove residue

Manual cleaning is labor-intensive and consumes a lot of time. Thus, it could delay production and reduce the company’s productivity. For these reasons, it might not be the best cleaning method. It is an affordable method, though. So, it could be effective for small food processing companies.

There is another limitation to manual cleaning, however. It might be impossible to reach some parts of the conveyor belt. In order to reach these inaccessible parts, you may need to fully dismantle the equipment, which is certainly not ideal.

Some of the tools you might require for manual cleaning include a water brush, brush cleaner, a roller and a wash box.

Semi-Automatic Cleaning Methods

Cleaning can be semi-automated. More extensive processing plants commonly undertake it. With this method, some parts of the cleaning process are automated while other operations are done manually. The automated aspects include dry vacuuming, spraying and rinsing. Brushing and scraping are manual operations in semi-automated cleaning.

Semi-automated cleaning is considerably faster than pure manual cleaning. It is, however, still laborious and time-consuming for larger processing plants. You could also need some of the materials mentioned in manual cleaning. This includes the cleaning brushes and wash box.

Fully Automatic Cleaning Methods

As you can see, there was a definite need to find a cleaning method for food processing conveyor belts — this ideal technique needed to reduce equipment downtime and be cost-effective. Automatic conveyor belt cleaning uses a mechanism called a clean-in-place (CIP) system. It is less laborious, ensures safety and reduces downtime.

Some belts use compressed air. This installation permits sustained airflow through the belt. It is an expensive method but quite effective. The return on investment (ROI) is quite reasonable as it drastically reduces spillage and ensures optimized production.

How To Clean A Belt with Dry Steam and CIP

For better results, you can combine dry steam with CIP to clean a food-grade conveyor. Dry steam has just 5% moisture content in superheated steam. This has a remarkable sanitizing effect that will rid your belt of oil, soil and other contaminants.

Using a CIP dry steam cleaner technique conserves a lot of water. Unlike the usually wet steam, dry steam saves you up to 98% water with a steam temperature of 290 °F. Therefore, there is no hiding place for microbes to go. The belt also dries almost immediately.

Upgrade Your Food-Grade Conveyor System Today with the Help of Span Tech

Food processing is a crucial subject in food safety and hygiene. Conveyor belts are central to this. It is imperative that you have the right cleaning equipment to prevent contamination of food items. Use Span Tech’s easy conveyor belt cleaning systems to keep your production line healthy and safe. Contact us today to learn more about implementing food-grade conveyor systems into your business today!

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.

The Advantages to the OutRunner Spiral Conveyor System

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Spiral conveyor machines are some of the best conveyor solutions in the industry. However, some feature drum drive systems which are prone to issues that can affect overall performance. The OutRunner Spiral conveyor system, on the other hand, is extremely efficient and utilizes innovative technology to optimize and streamline productions. In this article, we’ll dive into spiral conveyor machines and explore the advantages to the OutRunner Spiral conveyor equipment by Span Tech.

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What Are Spiral Conveyors?

Spiral conveyors pack a long distance into a small footprint. These types of changing elevation conveyors have been used for many decades to cool bakery products as they exit the baking process, as well as other food production applications. The old way of driving these conveyors uses a large, powered drum in the center. The conveyor chain is wrapped around the drum and, through friction between the chain and the drum, the chain is pushed forward. While there is an end drive separate from the drum drive that provides pull tension to the chain, the chain can still slip as the drum rotates.

In a typical drum spiral design, the chain runs against vertical cage bars that are spaced evenly to form a cylindrical shape. These bars have a slip-on plastic cover that protects the system from wear. Unfortunately, the major weakness of all drum-driven spirals is sanitation. Since the conveyor runs on a support system that is fabricated around the drum, the chain must be removed to clean the drum’s cage bars. In fact, some spiral conveyors have thousands of feet of chain, which makes the cleaning process a very long and impractical process. That’s why sanitation engineers typically look in the spirals first during an outbreak of bacteria.

In the case of the technology present in the OutRunner Spiral conveyor, however, this new system changes how these spirals are driven. Let’s look further into this solution and break down the benefits of the OutRunner Spiral machinery.

About the OutRunner Spiral Conveyor System

The OutRunner Spiral conveyor system was developed to eliminate the drum drive system altogether. Instead of wrapping the chain around a moving cylinder, this design drives the chain along its outside edge by an external sprocket. OutRunner Spirals use a vertical drive shaft with a sprocket on each tier, and the drum is eliminated in this design. Depending on the diameter and width of the chain, there can be more than one drive shaft with sprockets. These shafts are all tied together on a common mechanical connection with no electronic synchronization used, making this one of the biggest advantages to the OutRunner Spiral.

The second weakness of classical drum drives is getting products off the conveyor chain itself. Drum drive systems use long pitch chains which are usually 2” (50mm). Any product that has an unused 4” in length can have difficulty transferring product off the end of the system. Additionally, transferring smaller items can become even more challenging. One of the benefits of the OutRunner Spiral, though, is that it combats this issue by using a “Pillow Top” chain. This chain has a rounded top which forms a perfect cylindrical shape at the end drive. A knife edge plate is fitted close to the chain, making product transfer successful, even for small items.

What Are Some Other Benefits of the OutRunner Spiral?

One of the biggest advantages to the OutRunner Spiral machine is the very low horsepower required to power the system. Because there are no frictional losses between the chain and a drum, the overall power required to drive the chain is much lower. Also, because there is no massive central drum to turn, the power required to get the system started and stopped is greatly reduced. Here is an example of just what this means:

  • The MOAS Spiral in Canada: This project has 1000 feet of 36” chain in 2 spirals, one going up and the other going down. These units use a single unbroken chain so there are no transfers between the units. This system is driven with a single ¼ horsepower drive. All the drive shafts are mechanically connected.

Add the OutRunner Spiral Conveyor System to Your Operations

When it comes to your daily business operations, you may be able to streamline your productivity with help from the OutRunner Spiral conveyor machine. However, Span Tech offers many options to optimize your workflow with dozens of specialty conveyor solutions. Whether you work in beverage production, e-commerce or packaging, our conveyors are highly efficient to handle your production demands for years to come. If you’re ready to reap the benefits of the OutRunner Spiral, or are interested in one of our other specialty conveyor systems, check out our equipment and contact us today with any questions you may have. We look forward to working with you!

Tips for Keeping Up with Warehouse Demand in 2021

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Time is money, and there is nothing more important than maximizing your warehouse’s ability to get high demand products off the floor, out the door and right to your customers. The ideal warehouse demand and supply is a balance that every company strives to achieve, but no warehouse and industry are the same. Finding a tailored solution to your specific warehouse demand requires the assistance of a company with the ability to tailor its products and services to your needs. Whether you are in need of a new conveyor or conveyance component and design solutions for optimizing an existing system, Span Tech’s custom designs, patented technology and expert knowledge are exactly what you require for keeping up with demand. The beginning of each new year is a chance to reevaluate customer demand and search for innovative solutions that can impact your bottom line, and 2021 is no exception. Let’s go over some conveyance tips and tricks that will help you deal with the high demand and new challenges that this year presents.

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Principles for Tackling Customer Demand with Conveyance

Your situation is unique, especially as it relates to your high demand products. Business models, warehouse facilities, industry demands, existing technology, and many other factors make your circumstances one of a kind. Before discussing specific solutions for optimizing standard and specialty conveyor systems, here are some basic principles that hopefully apply to your situation regardless of your individual circumstances:

Stick With What You Know

Since goods-to-person order fulfillment runs on automation, it allows your warehouse to run at a greater level of efficiency. Through the use of state-of-the-art technology, your staff will have the ability to meet peak demands and fulfill orders seamlessly.

Scalable Resources & Technology

Supply and demand will fluctuate for any given industry. When you experience rapid changes in customer demand, scalable resources and technology can be extremely helpful in keeping up with demand that is either increasing or decreasing. Whether it is working with temp agencies or third-party logistics, the ability to scale your resources and technology to your needs.

Prepare for High Demand When Business Slows Down

In addition to scalable resources and technology, which allows your warehouse to quickly respond to changes in demand and supply, it is important to prepare for times of increased demand. You never want to find yourself in a position where there are not enough goods to sell to your customers. If you are able to identify when your business commonly experiences times of high demand, such as seasons and holidays, you can anticipate the fluctuations of demand and supply to start preparing during slow periods.

Avoid Warehouse Overload

While a warehouse with not enough goods to sell is a bad position to be in during times of increased demand, you also do not want to overload your warehouse. You have a variety of options to avoid warehouse overload and balance changing supply and demand:

  • Reduce inventory or upgrade technology
  • Add warehouses or limit the territory you serve
  • Optimize storage methods for time and space
  • Increase operation hours or outsource

Look to Invest in Superior Conveyance Technology

Upgrading your existing standard conveyor system with the latest and greatest innovations can help you maximize your efficiency and uptime to compensate for high warehouse demand. Our experts are constantly working to improve even the current conveyor solutions in anticipation of the new and growing conveyance demands in a variety of industries. If you are looking for a superior conveyor system to overcome growing customer demand, Span Tech can help you find a custom convey solution for you and your industry.

Find a Custom Conveyance Solution for High Demand Products & Industries

Beyond adhering to the general principles for tackling warehouse demand above, optimizing or restructuring your current mode of operations will often demand a customized solution for your specific business, infrastructure and industry. Span Tech and our in-house team of experts can work with you to craft a unique conveyor system. We can help you:

Innovation for Keeping Up with Demand

If you have a material handling problem that no one has been able to solve, let us try our hand at it. We thrive on the opportunity for new innovations! Our engineers enjoy a challenge and constantly create conveyance inventions and component solutions that can help your specific situation and other businesses facing similar issues.

Conveyor Testing to Supply High Demand Products Long-Term

We design, invent, manufacture, install and maintain our conveyor systems. It only makes sense that we also thoroughly test our conveyor systems, especially when it comes to your specific high demand products. We can test all of our conveyor solutions, including:

Addressing Customer Demand in Your Industry

Our customizable technical solutions for processing applications can be adapted to your industry-specific needs in high demand markets. Span Tech has vast amounts of experience creating tailored conveyor systems for food production, packaging, pharmaceuticals, e-commerce, cosmetics and much more. We will work with you to develop an industry-specific solution for warehouse demand.

Get Custom Conveyor Systems for High Demand Industries

Whatever your application or industry needs, the experts at Span Tech can develop a custom directional conveyor solution to address your unique customer and warehouse demands. Whether you’re interested in our standard conveyors or specialty conveyors, our team can help you find an optimal solution for your business among our premium conveyor products. Contact us to learn more about keeping up with demand using our conveyor solutions or speak to our troubleshooting experts for help with an existing system. See what Span Tech can do to help you keep up with industry and customer demand!

What is Material Staging at Span Tech?

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It’s no secret that Span Tech’s assembly team is full of amazing people. When left to focus on what they do best — building conveyors — our employees can get a tremendous amount of work done. However, every second away from the actual assembly process is valuable time lost. Luckily, our material staging process flow is the perfect solution for this. What is material staging in manufacturing and how does it help Span Tech continuously deliver premium products for the market? Continue reading to learn the answers to these questions and what makes our team the very best in the industry.

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Defining the Material Staging Process Flow

Before we explain how Span Tech incorporates a material staging process flow, it’s important to understand what the concept is and how it works. What is staging in manufacturing? Simply put, material staging is transferring the items needed from different work centers to the assembly location. Materials are staged for production at a certain time, in a particular quantity, and at a designated staging area.

In warehouse manufacturing (WM), the flow of this process must be strategically planned and assessed for the best possible business structure. This form of production planning (PP) is a crucial part of your brand’s success and, when executed correctly, the process can help employees work more efficiently in the long run.

How Do You Do Material Staging in SAP?

Systems, applications and products (SAP) create a centralized system for manufacturers that enables the team to access and share data to create a better work environment for each employee on staff. Material staging in SAP requires gathering production items to be ready at a certain time and in a particular quantity. Using an SAP PP WM material staging system helps ensure all the required materials are in the designated production spot.

Once a production order is created, the SAP determines the necessary actions for material staging. In doing this, it examines the control cycle and determines the production storage bins in which the materials should be staged. Once this is complete, automatic material staging is activated in the SAP, and goods are transported to the correct production locations.

Integrating material staging in SAP WM helps production plants operate in an organized, effective manner that keeps business right on track.

Adopting a Material Staging Process Flow at Span Tech

Now that we’ve gone over all the essentials, we can get back to Span Tech’s experience with material staging in SAP. Before implementing this process, we realized our team often spent a great deal of time away from production to do the following:

  • Searching for parts
  • Gathering parts
  • Visiting and revisiting work centers to see if needed subassemblies are ready.

The solution was to come up with a way that allowed production to continue without losing valuable time looking for parts. As Shakespeare once said, “All the world’s a stage.” Span Tech has taken that and put it into action with our material staging in SAP WM.

How Span Tech’s Material Staging Process Flow Works

Our material staging process flow is carried out with attention to detail and the utmost organization. It takes place in the following steps:

  • 1. When an order is released for final assembly, a Bill of Material (BOM) is created. This list contains all parts needed for that order.
  • 2. Purchased parts on the BOM are placed in a blue tote, and the tote is placed on a cart.
  • 3. The cart is then used to gather manufactured parts from Span Tech’s work centers.
  • 4. The cart is used to transport the purchased and manufactured parts to the designated area of assembly.
  • 5. Assembly takes the cart and begins work.

This process is proving to be quite successful and extremely beneficial. Our awesome assembly team has been able to complete many jobs ahead of schedule and keep overtime to a minimum. Our goal is to eventually move this staging process to all of Span Tech’s work centers.

Get Custom Conveyor Solutions From the Experts at Span Tech

At Span Tech, we make it our mission to provide our customers with the utmost professionalism and highest quality they deserve during their experience with us. Our material staging process flow is just one of the countless ways we’re committed to delivering premium products and exceeding our clients’ expectations. Whether you’re interested in our standard conveyors, need troubleshooting assistance or are curious about our case studies, we’re here to go above and beyond. Contact us today to learn more about our services and what Span Tech can do for your manufacturing business!