5 factors to consider when choosing cleanroom conveyor system

5 Factors to Consider When Choosing Your Cleanroom Conveyor System

Cleanroom production lies at the heart of numerous of the world’s leading industries. Many industries, including food production, pharmaceutical, medical, semiconductor, and solar power, require a clean industrial environment. Typically, the clean industrial environment encompasses the entirety of an assembly/manufacturing process, leaving only packing and shipping tasks in a non-cleanroom area. Alternatively, a manufacturer could opt to isolate only certain facets of the process as a cleanroom environment.

When analyzing a cleanroom conveyor, consider and evaluate its classification, initial and total cost of ownership, maintenance needs and technological changes, flexibility and energy consumption. In the content below, we discuss the five most important factors to consider when choosing your cleanroom conveyor system.

Cleanroom Classification

Evaluating the classification of a cleanroom conveyor system serves as the paramount consideration. Cleanroom class requirements in the United States derive from the number of allowable particles, 0.5 micrometers in diameter per cubic foot of air, ranging from class 100,000 to class 1 (the very cleanest class). This system is known as Federal Standard 209E. Cleanroom conveyors rate to a class corresponding with the appropriate cleanroom facility.

When purchasing or building a conveyor for any cleanroom process, make it a priority to implement a system with a cleanroom rating at least as strict as the environment for its intended application. For example, a conveyor with a cleanroom rating of 100,000 would be inappropriate for use in a class 1,000 cleanroom. Additionally, it may sometimes be wise to get a conveyor with a higher rating than is necessary, in the event of future upgrades in clean environment ratings.

Initial and Total Cost of Ownership

While deciding on your cleanroom system, staying within your initial budgeted costs prevents your business from acquiring excess debt. However, though initial cost of ownership serves as an important consideration when choosing your cleanroom conveyor system, examine also the total projected amount of expenses included in your conveyor investment. Allow your analysis to extend beyond the initial capital investment and installation costs by asking four questions:

  • How will energy costs affect long-term return on investment?
  • What are the preventative maintenance requirements?
  • How often will the belt need to be replaced – at what cost?
  • What is the expected lifespan of the equipment?

Answering these questions helps narrow down your options and ultimately select the best conveyor system choice for the long-term. As a result, search for a “standard” conveyor system that automatically meets or exceeds your cleanroom environment needs with little to no additional cost on the conveyor.

Maintenance Needs and Technological Changes

As you calculate and forecast any expected costs associated with eventual maintenance and repairs, consider also the types of maintenance and repairs your desired cleanroom conveyor system could require. With each component requiring maintenance, does the expense and level of the repair justify the reasoning to purchase your desired conveyor system?

Maintenance Needs

To best forecast the necessary maintenance tasks associated with your desired cleanroom conveyor system, answer the following questions:

  • How often does the system require scheduled maintenance and repairs?
  • How easily can inspection and repairs be completed?
  • What components or tools are required to successfully maintain and keep the conveyor clean?

Consider each conveyor component, such as the high-performance chain, belt and track. Are each of the components’ replacement parts easily accessible? Keep in mind – replacement parts with lower availability could result in paused or delayed production for your business.

Technological Changes

In the event you later wish to upgrade either the clean environment or other technological aspect to reduce overall costs, assess if the conveyor system you choose is capable of modification. Additionally, it may be advisable to select a conveyor with a higher cleanliness class, such as reconfigurable modular conveyors with a Class 1 rating, to avoid later upgrades and alterations.

With any conveyor operation, especially cleanroom conveyor operations, noise can quickly become an issue. Although the maximum permissible exposure limit for noise set by OSHA is 90 dBA, a range of 50 to 60 dBA is considered most suitable. Unfortunately, noise is inevitable when taking into account all the working and moving parts that most conveyor processes involve. As a result, evaluate the generated range of noise from your desired cleanroom conveyor system, and assess if the application creates a suitable workplace environment for your staff.

Flexibility

Do the production needs of your industry suddenly change? Do you commonly encounter sudden innovation? If so, a conveyor with flexibility – such as the ability to be reconfigured like Lego building blocks – helps manufacturers meet the demands of new developments and manufacturing changes. Therefore, ask yourself the following question: How flexible is the conveyor system in length, configuration and the addition of accessories?

Reconfigurable cleanroom conveyors offer the flexibility and capability to withstand multiple rearrangements to continually meet revised production needs. Additionally, modular conveyors allow for easy adaptation of cleanroom accessories and components such as HEPA filters, tunnel enclosures, ionizers, and hermetically sealed entry/exit gates. Furthermore, adaptable cleanroom conveyor systems allow certain stages to effortlessly conform to sudden isolation or integration in accordance with updated requirements or cleanliness standards.

Energy Consumption

In terms of energy consumption, regardless of conveyor requirements, most manufacturers use the same, large, horsepower motor on all conveyor models. Based on each cleanroom conveyor application, reconfigurable modular conveyor systems utilize energy-efficient motors ranging from 1/30 HP to 1 HP. However, lowering the kilowatts used not only saves your operation money but also reduces total carbon emissions. Therefore, assess the size of your overall cleanroom conveyor system to determine the amount of energy consumption necessary for a successful operation.

Find Reliable, High-Quality Conveyor Solutions with Richards-Wilcox Conveyor

Installing a conveyor in a cleanroom can improve productivity radically, but not all models are suitable. From design simulation to customizing conveyors for your specific needs, we can help you through any step of the process. At Richards-Wilcox Conveyor, our designs are engineered for innovation – radically changing with an evolving world. With numerous applications and capabilities, we find and manufacture ideal solutions for your conveyor system needs. If you have any further inquiries or would like to request a quote, contact us today!

Top 6 Considerations When Selecting the Right Conveyor Design

Top 6 Considerations When Selecting the Right Conveyor Design

Are you beginning the process of constructing or expanding the conveyor system in your warehouse? Deciding which conveyor system and layout works best for your business can feel inundating if you don’t consider both your operation and limitations. There are several key factors to think about and prepare for, as it’s easier to change your design on paper than after breaking ground. Below, we discuss the top six considerations to keep in mind when designing and selecting the right conveyor design.

Reflect on Your Conveyor History

Before exploring your conveyor options, take a moment to reflect on past conveyor experiences. Have you built and used a conveyor in your warehouse before? If so, assess the success or lack thereof with the model or design used. Once you define what elements need improvement and discover how to remedy the issues, be sure to add revised components into your new conveyor design. Doing so will help ensure the success and productivity of your conveyor design, reducing the amount of time spent in repair and stunted production.

Consider Your Conveyor Operation 

Every manufacturer’s warehouse customizes their use of conveyors to further the specific components of their production process. When mapping the design for your new conveyor system, specify what you need the conveyors, various components and entire system to do. Consider your product type. If your warehouse manufactures for the pharmaceutical industry, your conveyor needs drastically differ from the auto industry.

Specifying the operation of a conveyor consists of:

  • Defining how many materials need moving and the window of time in which it must be completed.
  • Knowing the demand at each drop point. In some cases, there may be multiple discharge points.
  • Determining which conditions initiate or stop a refill. In multiple discharges, develop a suitable sequence of operations to establish refill priority so the process does not delay or halt.
  • Deciding if cross-contamination could be an issue. This is especially imperative when considering a single conveyor for multiple materials.

Select a Conveyor According to Your Materials

If you are new to conveyor design, it’s good to familiarize yourself with the different materials you use in manufacturing your product. Though many go by more than one name, you can categorize your materials by any of these methods:

  • An esoteric or trade name (example- SnoMelt)
  • A generic name (example- salt)
  • A chemical formula defined by its primary ingredients (example- sodium chloride, NaCl)

With your given materials, there are a few additional questions to answer that will help select the right conveyor design for your warehouse.

What is the form or state in which the material must be handled?

Determine if the solids are in a free-flowing or semi free-flowing state, note the loose bulk density. Loose bulk density is the weight per given volume of the material in its reduced state. However, don’t confuse or interchange the term loose bulk density with specific gravity – both are very different. Specific gravity is the weight per given volume of a substance in its most natural, concentrated, unreduced solid form.

What is the flowability of the material? 

Flowability is one of the most important characteristics to understand about any solid material. However, it lacks a universal, standardized method of measurement across industrial disciplines. Most often, it is defined as very free flowing, free flowing, average flowability, or sluggish. If you suspect that your material is challenging due to its flowability, it’s best to send a sample to the equipment supplier for review.

What is the composition of the solids? 

Note if they are powder, prill, granule, pellet, fiber, or flake.

What is the particle size? 

Usually, symmetrical solids are described in terms of their ability to pass through the screen of a certain size. Additionally, asymmetrical solids are sized by their minimum and maximum geometric dimensions.

Look at Your Environment 

You need to consider several environmental factors when selecting the right conveyor and equipment design.

Some environmental factors include:

  • Open sources of ignition
  • The potential for a flammable or explosive atmosphere
  • Corrosive vapor
  • High humidity
  • Temperature
  • Vibration
  • Pressure or vacuum (at inlet, discharge or both)

Assess Your Warehouse Footprint 

What are the warehouse space constraints for the new equipment? Evaluate your product dimensions and weight.

When designing and selecting the right conveyor equipment, consider the following:

  • What feeds the new equipment and its discharge elevation of the upstream equipment.
  • What the new equipment discharges into and the inlet elevation of the downstream equipment.
  • The centerline distance between the proposed inlet and discharge.
  • If the proposed route runs as a straight line or if it must turn a corner or change elevation more than once to avoid an existing structure.
  • Width and depth available to accommodate the conveyor equipment.
  • The warehouse ceiling height.
  • Any other layout considerations, temporary or permanent.

Calculate Your Budgeted Conveyor Costs 

We understand that there’s a financial limit as to what you can do. Overall cost certainly plays a role in the feasibility of every project. Therefore, take a moment to calculate total budgeted costs for your conveyor project. Is there a payback formula you need to follow?

Though cost impacts the decisions you make in conveyor component selections, it’s good to invest in quality products such as high performance chains for your operation. Some companies prioritize the long-term cost of ownership in their justification calculation – focusing more on reliability, reduced energy consumption and maintenance. However, other companies emphasize the initial investment. Once your budget is in place, discuss cost with potential suppliers as soon as possible to determine the financial feasibility.

Designing the Right Conveyor System with Richards-Wilcox Conveyor

From design simulation to customizing conveyors for your specific needs, we can help you through any step of the process. At Richards-Wilcox Conveyor, our designs are engineered for innovation – radically changing with an evolving world. With numerous applications and capabilities, we find and manufacture ideal solutions for your conveyor system needs. Explore our wide range of conveyor systems further by viewing our inventory. If you have any further inquiries or would like to request a quote, contact us today!

The Benefits of Investing in High-Performance Conveyor Chain for Your Operation

The Benefits of Investing in High-Performance Conveyor Chains for Your Operation

In any industry of mass production, efficiency and durability are of utmost importance. To those looking from the outside-in, the manufacturing space is more complex than many imagine. Harvard Business Review illustrates this well: “Most Americans believe factory work is mechanical, snapping together plastic parts or assembling electronic devices. No thinking required; just put in these four screws 2,400 times a day… Many of the jobs in the most advanced semiconductor-manufacturing plants are as complex as a lunar-landing mission… Producing biologics involves enough biochemistry, chemical engineering, and cell biology to make a graduate student wince.”

Manufacturers exploring efficiency from the inside-out understand that high-quality, reliable equipment – from conveyor systems to conveyor chain – is crucial. Purchasing high-quality, excellent systems is absolutely worth the investment. Below, we explore a few of the many benefits high-performance conveyor chains provide any operation.

High-Performance Conveyor Chain is Durable

As the name implies, a high-performance conveyor chain performs excellently in a variety of harsh, demanding environments, including those with long runs and sharp turns. A high-performance chain is built to function reliably every time for a long time. In The Competitive Edge: Research Priorities for U.S. Manufacturing, the importance of making substantial investments for reliable equipment is insightfully discussed:

Substantial capital investments, in the form of facilities and equipment, are required for manufacturing almost all goods of economic significance. The productivity of these investments is a fundamental element of competition among companies and nations. Events that slow or interrupt the manufacturing process or degrade the product impair the competitiveness of a manufacturing enterprise. The term equipment reliability and maintenance (ERM) encompasses not only equipment, such as machines, tools, and fixtures, but also the technical, operational, and management activities, ranging from equipment specifications to daily operation and maintenance, required to sustain the performance of manufacturing equipment throughout its useful life.

High-Performance Conveyor Chain is Versatile

A high-performance conveyor chain is suitable for use in multiple types of overhead conveyor applications, both heavy duty and lighter systems. A high-performance chain can be implemented in OveR-Way, patented Twin-Track, and lighter systems using Zig-Zag or Inverted Paintline. A high-performance conveyor chain is both versatile and consistent, enhancing each overhead application explored briefly below with reliability:

OveR-Way Heavy-Duty Over and Under Conveyor

This system is the ideal solution for paint finishing applications, WIP buffer & retrieval, assembly line systems, and long load handling. The OveR-Way Conveyor utilizes the same components as every Richards-Wilcox chain conveyor – trustworthy and reliable. OveR-Way conveyor systems are built to withstand the rigor of a variety of applications; utilizing a high-performance conveyor chain, these systems can also endure rigorous environments. OveR-Way systems boast impressive lifting capacity. Single Over-way carriers support loads up to 1,000 pounds, while Tandem carriers hoist up to 2,000 pounds. Using OveR-Way Heavy-Duty conveyor systems and a high-performance chain, equipment can do all the heavy lifting.

Twin-Trak Side-By-Side Conveyor

Strengthened with a high-performance conveyor chain, Twin-Trak systems bring unlimited power to limited spaces, designed for paint finishing systems, WIP buffer storage & retrieval, progressive assembly, extrusion material handling, and typical curing applications. Twin-Trak systems stand apart due to the ease of switching into and out of the main line of travel with greater frequency than other power and free conveyor designs.

Zig-Zag Enclosed Track Conveyor

The Zig-Zag system is the result of a century of innovation, an effective, efficient system. This conveyor utilizes standard components built for long life. The Zig-Zag conveyor is simple and modular, and easily installed in a wide variety of locations, including manufacturing floors, auto-body shops, receiving areas, etc. Thus, the list of potential applications is nearly endless. A few include paint finishing systems, WIP buffer systems, investment casting, progressive assembly, trash conveyors, tote handling, die cast rack storage, empty carton return, planting rack storage, silver can delivery, and robotic interface.

Richards-Wilcox Conveyor High-Performance Conveyor Chain

Richards-Wilcox Conveyor’s high-performance conveyor chain is designed with countless benefits in mind. A unique caged bearing design is one such customization that changes the nature of a conveyor chain. The bearing design results in longer chain life, smoother operation, quieter operation, less downtime, and greater reliability. When used with inverted track or specialty carriers, e-Chain is an excellent option. e-Chain can be utilized for clean applications, when sanitation is prioritized, such as merchandise distribution and fulfillment.

Furthermore, Richards-Wilcox Conveyor’s high-performance conveyor chain is made with high-quality components, resulting in lower replacement frequency. Reduced system drag increases system life. The chain is more ergonomic and easier on manufacturers and plant workers. The system demands less expensive maintenance and, ultimately, lower total system costs.

The system is built to improve efficiencies, lower overhead cost, and provide reliability for your operation. Below, we explore how Richards-Wilcox Conveyor’s equipment has impacted real companies.

Case Study

Premier Citrus Packers

Major international fruit producer, Premier Citrus Packers handle 2 million boxes of produce annually. Essentially, the market depends on them. The plant contacted Richards-Wilcox Conveyor with an old, outdated conveyor system that caused problems. Neither the Florida-based fruit plant nor the global market could afford the downtime caused by an inefficient conveyor operation. Grocery chains globally relied on Premier Citrus Packers distribution, packaged under a wide variety of private labels.

The Premier Citrus Packers line relies on both an overhead system and a belt conveyor. The overhead system supplies boxes to line workers, while the belt conveyor delivers fruit to packing stations. For the entire facility to operate, both conveyors must be properly working. When the Packers contacted Richards-Wilcox, both conveyors were worn-out – the system broke down constantly.

Utilizing Richards-Wilcox Conveyor systems, Premier Citrus Packers can depend on their equipment. The conveyor is built to last, stronger, more adaptable, and ready for the future. The international fruit producers now experience less downtime, higher productivity, and greater yield.

Richards-Wilcox Conveyor

Richards-Wilcox Conveyor builds conveyor systems engineered for evolution. Our systems are flexible, modular, and designed to keep pace with the radically changing world. We help industries keep on track for the future. If you are interested in upgrading your efficiency and durability, get in touch today at (888) 852-1020 or via our online contact form.

2 Advantages of a Trolley Conveyor System

2 Advantages of a Trolley Conveyor System

As the world changes, industries are forced to incorporate equipment designed for adaption and built for the future. Efficiency, quality, and quantity are simultaneously demanded by companies and consumers alike. In the face of extraordinary demand, selecting equipment strategically is crucial. Conveyor systems are a piece of equipment often found in the warehouse and manufacturing plants behind dozens of industries – and a specific variation can provide the efficiency required to meet and exceed demands.

Below, we explore two key advantages of utilizing a trolley conveyor system in a modern, efficient industrial setting.

What Are Trolley Conveyor Systems?

Trolley conveyor systems take many forms; however, overhead conveyor systems are most common. Simply put, overhead conveyor systems are a continuous chain or cable loop, suspended from a track. At times, carriers are attached to augment various processes. Overhead trolleys are often categorized into several different types, including manual systems, push systems, and power and free conveyors.

2 Advantages of Trolley Conveyor Systems

Overhead Trolley Conveyor Systems Use Space Efficiently

As their name implies, overhead trolley conveyor systems are installed out of the way, above ground-level operations. Efficient use of space is absolutely crucial for locations with limited space.

The Twin-Trak Side-by-Side Conveyor system provides unlimited power while using space efficiently. A small factory may have limited ground level and overhead space. The Side-by-Side system is built with a dual-track for optimal volume and efficiency. Freed space can be used for other equipment. The Twin-Trak also stores work-in-process projects overhead. When needed, each piece of a project can be called down in the exact quantity and order required. However, when in disuse, the projects are stored out of the way.

Overhead Trolley Conveyor Systems Are Flexible

Most overhead conveyor systems are designed with intense, complex environments in mind. Trolley systems transport huge and varied loads at high temperatures. Often, the equipment is developed for sensitive, highly contaminated applications. The Over-Way Heavy Duty Over and Under Conveyor system is built to withstand the rigor of a variety of applications.

As a general task, overhead trolley systems are often used in painting systems, transporting parts through the cleaning, coating, drying, and cooling processes. Overhead trolleys find their way into a variety of industrial settings as well, playing crucial roles in transporting products among manufacturing applications. For example, trolleys may provide new supplies of cases or cartons. A trolley system may be utilized for carrying thousands of pounds of equipment. The Over-Way transports loads up to 1,000 pounds.

What makes overhead trolley conveyor systems different from a conveyor belt system? Quite simply, flexibility. Trolley systems can transport unique products, odd-shaped parts, and other items difficult to transport on a traditional belt system.

Richards-Wilcox Conveyor

At Richards-Wilcox Conveyor, we are accustomed to the demand for innovation – meeting and succeeding expectations. This is why we provide conveyor solutions designed to keep pace with a radically changing world. Each system we produce is modular, flexible, and adaptable.

To learn more about our conveyor solutions, contact us today at (888) 852-1020 or via our online contact form.

what makes our conveyor system design process unique

What Makes Our Conveyor Systems Design Process Unique?

 

Our conveyor systems design process is unique, because we design with you in mind. We proactively evaluate the needs of our clients and build systems to fulfil those needs. At Richards-Wilcox Conveyor, our goal is to bring unparalleled flexibility, reliability, and customization to every project. We begin with you, your needs, your specific application – and go from there.

From spray-finishing to large-scale robotic systems, our expert team will engineer a custom system for your operation. In the content below, we will explore a wide variety of Monorail and Power & Free conveyor systems, from unique design to practical applications.

Monorail Conveyor Systems Design

We build Monorail Systems with simplicity and cost-effectivity in mind. Standard (Monorail) Systems follow one path, meaning they work best with straightforward processes, powered manually or by a continuous chain.

A few Richards-Wilcox Monorail Conveyor Systems include:

Safe-Rail

The Safe-Rail Monorail Enclosed Track Conveyor is designed to be efficient and expandable, engineered to evolve with your factory. The Safe-Rail can be upgraded easily into a more sophisticated conveyor system, either Monorail or Power & Free. Extreme productivity and efficiency can be achieved almost instantaneously with minimal conversion time.

The Safe-Rail is best for the following applications:

  • Batch paint systems
  • Tire retread systems
  • Tool support systems
  • Synthetic fiber handling
  • Light-duty bridge cranes
  • Manual transport and assembly

Zig-Zag

After nearly a century of innovation, the Zig-Zag Monorail Enclosed Track Conveyor was designed, a refined piece of equipment. The Zig-Zag’s functions solve a multitude of manufacturing problems, from simple to complex retrieval systems.

The Zig-Zag system features:

  • 75 lbs./load capacity
  • Standard drive packages – up to 750 lb. chain pull
  • Vertical wheels on 6” centers

Inverted Zig-Zag

The Inverted Zig-Zag Conveyor was designed for clean operation. It is primarily used in such product environments. Using Richards-Wilcox Inverted Pendants, the design offers unique vertical flexibility.

The Inverted Zig-Zag is ideal for the following applications:

  • Electronics manufacturing
  • Pin systems
  • Pan conveyor assembly
  • Kitting assembly
  • Tote conveyors
  • Package handling

Power & Free Conveyor Systems Design

Power & Free Systems offer extreme flexibility for a variety of parts and processes. Using pusher dogs to engage and disengage connections, these conveyor systems can perform at many speeds, stop and start easily, divert to multiple locations, and offer part-tracking options.

Twin-Trak

The Twin Trak Side-by-Side Conveyor system brings extraordinary power to a limited space. The Richards-Wilcox engineering team had saved space in mind, a solution for factories with limited overhead space.

Over-Way Over-and-Under

Over-Way Conveyors are built to provide durable, high-capacity solutions for companies, enhancing efficiency without sacrificing quality. Utilizing this equipment can increase production rates and minimize lead times.

The Over-Way is an excellent solution for the following applications:

  • Paint finishing
  • WIP buffer & retrieval
  • Assembly line
  • Long load handling

Over-Way Inverted

Over-Way Inverted Floor-Mounted Conveyor systems bring power and capability together with the ergonomic benefits of floor-mounted designs. This system is perfect for situations when cleanliness and/or robotic interfaces are crucial to production.

The Over-Way Inverted system is ideal for these applications:

  • Paint finishing
  • Robotic welding
  • Robotic assembly
  • Machine-to-machine transfers
  • General assembly

Richards-Wilcox Conveyor

At Richards-Wilcox Conveyor, our designs are engineered for innovation – radically changing with an evolving world. With numerous applications and capabilities, our solutions may be the ideal choice for your system. To explore our wide range of conveyor systems further, view our inventory. To get in touch with inquiries, contact us today!