Installing a warehouse conveyor system is one way you can improve the productivity of a small or mid-sized distribution center or warehouse. Evaluating data such as the startup costs, total ownership costs, ongoing maintenance expenses, energy consumption, throughput, noise level, the environment, and installation is important when deciding on the system that is best for your warehouse operation.
You will need to find out the speed your warehouse must operate at in order to determine the necessary throughput for the conveyor you choose. 50-150 cases per minute are the capacity of lower speed options, while the high-end conveyors handle more than 300 cases a minute. Also, if you may have to move or reconfigure your conveyor periodically, you may want to opt for a modular conveyor option. These are easier to take apart and reassemble than other conveyor systems, allowing for minimal downtime.
Conveyor systems are available in many different types, some of which are listed below. You’ll want to choose the one that best balances return on investment with throughput and ease of operation.
Unpowered models with rows of small metal or aluminum wheels are called skate wheel conveyors. They are handy for bringing bags, sacks, and cartons down a slope. Skate wheels are perfect for moving items to ship areas for loading onto delivery trucks, generally in easy to access areas for short runs. For smaller warehouses, these might be a good choice.
Belt conveyors are a popular, cost-effective option consisting of a motor-powered belt on top of a constructed bed. They require minimal maintenance, and their versatility allows them to convey a wide variety of light and medium range items without regard to shape.
If it is a necessity to move unstable loads slowly, sliding bed systems may be the best option. These conveyor types use an unpainted metal surface sliding along a bed. These are often found in assembly stations and load stations where small products and odd-shaped items must be transported.
For harsher industrial environments that are less clean, live roller conveyors could be your best bet. These models come with elongated, adjustable rollers that are powered by line shafts, chains, or belts and can readily accommodate heavy loads with solid bottoms.
Operations that require a buffer or work in progress may benefit from an accumulation system. These conveyors have sensors that direct their belts or rollers to start and stop in order to pace cartons without causing a delay in production. These are typically more expensive because they require extra motors and controls. However, the cost is offset by the flexibility they provide.
So that your operation won’t be seriously impacted when maintenance is necessary, you’ll want to make sure that your conveyor system is easy to access and repair. As operation cost is always a factor in choosing a system, it’s important to note that a belt system is the least expensive to operate, and a high-voltage, motor-driven option usually costs less than the motorized roller conveyor type.
It is highly recommended that you do plenty of research prior to your purchase, and consult with an experienced industrial supply company. These companies can assist you in finding the best equipment to suit your needs and expectations while staying within your budget.