Adding Intelligence to Combat Product Flow Issues

“We added intelligence to the conveyor line to combat the issue of massive rolls moving as soon as one is picked.”

Material Handling Specialist: Scott Hartman

Halyard Health (formerly Kimberly-Clark Health Care) is a medical technology manufacturer headquartered in Alpharetta, Georgia, with 11 manufacturing facilities worldwide. The company’s Lexington, North Carolina, facility manufactures hospital fabric products. The conveyors in the facility handle massive parent rolls but were having major maintenance issues that were severely hindering the facility’s efficiency.

“The facility was using very dated Hytrol conveyor that had basically worn itself out,” says AEC’s Systems Engineer, Scott Hartman. “The system was over 20 years old and still using clutches and sensing rollers, which were very maintenance-intensive.” 

“This conveyor line was vital to their operation, it was the main line going from manufacturing to the warehouse.”

In addition to the maintenance issues presented by the aging system and the out-of-date technology, the rollers were actually being damaged by the forklift attachments that were used to pick up the parent rolls from the conveyor.  “There were times when the forklift operators would pick rolls from the side of the conveyor, rather than the end,” says Hartman. “And once they’d pick up a roll, the next roll would begin to proceed forward.”

“This put operators in a situation where they had to get in there fast to pick the next roll and as a result damage was being done to the existing conveyor. People were often times coming in way too fast to try to grab the next roll.”

Faced with an aging and damaged line that was the lifeblood of the facility, Halyard called Hartman in for suggestions to replace the conveyor.  Hartman suggested installing Hytrol 25CREZD Zero Pressure automated accumulation conveyor.

Some advantages of the Hytrol 25CREZD Zero Pressure automated accumulation conveyor system included:

  • No PLC required for automatic accumulation
  • Photoeyes replaced pneumatic solenoids and friction brakes
  • Each zone has its own Easy Drive Shaft Mounted Motor/Gearbox package; the motor/gearbox packages are easy to replace as opposed to the old underside drive systems
  • Very little electrical installation required
  • Zones only run when needed
  • Any zone can be configured for loading or unloading

“We added intelligence to the line to combat the issue of the rolls moving as soon as one is picked,” Hartman notes.

“We still allowed them to pick from the side, but the EZ Logic is programmable to allow operators to pick from the side and the next roll will not advance until after a set period of time. Regardless of whether you pick from the side or the end, the functionality remains the same. That next zone will basically hold the roll for a period of time – set to 30 seconds. So operators can pick up the roll and drive away and the next roll will come down in 30 seconds. That functionality was not there before and it has relieved a lot of the problems they were having.”

And while all of this updated functionality and decreased maintenance was a major boon to Halyard’s operation, the one factor that was equally important was that they not lose a lot of time on their major conveyor line during installation.

“It was very easy to pull out the old conveyor and put the new one in,” Hartman says. “It was very simple. We went in there and two days had the whole thing torn out and the new line in and up and running.”

With only two days of downtime, Halyard was able to bring their entire operation up to speed. The new system, which spans 53 zones, is much more reliable and will require substantially less maintenance.  Says Hartman, “The upgraded accumulation system has run flawlessly since its turnover.”

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Accumulation Conveyor Upgrade for Halyard in Lexington NC