Conveyor Project in Gastonia, NC
Industry: Over-the-Road Truck Manufacturer in Gastonia, North Carolina
Challenge: Unsafe, ergonomically inferior gravity conveyor process.
Solution: Replace with custom, heavy-duty powered roller conveyor system.
Equipment: Hytrol Model 25CRE24EZ Powered Heavy-Duty Roller Conveyor with AEC Controls
Challenge: Outdated, Unsafe Conveyor Process
Understanding the “Gravity” of the situation.
Our truck manufacturing client in Gastonia, North Carolina was finally fed up with their outdated conveyor line. It was slowing down their pick operations with no way to improve the system.
Parts to build a major frame sub-assembly are picked to complete a specific order. The parts are picked from pick-to-light rack into a cart transported with automated guided vehicles (AGV). The AGV delivers the cart to a gravity roller conveyor line.
The issue? Carts were getting stuck on the conveyor, requiring workers to physically unstick and push them along. The extra time slowed down operations and also posed a threat of pinched and crushed limbs.
Realizing that it was time to call in the experts, our client reached out to AEC Conveyor Specialist Charlie Williamson.
Solution: Custom Designed, Heavy-Duty Powered Roller System
The new system had to be custom designed to integrate with the requirements of their existing AGV cart system.
This job was not going to be as easy as simply installing a new conveyor.
“The existing automated cart system was custom built for the height of the old gravity conveyor,” says Williamson. “And so we had to design the new conveyor system to interface at that exact same height.”
“That required height, only 5.75 in. top of roller, was a far cry from the usual 8 to 9 in. range. Nobody else was able to do that,” says Williamson. “But we could.”
Cost and energy efficient Hytrol Model 25CRE24EZ Powered Roller Conveyor.
Using a trusted model of Hytrol conveyor, Williamson was able to design a system that could be installed without any support so the conveyor unit would sit even lower.
The end result was a conveyor that interfaced perfectly with the existing automated vehicle system without any special adjustments—a HUGE time and cost savings.
But Williamson didn’t stop there.
Rather than a standard 480-volt system, he managed to set the conveyor motors and photo eyes to work off of just 24 volts of DC power. For a system built for loads up to 1,500 pounds!
How did he pull it off? Lots of experience, and lots of planning ahead.
“During the design process, I showed up four different times to answer questions and to make sure everything was ready and in place,” says Williamson.
“We also did a lot of pre-wiring, which helped speed things up significantly. All you have to do is get it in place and hook it all up. Plug the cables in, and it’s ready to go.”
Result: 200% Productivity Increase
Increase in safety plus a 200% increase in productivity for the win.
Productivity rose by 200% while removing the threat of injury due to manually moving and positioning the crates. By designing a conveyor that would flawlessly integrate into the existing AGV system, Williamson saved our client money while making huge improvements in safety.
By using 24-volt motors and photo eyes, Williamson again saved the client time and money. No electricians or programmers working for days, no risk of electric shock.
The “plug and play” system was installed over the course of a single weekend, and is low-enough voltage to be considered “touch safe”.
“You’re protecting people from external problems as well as protecting them from themselves by making it as safe as possible,” says Williamson. “And getting it down to the 24-volt DC was a big step towards doing that.”
Our client was pretty happy about the outcome too!
“AEC was highly responsive and took care of us through the entire project. The system was installed and operating during our only available downtime over the weekend,” says the manufacturing floor manager. “It looks great, works even better, and we love the safety too.”