It seems like every trade show that we do someone asks us about elevating solutions. There are so many great ways of incline/declining products out there that it can be a little confusing, not to mention overwhelming, to try and figure out what the best solution is when you don’t live and breathe material handling day in and day out. We in the conveyor industry tend to embrace our jargon with a passion which only makes things worse. It can be awfully confusing to try and translate what exactly someone means when they say “Alpine” or “Blanket Conveyor.”
So, without further ado and with a little insight into their names, here are seven elevating options from Flex-Line Automation!
- Incline/decline conveyors are the most basic elevation changing option. They usually use friction chain, friction belt, cleated chain, cleated belt, roller cleats, or small elevation changes over a long run in order to get a product moving up or down in a controlled manner. They are great when you have a lot of room or don’t need drastic height changes. The roller cleat style can even feed product in between the cleats with no additional automation!
- Alpine conveyors are what immediately springs to my mind when I think of FlexLink conveyor choices. (I’m not even going to pretend that they aren’t my personal favorite. We strapped a camera to a pallet moving through one of these once. It was awesome. You can check it out on our downloads page, under Flex-Line Video.) They are named after their shape, which is reminiscent of a switchback trail up and down a mountain slope. They are especially fantastic for accumulation applications where you have a limited amount of floor space available. They are a great way to utilize your vertical space.
- Spiral conveyors are another great choice for elevation changes. Again, the name says it all. These conveyors spiral product up or down with a small footprint. You don’t get as much accumulation as you can with an Alpine, but a thirty foot tall spiral can carry a bunch of boxes up to a mezzanine quickly and efficiently!
- Wedge conveyors, also known as side grip conveyors, are another classic choice. While they don’t provide much by way of accumulation, their ability to pick up individual products from a horizontal belt and transfer them vertically at angles up to 90 degrees is incredibly useful, and a great space saver. You can even run them at different speeds than your main line as a built in singulation station. They are also wonderful for vision check and base coding applications.
- Blanket conveyors are actually a dual conveyor system. The lower incline belt usually is plain chain, and the top belt usually has friction links or cleats, which lay down over products as they move up the incline, blanketing the product and holding it securely in place as it moves through its elevation change. This is a great option for moving products – especially bagged goods. This style of conveyor was showcased at Pack Expo in 2014 with what everyone affectionately called the “Drawbridge” conveyor. That particular blanket conveyor uses a section of chain beam to add more weight to the chain and with helps to singulate product. Another option under the Blanket umbrella is actually to sandwich products between two running conveyors. It is a great way to move heavier items.
- Hold down rails are often used with incline conveyors in order to provide a little bit of down pressure on products to keep them in line as they move. Hold downs can be fixed, adjustable, or even made of rollers depending on your exact needs. The use of a hold down rail and cleated chain is a very economical way of elevating within a small footprint.
- Elevators work when none of the other options are a good fit. They can be electric or pneumatic and provide rapid ascent and descent in very tight quarters. They are especially useful with moving pallets, trays, or larger, unwieldy products.
Well, I hope that this has helped you to see some of the wide variety of options we have for elevating/lowerating your products! Would you like more information on any of these options? Feel free to give us a ring and take advantage of our experienced engineering department!
Or you can call just to talk to me about how cool Alpines are. That works too.
Have a great weekend all!