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.
Choosing 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
- 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!