“Back in my day we drew on a drafting table. That was how you learned conveyor system design.” Okay, so I don’t remember those exact words leaving my grandpa’s mouth, but they could have. He was a classically trained engineer and everything had to be just so. At least with my dad it is something more approachable, like one of his famous napkin drawings.
The truth is, when my family started Flex-Line in the early ‘80’s conveyor system design was pretty much like that though. There were a lot of hand drawn layouts and parts lists were on yellow notebook paper. We have been with FlexLink tabletop conveyors since their infancy, so our methods have grown right along the industry.
That’s right. It wasn’t always 3D models and Solidworks, people! You want to talk about uphill both ways? I learned to build a multilevel conveyor system from a 2D AutoCAD drawing.
Insert the “okay grandma” meme here, right?
But what really makes for good conveyor system design? I feel like I am in a pretty good position to know since I have not only seen, but quoted conveyor systems in a variety of ways: yellow notebook paper, excel lists, and a couple different versions of manufacturer supplied design tools.
The benefit to doing conveyor system design “longhand” is kinda like why you need to learn to do math the long way first – you have to understand how it all goes together before you can take shortcuts.
If you don’t know how things really work together you don’t know how to optimize your system. For example, you can design a really sweet pallet system in design tool, but none of your integrated RFID will work right if you have a plant in Arizona and you didn’t think to account for static. And that is a higher level problem with conveyor system design, something as simple as choosing the cheapest wearstrip option can cause a bunch of headaches if you are running high speeds or through cutting fluid. Oh! And don’t forget the chain pull. And don’t get me started on the pricing with those design tools! Did you know that they make you buy the whole box of t-bolts, rather than just what you are using? Shameful.
If you want to get good at conveyor system design you have to do your homework. There is a whole section at the front of the catalog on different factors at play. You have to study it.
Or if you don’t want to take the time to become an expert why don’t you phone a friend? Unlike in school, it isn’t cheating to have someone do it for you. It is smart, and a good way to use your resources. We have been doing our homework here at Flex-Line for over 30 years. We read the catalog. We made some stupid mistakes, and we learned from them so that you don’t have to. Do you want the best conveyor system design? Call an expert. Call us.