Removing Unnecessary Complexity to Create a Superior Pallet Transportation System
Material Handling Specialist: Scott Hartman
Technimark, a turnkey injection molding packaging and components manufacturer, was having issues conveying finished product from their Asheboro, North Carolina, manufacturing facility to its warehouse.
The manufacturer had a 335’ tunnel between the two buildings with a conveyor that was responsible for transporting all of the material to the warehouse. “The existing tunnel conveyor system was very maintenance intensive,” says AEC’s Material Handling Specialist Scott Hartman.
“Basically, the conveyor was wearing itself out by running constantly. And this is a high-volume plant. So when this conveyor has maintenance problems, it’s a major issue for the company. They can’t get the product from manufacturing to the warehouse. The only option other than the conveyor is by truck.”
Technimark had ramped up their production level but was experiencing maintenance issues with their pallet conveyor. Those two factors led to the decision of a second tunnel with conveyor line from the manufacturing plant to the warehouse. The company brought in Scott Hartman to discuss how the second tunnel could work logistically while improving on the problems presented with the original system.
“It turns out, in the original tunnel, the system had been created from used equipment,” says Hartman. “Even though it was functional, the conveyor was using clutches and sensing rollers based on very outdated technology. This greatly contributed to the maintenance issues they were experiencing.”
Hartman proposed using Hytrol 25CREZD conveyor with EZLogic Zones Accumulation. This solution would not only be able to stand up to the vigorous workload, but was also way less complex than the original system.
Some of the advantages of the Hytrol system included:
- a PLC was not required for automatic accumulation
- the less expensive photoeyes replace 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
One challenge presented by the configuration of the new tunnel was a 3 degree decline that the conveyor would have to convey pallets down. “That’s pretty unique in the pallet handling market,” Hartman says. All Conveyors typically need some type of braking system to go up or down hill to keep loads from coasting while stopped.”
“We worked with Hytrol to use double gear reduction so that loads would not coast while stopped in an accumulation zone. It’s not a true brake but it’s an alternative solution to keep the loads from drifting into the next zone.”
A slight turn about two-thirds down the tunnel presented another challenge.
“In the other Tunnel, there is a maintenance intensive pivot cart that has to be run by a PLC,” Hartman says. “On the new application, we did that turn with a few gravity tapered rollers. That worked out very nicely. It eliminated complexity that they have in the existing line. It’s gravity and it’s very simple and it works.”
The new system spanned about 335’ of conveyor which equals (67) 5’ zones of accumulation. AEC worked with Hytrol to deliver the products and because the new system was way less complex than the existing system, the customer was able to install the system themselves in less than one week. “This job was sold because of the reduction in complexity compared to what they use to have – it was kind of a no-brainer for them,” says Hartman.