inverted conveyor for finishing systems

Inverted Conveyors For Finishing Systems

inverted conveyor for finishing systems

For an unparalleled finishing conveyor, look no further than inverted conveyors from Richards-Wilcox Conveyor. While overhead conveyor systems are often the choice for finishing applications, with products hanging overhead, our variety of inverted conveyor systems and their unique benefits can make a perfect choice for a variety of paint finishing systems.

We have inverted power and free conveyor options to complement your paint equipment and finishing equipment. Our load capacities are unparalleled, and for all of our finishing line conveyors, we offer monorail, power and free conveyor solutions, automatic control, and fully installed systems for finishing conveyor applications.

But first, consider what finishing application your products require. There are two categories of finishing options: dry (powder coating) processes and wet processes (liquid paint). Each process involves a wide variety of subroutines, so consider what you need: we cater to every kind of finishing line, from washers and ovens, to spray booths and degreasers.

Your choice of coating systems can also be a deciding factor. Before the 1990s, liquid paint was the overwhelming standard: until hazardous conditions and environmental regulations paved the way for powder coating’s popularity. Powder coating works with an electrostatic dry finishing process. The parts are electrically grounded, then charged and sprayed directly with pigment and resin particles for a quality, long-lasting finish.

However, with new techniques and improved environmental impact, liquid paint has come back into popularity. Wet processes utilize electrical currents for E-coating, a technique otherwise known as electrophoretic deposition. E-coating uses an electrically charged liquid-based solution bath to deposit particles onto the product. It’s an ideal process for irregularly shaped parts with curves and crevices, like automotive bumpers or plastic components.

There are also additional methods like dip and spray systems, both of which typically use overhead conveyor systems, to evenly apply finish by dipping the product into any number of specialized solutions. On occasion, 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. These kind of finishing applications often feature robotic components shooting industrial paint from a spray gun, paired with pressure tanks to regulate the flow of pigment.
With your method determined, it’s time to decide your means. One option is our Inverted Zig-Zag Conveyor, a monorail system with an enclosed track. The system’s innovative design uses patented Richards-Wilcox Inverted Pendants to offer unparalleled vertical flexibility. Unlike rigid pendants, Richards-Wilcox Inverted Pendants pivot forward and backward on the wheel axel, allowing free rotation of up to 30 degrees with no torque or wear on the chain. However, the cost-effective and efficient chain of our monorail conveyors may not be universally amenable to every process change you desire.

Enter our Inverted OveR-Way floor-mounted conveyor, one of our top-of-line power & free systems. On top of its clean operation and seamless robotic integration, this power & free conveyor system incorporates two rails and a trolley. This allows the system unlimited flexibility that allows stopping at key locations. For instance, with two concurrent tracks, all the painting robots in the spray booths have to do is pivot. The conveyor can then divert to multiple locations, like curing ovens.


From simple paint line conveyors to large-scale robotic systems, our expert staff will engineer a custom finishing system for your operation. Do a complete 180 on your productivity with an inverted finishing line conveyor system from Richards-Wilcox Conveyor.

overhead conveyor systems

Getting Ahead With Overhead Conveyor Applications

overhead conveyor systems

Things are looking up: literally. There are many benefits to using an overhead conveyor system.

An overhead can be great for your overhead. They are efficient, versatile, and can follow nearly any consecutive path – and if you have the ability to use multiple drives, that path can follow several thousand feet.

The word “system” makes one think of a very A/B/C, linear manner. But while it is a production line we’re talking about, your thoughts and plans don’t have to be linear. It’s important to think of your space in 3 dimensions, and that’s just what an overhead conveyor allows you to do.

Think of the underutilized vertical space in a factory. In many instances, there is an entire duplicate of your floor plan above a factory floor. By going beyond the floor level and suspending your system from the ceiling, overhead chain conveyors allow you to better utilize floor space and organize the flow of your factory. More floor space can mean more product, particularly when every inch of your warehouse is a valuable commodity. This solution allows you to easily move products in bulk and calibrate operations to a variety of specialized or general tasks.

At Richards-Wilcox Conveyor, we specialize in power and free conveyor systems.

What “power and free” conveyor means is that these systems (sometimes called asynchronous conveyor systems) are built on a two-track system: one track is operated by a powered track, while the other track has free trolleys running on the lower track. This allows 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. In short, 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.

The advantages don’t stop there. Overhead power and free conveyors offer operators unparalleled flexibility for a variety of parts and processes. From a functionality standpoint, an overhead conveyor system can move in any direction, has the capability to stop and start parts easily, perform at multiple speeds, divert to multiple locations, and provide part-tracking options, as needed. These systems use pusher dogs to engage and disengage connections between chains and trolleys. They can also accumulate loads between work cells, with multiple loops to buffer product for continuous workflow.

Richards-Wilcox Conveyor offers several high-end power and free conveyor systems primed for peak performance: we consult with clients to find and create the system that best suits their needs.

You can fuse power & free flexibility with a heavy duty over under conveyor configuration, like our OveR-Way™. A reliable, enduring, high-capacity solution for storing and transporting parts, OveR-Way™ allows operators to enhance efficiency without sacrificing quality. The equipment also enables operators to adjust production rates and minimize lead times.

By ensuring the right parts arrive like clockwork in a continuous flow, OveR-Way™ conveyor systems optimize production and boost efficiency. Quality control comes from eliminating unnecessary manual transportation or production rehandling by achieving assembly processes with a single material handling system. It even boasts an enclosed track conveyor that keeps contaminants from falling on the product, and protecting the chain from dirt and other abrasive elements to further prolong chain life. These features make this system an ideal solution for Assembly Lines, Paint Finishing Applications, WIP Buffer & Retrieval, and Long Load Handling.

But say you’ve got limited overhead space. As an additional solution to our time-tested monorail conveyors, the Richards-Wilcox Twin-Trak® Side-by-Side Conveyor boasts a side-by-side track configuration, creating a high-capacity, space-saving dual-track system. This powered overhead conveyor system is well-suited for applications like Paint Finishing Systems, WIP Buffer Storage & Retrieval, Progressive Assembly, Extrusion Material Handling, and Typical Curing Applications.

With an overhead conveyor system, you can reap all the benefits of a beam conveyor or enclosed track overhead conveyor system as long as you plan for and anticipate future needs. It helps to have a trusted partner to ease that burden and plan with you. Our full-service design team has been building future-proof and future-ready conveyor systems for decades. We assemble your assembly lines with the utmost craft and consideration. Optimize the bearing capacities of load bars and ensure the efficiency of free trolleys. We even run through a simulation so you can see how all conveyor components will operate in real-time, before it’s even fabricated and installed.

Our systems are ideal for a wide line of industries, like Distribution Centers, Automotive, Appliance, Telecom, Electronics, Contract Furnishings, Consumer Goods, Aerospace, and many more. See how we can engineer your factory’s evolution.

enclosed track conveyor for assembly applications

Enclosed Track Conveyors for Assembly Applications

Richards-Wilcox Conveyor created the original enclosed track conveyor in 1938. We’ve been evolving it ever since.

Conveyors are ideal for assembly applications, and the enclosed track conveyor still proves the crown jewel of assembly line conveyor systems. Different from a belt conveyor or roller conveyors, an enclosed track conveyor boasts unique advantages: for instance, a single driving unit is capable of moving hundreds of feet of conveyor chain, meaning minimal operating cost with maximum efficiency.

We boast customizable monorail conveyor systems with system integrators in mind. Whether you need an overhead conveyor system or beam monorail conveyor, we trust the following heavy duty custom conveyor solutions will be the backbone of your factory.

enclosed track conveyor for assembly applications

Zig-Zag® Monorail

Today, this sets the industry standard for effective material handling equipment. Using standard modular components constructed for long life, Zig-Zag® Monorail conveyors solve a variety of manufacturing problems: from simple, in-line finishing to complex storage and retrieval systems. Its 75 lbs./load capacity, standard drive packages up to 750 lb. chain pull and vertical wheels on 6” centers are well complemented by the system’s versatility.

Thanks to its simplistic, modular design, Zig-Zag® Monorail tracks can be easily installed on manufacturing floors, in auto-body shops, in receiving areas, etc. Potential applications include Paint Finishing Systems, WIP Buffer Systems, Investment Casting, Progressive Assembly, Trash Conveyors, Tote Handling, Die Cast Rack Storage, Empty Carton Return, Plating Rack Storage, Sliver Can Delivery, and Robotic Interfaces.

Zig-Zag® is highly adaptable. It is the only overhead chain conveyor that can be upgraded to a power and free system utilizing all existing components. The enclosed track design shields products from contamination that typically falls from open-chain conveyors. This also protects the chain itself from airborne dirt, abrasives and solvents, prolonging the chain life.

Zig-Zag® is built with standard, modular components, making it easy to install, modify and maintain. This also guarantees quick access to parts through local stocking distributors.
At 6 inches, the Zig-Zag® chain has the shortest pitch in the industry. This allows for tighter horizontal curves and closer load pendants with less wheel loading for more product throughput. That adds up to as much as 33% more productivity.

The system’s standard 1′-6″ horizontal and 2′-0″ vertical curves can make tight changes in direction and elevation, freeing valuable floor space for other assembly and storage operations.

Zig-Zag® utilizes vertical wheels on 6″ centers, distributing the same amount of load over more wheels and reducing wear. And since the system can transport product anywhere, it minimizes product damage throughout your operation.

Safe-Rail® Monorail Enclosed Track Conveyor

Efficient and expandable, the Richards-Wilcox Safe-Rail® Monorail Conveyor is the optimal solution for hand-push transport and storage applications.

Constructed of standard Richards-Wilcox components, Safe-Rail® can be upgraded at any time to build a more sophisticated power monorail or power & free conveyor system. Conversion time is minimal and higher levels of productivity and efficiency are achieved almost immediately.

It has capacity ranging from 10 to 1,000 lbs. and utilizes 3/16″ thick straight track (the heaviest in the industry). We stock it in 10′ lengths, it can do horizontal curves, (3/16″ thick, 90°). Safe-Rail® has Frog Switches, VMTs to automatically raise or lower product, a Carrier Insert Section, Welding Jigs, and Carrier Assemblies.

This is a consummate assembly rig, perfect for Batch Paint Systems, Tire Retread Systems, Tool Support Systems, Synthetic Fiber Handling, Light-Duty Bridge Cranes, and Manual Transport and Assembly.

This solution is highly adaptable. Safe-Rail® can be upgraded to a Zig-Zag® or Twin-Trak® system with 100 percent utilization of existing parts.

Safe-Rail® is a hand-push transport and storage alternative to manual re-handling of product. This decreases the potential for loss or damage.

Safe-Rail® frees up vital floor space, providing product movement throughout a facility and allowing for organized product flow.

It makes the most of the space you have. Safe-Rail® provides dedicated storage in user-specified areas. This system eliminates wasted space and efficiently stores product in an organized manner within the same work areas, day after day.

It protects your product and keeps your workers safe. Since product is suspended from a Safe-Rail® carrier, manual re-handling of product is kept to a minimum, reducing the chance of product damage. VMTs automatically raise and lower product, eliminating injuries related to lifting and bending.

And it’s built to last. The enclosed track design protects carriers and runways from dirt and other contaminants. In addition, Safe-Rail®’s sliding frog plates support loads through switches providing both smooth travel and longer switch life.

Richards-Wilcox Conveyor can custom design any of the above systems, and beyond. The future is here: we’ll evolve your factory to match.

conveyor control system

The Key Benefits of a Conveyor Control System

Conveyor controls are critical to the efficiency and optimization of your entire conveyor.

Think of your conveyor system as a body. You have good bones, but you need a smart brain. That’s why you need a strong conveyor control. When you enable system integration with your host computer (or other software systems) you have an optimized, holistic system that’s engineered to evolve alongside you.

conveyor control system

The right conveyor control saves time, money and efficiency. It will optimize your material handling systems and warehouse operations. It will allow for variable production rates and quick production changes. Programmable Logic Controls (PLC) allow for this necessary direct system control. This centralized network-oriented approach is best primed for automation and attaining the numbers you need to thrive.

You also need a system with intuitive operator interfaces that collects, views, stores, controls, analyzes, and manages conveyor information from the facility floor in real-time. This makes it easy for a project manager to interpret and implement changes or repairs on your productions lines. When operators and maintenance workers don’t have to take as much time troubleshooting, when they have a smart conveyor control that helps process, diagnose and debug issues quickly, it ensures your potential downtime is not your downfall.

The right conveyor control allows for built-in adaptation. Your controls should be expandable and flexible to improve workflow and meet new requirements and accommodate for additions and adaptations as you grow and generate more order fulfillment.

A smart system control software even saves lives. A conveyor control should have smart motor controllers to stop your conveyor belt in the event of emergency. It should automatically shut down the system in the case of malfunction, because any breach of protocol could not only harm your bottom line – it could potentially harm any worker on the line.

At Richards-Wilcox Conveyor, we specialize in conveyor systems design. We’ve designed conveyor systems for every size and scope of facility. We understand your factory, learn its unique needs, and know what it needs to be future-ready. We optimize your level controller, belt tension, motion control, flat belt, and material handling equipment. 

It’s essential to make your conveyor design optimized to your own space. It’s why our applications include the execution of conveyor simulations – computer-generated models to check how a conveyor system will work, before it’s ever built. The right conveyor control can even create these kinds of simulations to help evaluate new ideas for optimization.

conveyor simulation

We understand your factory, learn its unique needs, and know what it needs for the future. But whether we’re exploring a new system designed from scratch or testing out proposed modifications to an existing system, the right conveyor control makes it all click. That’s what really makes you engineered for evolution.

Evolving Our Operations to Help the Nation Combat COVID-19


All of a sudden, so much was on the line – the health of our community, the livelihood of our employees, and the future of this great nation. The governor’s orders for all non-essential businesses to shut down, meant that all 150 of our employees had to return home, with the uncertain future of not knowing when they were going to return to work.

“I was thinking what can we do to preserve jobs, but more importantly, help with the COVID-19 crisis?”

– Bob McMurtry, President, Richards-Wilcox.

To bring relief and comfort to many, as well as provide the work needed to keep the Richards-Wilcox family contributing during this time of crisis, we knew we had to be agile, innovative, and ready to adapt at a moment’s notice. After all, this wasn’t the first crisis that Richards-Wilcox brought its resources forward for the good of the Nation. During WWII, we pivoted the factory resources for the war effort. And this was no different. It was time to step up, once again.

Keeping pace with a radically changing world, we evolved our operations and transformed our 365,000 square foot factory into an Emergency Bed critical response manufacturer.

quik bed blog

Within 72 hours of Governor J. B. Pritzker’s Executive Order requiring the entire State of Illinois to “Shelter in Place,” and within 24 hours of New York’s announcement to turn the Javits Convention Center into a 1,000-bed hospital, the Richards-Wilcox teams began working tirelessly to engineer strong, durable and easy-to-assemble emergency beds – the Quik-Cot and Quik-Bed, for medical, overflow and quarantine facilities.

It seemed like the perfect opportunity to do our part in mitigating the crisis while helping our employees keep their jobs.

“I am proud that we’re weathering these difficult times together and are able to help our employees earn a livelihood, support their families, as well as contribute to the greater goal of keeping our nation safe.”

– Bob McMurtry, President, Richards-Wilcox.

quik bed blog 2

The Richards-Wilcox Quik-Cot and Quik-Bed are being shipped to healthcare facilities across the country, complete with a mattress from local business, Moonlight Slumber, Inc. In the coming weeks, we are hoping to significantly reduce the burden of hospitals facing a severe shortage of beds and improve patients’ access to treatment. If you or an organization you know is in need of emergency beds, please reach out to us immediately.

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Helping the Houston Food Bank Fight COVID-19.

The Richards-Wilcox Powered Overhead Zig-Zag Conveyor in the Houston Food Bank is moving over 750,000 lbs. of food per day to help thousands of American families affected by COVID-19. Here’s the full story.


COVID-19 is impacting our lives in unthinkable ways. While medical professionals are working tirelessly to control the pandemic’s direct impact on health, an army of frontline workers across sectors are taking unprecedented measures to mitigate the indirect socioeconomic impact of the pandemic on the community.

As people continue to lose their jobs, more and more Americans are becoming food insecure. Hunger Relief Organization, Feeding America, is now preparing to feed 17.1 million people, on top of the 37 million that they already serve. Not surprisingly, food banks are starved for resources and manpower needed to meet the growing demand.

As the largest Feeding America Food Bank in the country, our client Houston Food Bank is going above and beyond to ensure every American family is able to put food on their table in these difficult times.

A few years ago, Richards-Wilcox Conveyor had the opportunity to design a conveyor system for the Houston Food Bank. We knew that the Houston Food Bank couldn’t afford downtime. A lot of families depended on them. Our goal was to help automate their process with minimal human intervention and increased efficiency. A goal that seems all the more relevant and significant in the current times.

Randy Degood with Progressive Handling reached out to us to help design a conveyor system for the Houston Food Bank. After several ideas and input from all parties, we developed a system that allows them to prepare 750,000 lbs. of food per day.”

Matt Chorski, Systems Sales Manager, Richards-Wilcox Conveyor.


Today, we’re proud to see our conveyor hard at work in the Houston Food Bank – supporting President Brian Greene and his team on the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis.

The COVID-19 crisis also brings to light the importance of cleanliness and hygiene in protecting people from the pandemic. By reducing manual handling of food, our conveyors not only help the Houston Food Bank meet the strict safety and sanitary regulations, but also maximize productivity and process efficiency.

Designed to be durable and reliable — while providing flexibility and customization, our powered overhead Zig-Zag conveyor is helping the Houston Food Bank respond faster, stronger, and smarter to COVID-19. The Richards-Wilcox team is proud to work with clients like the Houston Food Bank, and engineer conveyor solutions that keep factories future-ready at all times.

Building a Brand That is Engineered for Evolution

100 years ago, Richards-Wilcox Conveyor gave the world something no one had seen before.

The overhead enclosed track conveyor. Several generations and two industrial revolutions later, we continue to lead our clients into the future by engineering the world’s most effective conveyor solutions.

conveyor gorilla

Evolution and innovation are at the heart of everything we do.

Inspired by British naturalist Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution: the species that are best able to adapt to changing environments are the ones most likely to survive in the long run – we got thinking about evolution in our industry.

conveyor horse

Today, we live in the world of Industry 4.0.

Manufacturing and distribution operations are getting faster, smarter, leaner, more advanced. To survive, you have to be highly efficient. You have to take advantage of the day’s most effective technology. And you have to be ready to adapt at a moment’s notice.

For centuries, our conveyors have carried the same qualities as some of the most evolved species that walk the surface of this earth.

conveyor leopard

Tested in the Wild for More Than 100 Years…

Our systems are designed to adapt.

Flexible, modular, and integrated with your technology and your evolving floorplan.

Our conveyors are built for the future.

When the world changes and the pace quickens, you will stay at the front of the pack.

Our solutions are engineered to evolve.

Constantly adapting to meet the challenges of the modern factory.

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Our new brand brings this vision to life in every word, pixel and piece of metal.

It stands tall in the form of larger-than-life beasts we built from the same steel structures that make our conveyors – serving as a daily reminder of our power and purpose.

As we celebrate our legacy and look boldly to our future, we encourage you to explore our new website to see how our company has evolved with every creative conveyor solution we engineer.