o, you have products that need to be moved from point A to point B. Naturally, you decide that you need a conveyor, right? Sure you could use a cart, or have people wearing their backs out toting boxes, but why not enter into the wonderful world of conveying options? Except maybe that the world of conveying is very overwhelming. It isnt just about low cost leaders here. There is so much more to consider than upfront costs. 

Do you want gravity conveyor, or powered options? What about rubber or plastic belt; or steel belts? How about guiderails? Are they going to mar the product? If you accumulate, is your product going to all fall down? What style drive do you need? Do you need a VFD? Are you carrying multiple sizes of products on the same line? How fast is your changeover? How fast is your line? Can you even carry golf balls up an almost 90 degree incline? What about conveyor made from rubber bands, do they do that? Should you get a steel conveyor, or an aluminum one? Do you need adjustable height? Do they even make a conveyor for your application? Maybe most importantly, even if the conveyor works what is the system with lowest total ownership cost? So – Many – Options…

Let me make it simple for you. Here are five questions to ask yourself about your product when you are picking out a conveyor system. Or, you could just call us and take advantage of our free engineering and experienced staff so you dont have to worry about it, but I digress 😉

  1. Are you planning on running multiple products on the same line? If you are, and there is a big discrepancy between the product sizes then it can be better to look towards wider belts or custom guiderails to ensure stability.
  2. What are your products contact points like? Abrasive metal parts may need belt conveyor or steel top chains in order to increase the lifespan of your wear parts, but PET bottles need guiderail cover and rollertop chains to reduce surface marring. Not every manufacturer handles both of these options.
  3. What is the lifespan of this product? Are you going to need to reconfigure this system regularly, like a custom packager would; or will this conveyor be set for a number of years, like at many pharmaceutical manufacturers? It is much easier to change the configuration of a modular plastic conveyor than it is to reconfigure belt conveyors. Gravity skate wheel conveyors can even be swiveled around in place allowing for different positions without changeover, but all of that depends on your product.
  4. Where are you trying to move your product? A powered roller conveyor can be great for moving boxes in long straight stretches, but it isnt so efficient if you need to make multiple turns or move your products up or down vertically in a small space. Keep your open floor space in mind.
  5. How much profit is in that product? Many of us dream of a shiny manufacturing facility with automation everywhere, but for some widgets that just isnt in the cards. For example, sometimes the FlexLink tabletop chain conveyor is more expensive than the mK belt conveyor, which is more expensive than a Veyor. They are all fantastic products mind you, and upfront costs are not the same thing as lifetime ownership costs (such as FlexLink: it has lower lifetime operating costs by having longer lasting wear parts and more efficient drives); but it can be hard to see that from a proposal.

If you give some thought to those five questions and share them with your engineering partner from the get go, it can help them to help you to find the best solution for your particular application.

Make sure to check back with us next week to find out our tips for how to choose your material handling partner!