Above: Total Cost of Ownership means that a greater initial investment may save you money over time in maintenance and operational costs.
When you invest in a material handling solution, you’re investing in the future of your business. That makes it important to consider all of the options available to you to get the most use and greatest value for your solution. Your long-term goals should be a driving force for your decisions, as should the total cost of your solution over time.
Long-term goals to consider
When you’ve determined the solution you need for today, that same solution may not be ideal for your changing business needs. To save yourself the extra time, effort, and money of building a new system 5 or 10 years down the line, make sure you’ve asked yourself these questions:
Will my product line change? It’s common for a product line to expand. What is even more common is for a product’s packaging to be changed. In particular, we see this kind of repackaging driven by marketing efforts that is caught too late; the packages won’t convey and then you have a serious, expensive problem.
Will my business grow? If your business expands and you need more throughput or additional conveyor, keep that in mind to make the next step as painless as possible.
What is the total cost of ownership? Like any investment, conveyors have initial costs, operational costs, and maintenance costs. Higher initial costs may be compensated for by lower costs in energy and maintenance over time. When you plan for these long-term costs, you can decrease the total cost of ownership.
How to design for business flexibility
Consider a variable speed conveyor
A variable speed conveyor lets you ramp up the speed during peak seasons. Even better, it will run at lower speeds during non-peak periods, which saves on energy and component wear. If your business has large discrepancies in needed throughput for the year, or if you may need a change in throughput in the future, you will want to look into a variable speed conveyor.
Use decentralized drives when possible
Decentralized drives are installed in modular sections, making them easier to expand for a growing business. They also eliminate excessive downtime during required maintenance since one module can be dropped in for a non-working module. These drives can be installed with pallet handling conveyors and 24-volt conveyors—the 24-volt conveyors have an added bonus of being basically maintenance-free.
How to save on energy, maintenance, and storage costs
When balancing your short-term costs with your long-term goals, make sure you’ve taken these tips for total cost of operation into consideration. Any extra time and money they may take to put into place can be made up down the line in your operational costs.Use similar conveyor widths and common components
Using common components keeps your replacement costs to a minimum and also helps you reduce inventory. You’ll save on space with extra storage, and it will be easier to order any replacement parts you might need.When possible, go low-maintenance and high efficiency
Choosing efficient products is a good way to save money down the line. A low-maintenance chain can save you time and maintenance costs to keep your system running. More efficient gear boxes have both a longer life expectancy and may reduce needed horsepower. Most motors now are either energy efficient or premium efficiency motors—the premium efficiency can gain you as much as 3 percent in efficiency, and it has a longer expected life.
To get a solid return on your investment, step back and think twice—choose a solution that both helps your business into the future and successfully adapts to it.
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About the author: Boyce Bonham is the Director of Integrator Services at Hytrol, where he has nearly 30 years of service. You may email Boyce at firstname.lastname@example.org.