Choosing the Right Conveyor for Your Warehouse
The right conveyor to move product around your warehouse for loading, unloading and picking is a critical component to improved productivity as well as accuracy and inventory. With several models and capabilities in the market, there are three that provide accessibility, accuracy and fluidity in most warehouse types.
A gravity conveyor moves the load along the belt without using a power source, influenced through an incline or by a person pushing the product load along the conveyor. This option is low cost, lightweight and ergonomically friendly to warehouse employees. There are also power options that reduce energy needs while maximizing productivity.
There are two main types of gravity conveyor: skatewheel and roller. Skatewell gravity conveyors work well for boxes, sheets, carriers, flat bundles, cartons, crates, smooth bottom totes and even flat bags. Items wider than the rollers can be moved on a skatewheel conveyor. Skatewheel conveyors are designed to allow “curves” in the track without affecting the rollers or the ability of the product to roll along the conveyor. Roller conveyor belts work best with wire bins, wood boxes, barrels, blocks, canisters, drums, lumber, cans and strap-items because roller belts do not work with loads wider than the rollers. This type works best for uneven surface loads that are also rough, flimsy or banded.
Belt conveyors have a wide range of applications. They are capable of handling bulk materials horizontally or an incline and can be designed for a combination of both. The belt surface can move very fine materials up to large size products. Their chief use is for such bulk materials and is a very cost effective and energy efficient way to move said materials for processing, loading or unloading and can handle six times the weight of a roller conveyor.
They can be designed and configured for varied capacities, handling large weights up to 10,000 tons per hour, such as in ship loading and unloading. Conversely, they can be utilized to move smaller amounts of material beyond processes in manufacturing and warehouse environments as well. Because the load stays static on top of the belt, transport of materials is safe. Beyond transporting product, they are also useful in testing, sorting, packing and inspecting.
Ball tables are used when conveyor direction must change, like at the intersection of two conveyors. Ball tables come in a variety of style and can be configured to fit any other type of conveyor system but work best with smooth surface items, much like the gravity conveyor.
They can be used as turntables, cargo decks, feed tables, die and fixture handling, sorting tables, and assembly and storage lines. They are perfect to move smaller items requiring free movement, such as containers, assemblies, dies, fixtures and other tools. Ball tables have “drop in” features to match other conveyor systems, making them simple to install and efficient to use.
The type of conveyor you choose for your warehouse depends on the type of product you are moving, its weight and size and its bottom surface. There are many types of conveyors to choose from but gravity and belt conveyors, as well as ball tables, can meet the needs of most industries in a cost savings, energy reducing and productivity enhancing manner that keeps employees safe and the team on schedule.