For companies entering the market for mechanical conveyor systems – and even companies that already have them, planning, designing and building these systems can often seem overwhelming. There are certainly many variables to consider, especially when a poorly designed and executed system will cause frustration and loss of time, money and production long after the installation team has left.
Careful planning is necessary to maximize the benefits of any conveyor system. Yet by answering just a few simple questions, companies can sidestep these pitfalls common to mechanical conveyors selection and operation. With the right conveyor system solution and the right implementation, companies will realize significant production efficiencies and safety gains. What follows here is a review of several factors often forgotten when businesses select a conveyor system.
One of the most crucial variables affecting conveyor system design is also the most basic: the materials to be transported on it. Although this may seem straightforward, a thorough understanding of the material’s intrinsic properties often determines which type of conveyor systems are viable options. For example, a conveyor belt designed for mineral ores is quite different from one carrying raw food products.
To understand just how important material properties are for conveyor system design, consider these material factors it must contend with.
- Size, shape, density, and mass
- Baseline temperature and potential fluctuations up or down
- Explosivity, corrosiveness, toxicity, oiliness, dustiness, and abrasiveness
- Potential for air and water absorption or release
- Compressibility under pressure
- Degradation, segregation, and friability
- Particle interlock potential and flow resistance
- Gentle handling requirements
How a material behaves determines parameters for system engineers and guides the overall direction of the proposed conveyor structures as mentioned by powederbulk.com.
Movement of materials and conveyor components are also essential system elements that must be carefully planned. System movement typically occurs in three dimensions, but there are other aspects to take into account like facility layout, speed and distance that impact design. Related movement factors include:
- How often the conveyor must stop, start, turn, bend, elevate (angle of incline) or fall
- How far the conveyor must transport materials – shorter distances permit use of certain conveyor solutions while longer distances require others
- How fast, slow or what variable rate the conveyor will move
- How static or active the conveyed material must remain
- Speed of infeed and discharge equipment
- Required instantaneous-rate and hourly-rate capabilities – or the rate of material movement at a specific moment in time versus the rate of material movement per hour
- The number of inlets or outlets along the line
By determining the different types of movements and speeds required to ensure rate and throughput requirements, a robust conveyor system can be developed to meet any operational needs.
With the material’s intrinsic properties and required movement throughout the conveyor system defined, these questions identify additional broad parameters that are equally important for design planning.
- System modularity, flexibility, scalability, and portability – How easy is it to expand or contract the system based on production requirements, surge periods or future growth? Can the line be relocated to a new facility or adapted for heavier, larger or smaller materials?
- System reliability – Conveyor systems have hundreds of moving parts. When it fails, work slows or stops, decreasing productivity and increasing operating costs. What is the operational record of the proposed system and reported percentage of downtime?
- System maintainability – How difficult is it to maintain and repair? Are components easily accessible and replacement parts available?
- System sanitation – How easy is it to clean and sanitize system components? How is cross-contamination or dust production addressed?
- System safety and ergonomics – What types of equipment covers, shrouds or other safety measures are included to protect people and product? Is the system physically easy to operate without risk of repetitive motion injuries?
- System environmental conditions – Is the conveyor in a climate controlled environment, exposed to temperature extremes or external weather conditions?
- System service life and long term energy requirements – What is the projected operational life the conveyor will serve? Will it operate intermittently or run full-time? How will the conveyor’s energy use affect long term operating costs?
Although this non-exhaustive list covers many aspects of mechanical conveyor selection and operation, they do not apply to every application. Ultimately, after all factors have been considered, simplicity is a good rule of thumb. If the application does not need a complex, high-maintenance conveyor, simplicity reduces installation time, start-up costs and operating expenses.
After reviewing these factors often forgotten during conveyor system selection, what is the next step? Partnering with an experienced, leading global designer and manufacturer of bulk material handling systems and equipment like Gough Econ significantly increases the overall potential for system success.
It starts with experienced sales engineers working closely with you to understand processes and needs, then developing custom designs and solutions for your specific application. A comprehensive and fully integrated plan is created and optimized for your business, then expertly installed in your facility.
After installation, the system undergoes thorough testing and troubleshooting to ensure complete operational effectiveness from Day One. We stand behind our products by offering premier, on-site customer support to deal with any potential issues. Since technology and business requirements never stand still, Gough Econ continues pushing the limits of mechanical conveyors through equipment upgrades and system reconfigurations. We also help preserve your investment with a preventative maintenance program to boost your company’s success and avoid lost production or additional costs.
Remember, conveyor planning and design ultimately revolves around a few key factors:
- Materials and their physical characteristics and attributes
- Movement, encompassing where and how far the materials need to move, and at what speed
- Mechanics, which includes a system’s physical robustness, changeability, and operation
Headquartered in Charlotte, NC, Gough Econ is known globally for its innovation, quality, and reliability. Our comprehensive bulk-material handling solutions improve and add value to every step of the production process, with a broad spectrum of options able to handle projects of any scope or scale. Contact us today and let’s discuss how we can solve your dry or bulk material handling challenges.