Conveyor belts have become a necessary tool for a range of businesses. From food production to pharma, conveyors are the highways to the production process. However, this seemingly straightforward tool comes with it's own set of complexities...
The Conveyor Crunch-Point
The next time you unwrap your favorite chocolate-covered candy bar, you might notice some delicate grid-lines on the coated bottom. What you’re seeing is the signature mark of a conveyor system that carried your snack through a chocolate enrober and into a cooling tunnel.
There comes a point for every business when automating processes and reducing the manual effort required for recurring tasks becomes critical for supporting growth. Many customers on the Kinnek marketplace are looking for technology that helps their business grow faster and serve their own customers more efficiently.
One essential piece of equipment that underpins many of these processes - yet often goes unrecognized - is the humble conveyor belt. Typically, a lack of knowledge about the conveyor belt makes it hard to determine whether or not it's right for your small business at a given point.
What are Conveyors?
Conveying equipment moves things from point A to point B while “conveying” everything from raw materials to packaged products. For example, in the food, beverage and pharma industries, this equipment might be used to deliver empty beer bottles to bottle fillers, extruded dough to deep fryers, or even capsule-filled jars to case packers.
Conveyors are designed with a variety of mechanisms. Some choose rollers that spin on a single axis, or balls that rotate in every direction. Alternatively, chain-and-pulley or hinge systems may be better suited to the task this piece of equipment is being used for.
Though we commonly think of conveyors as having belts, they might also employ buckets and chutes, or operate as a monorail system well above the production floor. In addition, they might have features or accessories such as lane dividers (to distribute products systematically), a vibrating motor (to evenly spread coatings or materials), or pressure/photo sensors (to monitor the distance between fragile products. Understanding how each aspect of the conveyor impacts your product - and your costs - is key to any purchasing decision.
The Right Conveyor for your Business
There are a number of factors that go into selecting the right conveying system for each specific task. The first step is determining what the conveyor will carry. The item’s physical properties such as texture, weight and shape will often take precedence in a purchasing decision.
Similarly, its chemical properties will inform the ideal surface coating you'll want the conveyor to give your product, as well as the way in which you'll need to prep or coat the conveyor itself to support the process. For instance, a conveyor that’s right for a sticky ingredient like molasses will differ greatly from one that's intended to carry a pallet of heavy containers, like glass jars.
Other factors to keep in mind when deciding which conveyor to purchase include:
The speed and frequency of upstream and downstream processes;
The environment in which the conveyor is going to be operating in (Are production conditions humid or dry? Will the conveyor add noise to the production environment?);
Will the conveyor fit in to the production space?
Regarding that last point, it’s worth taking a tour of your operation facility to map out the constraints of its production space. For example, will the conveyor need to navigate any loops, turns or inclines while meeting production or packaging goals?
Additionally, consider a variety pack system that loads multiple juice types into just one case. This conveyor diverts the correct number of bottles for each type of juice into separate lanes and then accumulates them for packaging. Product diversity translates into a conveying purchasing need!
Conveying ClarityAs with many business decisions, the starting point for purchasing a conveyor is to first establish your production goals. Researching various options, price-points and suppliers can then help you determine next steps moving forward.
Looking to purchase a conveyor belt for your business? Browse a wide range of top-rated equipment and conveyor suppliers now! Subscribe to our blog to get the latest Kinnek news.