Having an adequate gap gives packages room to turn during merging and combining. The gaps also allow time to print and apply labels, for camera systems to read barcodes, to weigh packages, or to create proper spacing for the sorter to operate.
A gapper creates the gap between the cartons by running at a different speed than the conveyor adjacent to it. The gaps can be generated by two methods: blow through or gap optimization.
Blow through. Blow through gapping is ideal for systems that handle products with similar sizes. The gapper belts run at fixed speeds; therefore, they create product gaps that are based on product length and the speed change between the belts. This is the simplest, easiest, and most economical gapping method because the conveyor speed is constant. Using this system while conveying products with varied sizes will lower the throughput.
Gap optimization. This type of gapper provides the maximum throughput and performance. It works best with packages of various sizes. Sensors are placed along the conveyor to recognize packages and ensure that gap distances are consistent. If the sensor detects too much of a gap, the optimizer speeds up to close the gap. If too little gap is detected, the optimizer slows down, increasing the gap to the minimum amount. This effectively re-distributes the gaps between all boxes, or optimizes the gaps. This is a more expensive gapping option, but does have high returns.
Gappers are a necessity to a material handling system. Without them, sortation will not be as efficient as possible. Before you select your gapper you must understand the products you will be conveying and your budget. A Hytrol conveyor system application specialist can help you find the gapper that works best in your material handling system.