The rise of E-Commerce and the change in customer expectations regarding delivery time has put enormous pressure on material handling systems. Every link in the supply chain is feeling the need to do things faster and more accurately.
Modern, smart conveyor systems are crucial to accomplishing these goals. For decades, conveyor systems were considered mundane in comparison with, for example, packaging machines. Yet, how important is the spine for the functioning of the human organism? And so it is with conveyor systems – they are the backbone of factory and warehouse automation.
And modern conveyors have acquired “super-powers” relative to previous generations.
In the past, conveyors did not track individual products, nor did they detect material speeds. Using only belt speed for measurement assumed that any material will also be moving at that speed, even if the material was not actually present.
Smart conveyors can track individual items in real time – including their position, direction, and speed. All of this data is monitored by a Warehouse Execution System (WES) or Warehouse Management System (WMS) to provide a top-down overview. Such a purview enables continuous improvement by identifying bottlenecks and error conditions using real-time data.
Agility is a crucial factor in today’s rapidly changing market. Manufacturers and logistics providers need to be able to adapt to evolving conditions easily and quickly.
Modern conveyor systems use standardized wiring connectors and a modular design from the ground up to allow for easy and quick reconfiguration. Welding, soldering, and other time-consuming operations are no longer needed when conditions change and systems must be modified.
Going faster is not simply a question of increasing the speed of a conveyor belt. It’s also about integrating with other key components in factory and warehouse automation. In today’s modern facilities, conveyors synchronize with robotics, packaging machines, and sorting systems.
Optimizing Order Picking
Order picking is one of the most labor-intensive tasks in warehousing. Conveyor systems help to reduce labor by efficiently transporting containers to warehouse zones for picking. In a goods-to-person system, conveyors can connect to automated storage systems. Intelligent use of conveyors can revolutionize order picking operations.
Depending on the application, conveyors can accomplish tasks that might otherwise require a separate machine. For example, by putting objects through a right-angle turn, a conveyor system can rotate an object. If needed, a conveyor can flip an object upside down by precisely tumbling it over an appropriate vertical distance.
Spiral conveyors and continuous elevators can lift objects to a higher level in tight spaces. Objects can be sent onto different routes depending on their sizes – very useful for packaging lines. Vibrating conveyors can reorient objects.
The greater positioning accuracy of modern conveyors can make them an integral part of a manufacturing process – supplying the x-axis of movement in collaboration with a label application or product assembly process, for example.
Gone are the days when simple proximity sensors were sufficient. With conventional conveyor systems, materials could only be sensed at specific points in their movement.
Smart sensors and computer vision can monitor movement continuously and can align the material with other objects. Barcodes and RFID tags provide additional layers of product tracking.
Modern, smart conveyor systems are the foundation of the intralogistics supply chain. Factory and warehouse automation systems rely on conveyor systems in combination with robotics and artificial intelligence to deliver greater throughput and accuracy.
Advanced Equipment Company has a wide range of specialized equipment to fit your needs. Our conveyor specialists will work alongside your team to create efficient and productive custom conveyor solutions.