5 Key Benefits of Conveyor System Design Simulation

Without a doubt, conveyor systems can provide a number of benefits to a wide range of industries. From carefully assembling equipment to welding parts together, from temporarily storing goods to ensuring their proper distribution to delivery trucks, conveyors carry out a host of valuable tasks. They maintain continuous workflows that substantially increase workplace productivity, while sharply reducing the need for manual handling and the incidence of human error. Better still, conveyors perform these functions in a provably cost-effective manner, as these systems in the long term consume significantly fewer resources than competing methods of handling materials. For many businesses, a well-managed conveyor system is the best possible means of assembling, treating, and/or transporting materials efficiently.

Even so, setting up a conveyor system is not a task to be undertaken lightly. Installation costs can be substantial and can be impacted by unanticipated design changes that necessitate rebuilding the system in part or entirely.  Therefore, preparation is fundamental. But how can company owners properly ferret out design problems in advance? How can they ensure that the installation process will result in a conveyor system they can depend on? The answer lies in conveyor simulation.

What Is Conveyor Simulation?

Conveyor simulation is a computer-generated model that displays the ins and outs of a proposed conveyor system. This allows the user to see exactly where the various components of a system would fit into existing space. It’s important to understand that these models are far from fixed, schematic diagrams; the simulation software is designed to imitate the workflow produced by a functioning conveyor. To that end, the software shows the conveyor system in motion, allowing the user to see graphical representations of products being moved through the various workstations in real time and in three dimensions. In addition, the user can also see the conveyor from multiple angles for detailed analysis. It’s even possible to “zoom in” for a closer look.

Conveyor computer simulation may be used either to design a new system from scratch or to explore proposed modifications in an existing system.

Benefits of Conveyor Simulation

So, how does conveyor simulation help you decide if a conveyor system design will meet your company’s requirements? Simulation provides a number of key benefits, which we’ll explore below.

  • Calculate Production Rates Conveyors are highly effective in transporting products from one workstation to another in a speedy fashion—exactly how speedy depends on a variety of factors that can be difficult to calculate without putting the system into action. Figuring out how quickly products can be sent through the system is vastly important, however, as it relates closely to the profitability of the business.  Fortunately, conveyor simulation allows these all-important calculations to be proven needing to build a real live functioning conveyor system.
  • Calculate Manpower Needs When compared with traditional production methods, conveyors minimize the number of personnel needed to manage workflows. For example, conveyors generally make it unnecessary to keep forklift drivers on hand to transport materials from one end of the facility to another. Nonetheless, these systems require a certain number of workers to manage the various workstations. With a good simulation program, it’s possible to figure out exactly how many workers are needed to run the system. This optimizes staffing capacity.
  • Detect Conveyor Problems in Advance Sometimes a conveyor system design will “look good on paper” but not yield optimum productivity. There are a number of hidden problems that may not be revealed until considerable amounts of money have been spent. For instance, one all-too-common conveyor problem is “bottlenecking,” where too many Work In Process products end up crowded into a particular area of the system; a bottleneck will considerably slow down the workflow and impede production. Therefore, a conveyor engineer must detect design problems like this well before the time comes to construct the physical system. Luckily, this is entirely possible with a conveyor simulation program.
  • Demonstrate Effectiveness of the System As we have said, installing a conveyor system involves an expenditure of significant amounts of time and resources. Those responsible for “signing off” on a new system will naturally look for reassurance that the project is worth the expense. By showing a simulation of the proposed conveyor system, the team responsible for its implementation can demonstrate the integrity and efficiency of the design.
  • Avoid Unneeded Expenditures All the benefits listed above connect to the bottom line: Conveyor simulation lets businesses save money. With a proper simulation program, a business has access to a cost-effective way to improve workflow efficiency, identify problems in a conveyor system, try out new production ideas, and dispense with wasteful trial-and-error assembly and disassembly of equipment. An ounce of prevention beats a pound of cure—that old adage applies to conveyor assembly as well as anything. R-W Conveyor invites their clients to explore Richards-Wilcox computer simulation for the finest in conveyor system design planning. They are available to help you save money and map out a first-rate conveyor system for your company. 

View more of our conveyor simulations online by visiting our YouTube channel: RW Conveyor Systems

What to Ask When Designing a Conveyor System for Finishing Applications

Conveyor Systems for Finishing Applications

Productive facilities rely on effective conveyor systems for finishing applications to keep their lines running smoothly. Richards-Wilcox Conveyor Systems offers a number of conveyor systems that combine customizable features with cost efficiency. The option you select depends on the finishing applications in which your facility specializes. Below, we’ve put together a handy guide to help you determine the best paint line conveyor system for your facility’s needs.

What Is Your Material-Handling Objective?

The first factor to consider when designing your conveyor system is your handling objective. As you look at the available options, measure the exact specifications of the parts that the system will carry, including their shape, size, and weight.  This information will determine the types and capabilities of equipment needed, including attachments, load bars, and carriers.

The proper selection also relies on an accurate accounting of volume and deadlines as well as how they affect your production rate. Certain conveyor systems handle different speeds, and your production rates will also determine the amount of buffer storage space to incorporate in your conveyor design plan.

Which Finishing Application Will Your Conveyor System Handle?

The next aspect to consider is which finishing application your products require. Finishing options come in two categories: dry (powder coating) processes and wet processes. Each process has its own finishing application options that can vary widely, from ovens and washers to spray booths and degreasers.

Powder coating operates via an electrostatic dry finishing process. This process electrically charges and sprays pigment and resin particles onto electrically grounded parts. Powder coating conveyor systems provide a lasting, quality finish.

Wet processes use electrical currents in a technique known as electrophoretic deposition, or E-coating. This process uses an electrically charged liquid-based solution bath to deposit particles onto the product. Parts with crevices or irregular shapes particularly benefit from this process.

Additional wet processes include dip and spray systems, both of which typically use overhead conveyor systems. Dip line finishing uses dip tanks filled with any number of different solutions, into which operators dip their products to evenly apply finish. Sometimes, tanks contain cleaning solutions or chemicals to help prepare an item for its final coating.

Wet spray appears in a large number of applications and can work on almost any product. Paint line conveyor systems apply paint or varnish to a variety of media including metals, woods, and plastics.

Which Conveyor System Is Best for Your Finishing Application?

After you’ve completed documenting your material specifications and have chosen a finishing process, it is time to determine the best conveyor system for your facility’s needs. Several considerations, such as warehouse space and amount of finishing materials, govern this choice. Most products are finished better with overhead conveyor systems, but other parts might require inverted floor-mounted conveyor systems.

Overhead and inverted systems include monorail conveyor systems and power & free conveyor systems.

  • Monorails use a single rail and endless chain system and the entire chain runs at a constant speed. Although they’re simple and cost-effective, they offer little flexibility for process change.
  • Power & free conveyor systems incorporate two rails and a trolley. This allows the system unlimited flexibility, that allows stopping at key locations (e.g., robots, load, unload), carrier accumulation areas and diverting to multiple locations.

How Can Richards-Wilcox Conveyor Systems Help?

No matter the project, Richards-Wilcox Conveyor Systems will help you choose the best conveyor system for your facility. Whether you need a simple spray finish or a complex system that accommodates regular change, we’ll design an efficient and flexible system that will meet your needs.

With over 100 years of experience, we have a reputation for designing and implementing superior conveyor systems for finishing applications.

Contact Us Today

Richards-Wilcox Conveyor Systems offers consulting and engineering services for the most basic to the most complex systems.  Contact us today to request a quote. 



Where Can You Install Our Zig-Zag Enclosed Monorail Conveyor System?

Since its introduction in the early 20th century, the overhead conveyor has revolutionized several industries. These conveyors use an arrangement of overhead monorail systems to move products connected to the monorail from one point to another, thus allowing for seamless transitions between various process operations. This automated transportation of goods and materials minimizes human labor and, as a result, significantly reduces time, as well as cost.

Overhead conveyors offer numerous advantages. Specifically, they free up valuable floor space, thereby maximizing facility floorplan layouts and increasing plant efficiency and flexibility.

Richards-Wilcox’s Zig-Zag overhead conveyor can be used in almost any industry that requires items to be transported around facilities as part of their daily operations. They are ideal for a number of applications ranging from simple, in-line systems to complex storage retrieval systems.

Conveyor-Assisted Industries

Although the applications for Zig-Zag monorail conveyors can be plentiful, some of their most common industrial applications are:

  • Manufacturing – Overhead conveyors are an essential element in manufacturing automation. Assisting in a broad variety of processes ranging from assembly to fabrication and packaging, Zig-Zag conveyors aid the movement of parts or components – particularly heavy or bulky items – from one phase of the manufacturing cycle to another automatically.
  • Warehouses & Distribution Centers – In the warehouse and distribution industry, sorting, tracking, and packaging large amounts of items are essential to daily operations. Overhead conveyors often deliver the empty cartons or totes to the picking modules while maximizing floor space, thereby allowing workers to focus on specific tasks with minimal obstructions at ground level.
  • Automotive repair – Because automotive parts are often cumbersome, manual transportation can be impractical in the repair industry. As an alternative, Zig-Zag overhead conveyors are the ideal automotive parts conveyor for rapidly and consistently transporting car parts and bodies from one repair or assembly process to another. For instance, a car part can be moved from the stamping process straight to painting in an automated and seamless fashion.
  • Paint finishing and detailing – Zig-Zag conveyors are also useful solutions for handling products during painting and detailing operations. Since the monorails are installed overhead to increase available floor area, painters have ample working space to work with bulky and complex shapes.
  • Garment industry – Correctional institutions, hospitals, dry cleaning facilities, and hotels all make use of overhead conveyors to easily store and retrieve garments or textiles. By utilizing overhead space, multiple levels of clothing storage increase storage capacity. Enclosed monorail systems can also be used for highly efficient and automated employee uniform retrieval systems.
  • Food & beverage – Process automation in the food and beverage industry is crucial as increasing consumer demand and fierce competition necessitates faster and more efficient production. Conveyors move food products between various processes ranging from manufacturing to packaging with minimal human intervention and increased efficiency. The use of conveyors and the reduction of manual handling are also essential for meeting strict safety and sanitary regulations.

The versatility of Zig-Zag monorail systems also makes them suitable for other applications such as:

  • Inventory storage
  • Plating rack storage
  • Die-cast rack storage

Installing a Zig-Zag Overhead Monorail System

Richards-Wilcox Conveyor Zig-Zag overhead monorail systems offer several benefits over conventional conveyor systems. The standard modular construction of the monorails is designed to be durable and reliable while providing essential flexibility and customization for a broad range of applications.

To learn more about how Zig-Zag monorail systems can address your conveying need or to discuss the specifics of our installation process, please contact our technical support team for more information.

Optimize Your Space With Power & Free Conveyors

Many manufacturing and storage facilities are pressed for space, leaving smart plant managers struggling to find ways to optimize their facilities to increase efficiency and save room. Power and free conveyor systems can often provide substantial space savings, helping companies to avoid having to find larger facilities or reduce efficiency by squeezing important processes into their available space.

Richard-Wilcox Conveyor Systems offer a number of power and free conveyor systems to clients in order to help them improve productivity and efficiency in their facilities. Companies considering a conveyor system should study the advantages these systems offer and find the system that best suits their needs.

Power and Free Conveyor Systems Explained

Power and free conveyor systems are built on a two-track system. These conveyors, also referred to as asynchronous conveyor systems, allow loads hanging beneath each track to move at differing paces. Users can program the machine operating the conveyor to have loads start or stop independently of one another. Users can also have loads switch tracks if necessary.

Power and free conveyors are called “power and free” because one track is operated by a powered track while the other track has free trolleys running on the lower track.

Power and Free Conveyor Systems Explained

Power and free conveyor systems are built on a two-track system. These conveyors, also referred to as a synchronous conveyor systems, allow loads hanging beneath each track to move at differing paces. Users can program the machine operating the conveyor to have loads start or stop independently of one another. Users can also have loads switch tracks if necessary.
Power and free conveyors are called “power and free” because one track is operated by a powered track while the other track has free trolleys running on the lower track.

Advantages of Power and Free Conveyors

Power and free conveyors have a wide variety of applications in:

  • Manufacturing facilities
  • Distribution centers
  • Shipping centers
  • Assembly line operations
  • and Paint shops, among others.

Power and free conveyors have the advantage of:

  • Compact design
  • Easy installation
  • Centralized control
  • Modular design
  • and High availability of parts


Cutting Labor Cost with Technology

It’s a regrettable fact that many businesses have difficulty maintaining a labor force of necessary size to carry out all the tasks that need to get done. Payroll costs tend to cut deeply into company revenues, and it’s not uncommon for businesses to find themselves struggling to stay afloat as a direct consequence. But an increasing number of companies are turning to automated solutions as a way of reducing the expenses related to supporting employees. As technological advances continue to develop, it’s likely that automation will play a progressively larger role in the corporate world. As things stand now, business owners already have access to many kinds of automated solutions that can cut costs substantially. Let’s take a look at a few of these solutions.

CNC machines

Many businesses use industrial machinery to create precisely crafted tools and objects—screws, for example. It may be that producing these objects for public sale is the primary purpose of the company, while in other cases the company simply creates these kinds of tools for its own internal use. Traditionally, these products were made with the help of manually operated lathes and milling machines, which allow the user to shape the raw materials by cutting it with a special tool. But any company that is serious about the quality of the products they manufacture should look into the advantages provided by Computer Numerical Control (CNC) technology.

As the name suggests, CNC lathes and milling machines use computers to guide their processes. This confers a variety of benefits, such as eliminating the possibility of human error (assuming that the machine has been properly programmed) and increased production speeds (as computers can perform actions much more quickly than people). CNC machinery is already widely used in production environments that involve large volumes of material, but many smaller shops haven’t yet made the transition from manually operated lathes and milling machines. Cost is a common reason for this reluctance—CNC machines can be fairly pricey. Yet these expenses will likely be recouped by lower labor costs, as this equipment requires minimal human involvement. In the long run, CNC automated machines save money by reducing the need for trained operators.

Automated Online Assistants

These days, most businesses have a presence on the Internet—usually a dedicated website that illustrates and explains the products and/or services offered by the organization. Many website visitors, however, have unanswered questions even after thoroughly exploring the site. For this reason, a lot of companies employ customer service agents who field calls and emails from clients. Naturally, these agents cost money, and often it’s impractical to provide these services on a 24/7 basis. Automated online assistants provide a cost-effective solution.

Essentially, an automated online assistant is a program deployed on websites to interact with customers, answering their questions and comments with the use of artificial intelligence. These assistants often take the form of an avatar that appears on the customer’s screen, inviting them to type a question into a text field. A good program will be able to supply a wide range of relevant information, in a format that mimics a conversation between two people. This means that a company doesn’t need to have a human customer service agent on staff to perform these functions—which saves money in payroll expenses. Better yet, these programs work around the clock.

Conveyor Systems

For many production and distribution facilities, optimizing workflow is an ongoing concern. It can be difficult to push products in a timely fashion through the various stages they must pass before arriving in the hands of customers. The costs of maintaining a workforce competent to perform the necessary duties—e.g., fabricating, assembling, and packaging—can be prohibitive. Once again, modern technology supplies a viable answer.

In a facility where important tasks must be carried out in a speedy manner, a top-notch conveyor system can make the difference between profit and failure. Fundamentally, conveyors use tracks to carry products from one area of a facility to another. These systems may be manual or automated, and when used properly they offer a huge number of benefits. These systems transport materials without the need for human hands; this means that there is no risk of damaged goods due to employee mishandling. It also reduces the chances of employee injury. When the systems are automated, the company also gains from the elimination of production defects caused by human misjudgment—unlike people, machines do not become fatigued from repetitive tasks. In addition, overhead conveyors allow businesses to save valuable floor space.

Most importantly, however, conveyor systems can do most of the tasks that in the past required a large workforce—and do them much faster than human beings ever could. Furthermore, conveyors can be set to operate on a 24/7 basis, performing vital actions—coating, welding, bending, storing, and much more—without the need for continual human supervision. The equipment efficiently does its duty at every station. As many types of industries can benefit from conveyor systems, this is a viable option for a lot of companies that need to save on labor costs.

Chain Conveyor Maintenance: Reducing Wear & Extending Conveyor Chain Life

Chain conveyor systems greatly improve efficiency and productivity in production facilities, but only if they’re up and running. Downtime for your conveyor system can be costly and cause your facility to fall behind on important operations. Proper maintenance of your conveyor chain will ensure this invaluable piece of equipment keeps providing a return on your investment for the long haul.

The lifespan of a conveyor chain is impacted by a number of factors, including:

  • The weight borne by the conveyor
  • The environment in which the chain operates (Extremes of temperature or exposure to corrosive substances may shorten the life of a conveyor chain.)
  • Maintenance and care

Facilities managers can address the first two factors to some degree by purchasing conveyor chains appropriate for carrying the loads they will be moving and by buying chains appropriate for their operating environment. Steps to minimize chain exposure to corrosive substances and extremes of temperature can also mitigate environmental impacts to the chain.

Regular maintenance and care is the area where facilities managers have the biggest opportunity to extend the life of their conveyor chain, as a carefully adhered-to schedule of inspection and repair can greatly extend the life of assembly conveyor systems.

Explaining Wear

One of the greatest enemies of conveyor chain longevity is wear. Chains are in almost constant motion in many facilities (such as in an assembly line conveyor), and the physical impact of metal on metal or metal on other surfaces causes the chain to deteriorate over time. On a conveyor chain, wear typically occurs in three ways:

  • Contact between the pin and the bushing when the chain goes in and out of a sprocket
  • Contact between the rollers and the bushing
  • Contact between the chain and side plates if the chain contacts a guide

Over time, wear can cause a chain to elongate. Many experts suggest that chains be replaced when they reach 1.5 to 2 percent elongation. Chains operating at 3 percent elongation run the risk of damaging sprockets or causing severe malfunctions.

Regular lubrication and other maintenance can greatly reduce wear and help facilities managers get years of life from their conveyor systems.

Why Lubrication Is Vital

Lubrication creates a slippery film on the chain and any other components that may damage the chain. This film mitigates the impact of metal-to-metal contact that occurs when the device is in operation, reducing friction and wear. Proper lubrication also helps chains and chain components to resist corrosion, as it creates a barrier preventing moisture. Lubrication also helps to reduce the noise made when conveyor systems are in operation.

How lubrication is applied is also important. Lubrication must be properly applied to protect the chain from corrosion and wear. It’s not enough to just brush the lubricant over chain plates; lubricant must be applied between inner and outer plates, above the pitch point. It must also be applied between inner plates and rollers for chain systems fitted with rollers. This will ensure that the lubricant gets to the bearing surfaces and protects them from friction and wear.

Most conveyor chains are sold pre-lubricated, providing them with protection when they begin use in a facility. In some environments, it is not possible to lubricate chains, as lubricant may be a fire or explosion risk. In these environments, regular, thorough cleaning of the chain will help increase its longevity.

A Schedule of Chain Conveyor Maintenance

The following is a basic schedule of maintenance facilities using conveyor systems may follow to help keep these systems in good repair. Further maintenance tasks may be recommended by your conveyor manufacturer.

  • On a daily basis:

To keep conveyor chains running and mostly problem-free, there are a few maintenance tasks that should be performed on a daily basis. Each day, the conveyor chain should be inspected and workers should remove debris that may have accumulated in the chain. Workers should also inspect for signs of wear or elongation. Drivetrain tensioners should also be checked and drive sprockets should be lubricated as necessary.

  • On a weekly basis:

In addition to daily tasks, there are a few once-a-week maintenance routines that should be observed to enhance system longevity. Once a week, the chain should be inspected and cleaned to remove debris and dirt. Lubrication is the key to chain longevity, and all chains, sprockets, and parts should be inspected and lubricated as needed. Check the tensioners again and make sure they are within acceptable range.

  • On a monthly basis:

Monthly maintenance tasks are also important to maintaining conveyor systems. As always, lubrication remains a priority. Workers should lubricate chains and other components of the conveyor system with light-grade oil. Workers should also remove side guards and other covers and clean these locations to ensure they are free of debris. All cooling components of the conveyor system should also be cleaned and inspected for proper performance.

  • Quarterly maintenance:

Four times per year, workers should give the conveyor chain a thorough inspection to check for elongation and wear. Checking sprockets for wear is also important, as warped sprockets can cause chain elongation. Any worn sprockets should be replaced immediately. If your chain uses an automated lubrication system, you should clean the sump and change the oil and filter on a quarterly basis.

Naturally, there will likely be more than one individual tasked with performing chain maintenance and keeping records. Because there will be many hands in the task, it’s important to make sure that all authorized employees are properly trained in performing the required maintenance tasks.

In addition to teaching the maintenance tasks themselves, team leaders should make sure all employees use the maintenance logbook appropriately. Be sure to emphasize the importance of including all necessary data; without certain information, there could be a negative impact on future maintenance an operation.

It might also be valuable to develop a schedule of internal audits, if possible. At regular points throughout the fiscal year, flip through the maintenance logs and examine the quality of the conveyor chain and overhead conveyor track. If you notice any major issues or concerning trends (e.g., missing log entries, missing signatures, etc.), bring these up with the appropriate staff. Problems with conveyor chain operation could also be a sign that regular maintenance has been neglected.

Read the Manual

To get a better idea of the maintenance tasks you’ll need to perform for your conveyor system, take the time to familiarize facilities managers with the manuals for these devices. Manufacturers of conveyor systems take great care to list what maintenance is needed and when it should be performed. Richards Wilcox Conveyor Systems has been providing efficient, durable conveyor systems to clients for more than a century.

Richards Wilcox Conveyor Systems’ chains are built to offer optimal efficiency and can provide 33 percent more throughput than other overhead chain conveyors available. With proper maintenance and care, Richards Wilcox Conveyor chains will return their installation and maintenance costs, many times over, on enhanced capacity, speed, and safety for facilities that incorporate them into their operations.


Richards-Wilcox Conveyor Provides a Single Solution to Integrate Carton, Tote, and Trash Handling

Richards-Wilcox Conveyor Provides a Single Solution to Integrate Carton, Tote, and Trash Handling

Aurora, IL – Richard-Wilcox Zig-Zag® Overhead Enclosed Chain Conveyor provides a singular solution for multiple applications. Manufacturing and Distribution centers can now combine three operations such as carton, tote distribution, and trash handling all in one powerful and durable overhead conveyor system that can integrate with existing floor conveyor systems. By implementing a Zig-Zag system, companies can increase packing efficiency and productivity, realize a cleaner and safer working environment, and automate manual functions to significantly reduce labor hours.

Contact Richards-Wilcox today to get a free copy of our Zig-Zag demo video on CD-ROM and learn how you can increase productivity and streamline your distribution.
Call for more information 888-852-1020 or e-mail mail@richardswilcox.com .

Richards-Wilcox. American Made. American Owned.

Richards-Wilcox Twin-Trak Power & Free Side-by-Side Conveyor For Limited Space Applications

Richards-Wilcox Twin-Trak Power & Free Side-by-Side Conveyor For Limited Space Applications

Aurora, IL – Richards-Wilcox Twin-Trak Conveyors combine power & free capability with a side-by-side track configuration. Twin-Trak offers the ideal medium-to-high capacity solution for product storage and transportation where limited overhead space is available.

Twin-Trak’s side-by-side design uses only 8” of vertical space and can be installed in facilities where an over and under Power & Free conveyor is out of the question. Twin-Trak is designed for applications such as progressive assembly, finishing systems, and WIP buffer storage.

Twin-Trak increases throughput using controlled accumulation and delivery, eliminating the usual wait time with storage banks. Work in process is stored overhead, freeing floor space, and is transported down to meet production requirements for each stage of the operation. This system delivers the right parts at the right time to the correct operation, making a continuous flow. Twin-Trak eliminates product rehandling and manual transporting by integrating finishing and assembly processes in one material handling system.

Call for more information 888-852-1020 or e-mail mail@richardswilcox.com.

Richards-Wilcox: American Made, American Owned