Accumulation is becoming increasingly popular in automated solutions. This is primarily because of the numerous applications and benefits it creates in your operation. Zero-pressure accumulation conveyor works by using photoelectric intelligence to allow products to accumulate with—you guessed it—no pressure involved. Packages either rest gently against each other or have a small buffering space in between.
When planning an automated solution, accumulation can be critical to a smooth operation. The applications of this type of solution are vast, but they can also take time to understand—so why should you give accumulation a chance?
To maximize product throughput
Not all of your production or warehouse processes take the same amount of time. In a non-accumulation system, when your downstream processes are taking longer than your upstream processes, automation equipment has to stop and wait. But, accumulation conveyors buffer and hold your product in place until downstream production equipment is ready, allowing your upstream processes to continue operating. When upstream processes get to continue to run, you don’t have downstream equipment sitting idly. This means increased production and lower labor costs.
To prevent product damage
When product begins to stack up on traditional conveyor, the buildup of pressure can be damaging to fragile or lighter cartons. When tapered wall totes back up on other conveyor, they may buckle up and spill out over the guardrails, dumping contents onto the floor and causing both product damage and a unsafe work environment. Accumulation conveyor allows products to rest against each other with either minimum or zero pressure. That equates to less product damage and waste.
To prevent equipment damage
Cartons or totes that back up on conveyors that are not zero-pressure can often create so much back pressure that in addition to damaging the carton or tote, it can also damage conveyor guardrails, belts, motors, reducers and motor starters. Zero-pressure conveyors not only eliminate that danger—they also utilize a “sleep” feature that allows the conveyor to shut down after a period of time of not sensing a product. This results in decreased roller wear, decreased electricity use, and decreased equipment wear.
To maintain product sequencing
When conveying multiple sizes of cartons on the same conveyor, the smaller cartons may be pushed side-by-side. This causes your product to get out of sequence; that creates misreads at the scanner, missed diverts at the sorter and the potential for jamming in the curves. Zero-pressure conveyor eliminates side by side accumulation of smaller cartons and its associated issues.
To increases operator productivity and safety
When proper accumulation isn’t put in place, your operators have to regulate the processes themselves. To manually remove product, only to have to put it back into the production line later, takes operators away from their main job and decreases productivity. In short, it adds double and triple handling of the product, resulting in waste to the process and possibly creating more dangerous situations for your employees. In addition, many new styles of zero pressure conveyor are much safer to work around than none zero pressure conveyors.
For merge control
With “intelligence” put in place with the photo-eyes, zero-pressure conveyors can be easily adapted for merge control. This kind of control operates much like cars at intersections with traffic lights, making sure no sideswipes or collisions take place.
There are numerous ways to apply zero-pressure conveyor, and even more benefits to the user. Keeping your products, equipment, and employees safe is just the beginning of this popular solution.
About the author:
Ivar Lonon is a material handling professional at Advanced Equipment Company. He is responsible for system sales and turnkey integration of material handling systems with over 30 years of experience in systems engineering, project management and systems integration.