Industry: Food & Beverage manufacturer in Columbia, South Carolina
Challenge: Transferring filled corrugate cardboard cases fresh out of a heat shrink tunnel on a wide conveyor to a new, narrower conveyor without using a physical bump or catching the warm heat shrink on cartons
Solution: Case turner conveyor: a custom designed, two-strand conveyor moving at different speeds to provide a consistent 90-degree rotation making a touch-free, smooth transition to a narrower conveyor
Product: CarryLine two-strand plastic chain conveyor, custom designed
Custom Conveyor Solution for Precision Case Turning
Columbia, South Carolina, like in many places around the US, is home to a diverse group of manufactures producing a wide range of goods across many industries.
While the industrial leaders here have a lot of moving parts to focus on from transportation and staffing to education and distribution, when you get an AEC representative involved in a project – like Brian Hester, Material Handling Specialist for over 20 years – just two things are constantly dominating their thoughts: Point A and Point B.
Often this can be a simple thing like devising a solution for a beer and wine distributor to use gravity conveyors to feed a truck or assessing the potential to double warehouse space with a mezzanine. These can be straight forward challenges for someone with an engineering background like Hester.
Recently, however, Hester was tasked with something trickier.
90-Degree, Touch-Free Case Turner
A Food & Beverage manufacturing client in Columbia, South Carolina, had a hang up in their product’s conveyor journey that read like a real-life riddle:
Corrugated cardboard cases filled with product leave the heat shrink tunnel still warm, travelling length-wise down a wide conveyor belt. Along the way, they need to transfer to a narrow belt system requiring a 90-degree turn without using a physical bump turn or mechanical device that could damage the boxes or catch on the warm heat shrink.
“Finding elegant solutions is something I really love about my job,” said Hester. “It didn’t take long to realize how simple this one could be.”
Using a custom-built, two-strand plastic chain conveyor by CarryLine, Hester solved this riddle. Set to variable speeds, the two strands moved slightly differently causing the boxes to consistently rotate 90 degrees with precision (see video).
Due to strict hygiene and cleanliness requirements imposed by the Food & Beverage industry, the conveyor itself was all stainless-steel construction. A filler plate was included between the strands to prevent the heat shrink from catching on the edges of the chain as well as low profile UHMW guard rails.
“Smooth and consistent product rotation without mechanically touching the cases and tearing the heat shrink lead to no product damage or marking,” said Hester. “I was pretty pleased and so was the client.”
Brian Hester is a Material Handling Specialist at Advanced Equipment Company providing integrated material handling and storage solutions for over 20 years. Brian’s career started as an Electrical Engineer with an Automated Guided Vehicle company for 13 years before leaving the company and moving into a unique sales role at AEC.
Now Brian’s mission is to use his engineering background and extensive knowledge base of a wide variety of products to produce custom solutions that solve customer’s needs.