A warehouse operates like a sophisticated engine, where it comprises individuals who work with a vast array of warehouse equipment in the form of tools or machinery in different processing areas. The right equipment can help warehouses raise the bar in terms of performance by accompanying human effort.
The right warehouse equipment can save you valuable time, effort, and money. Given there are such vast options, it takes a lot of work, time, and effort to determine what kind of equipment to use in your warehouse automation. Warehouse conveyor systems are an excellent solution to minimize accidents and help warehouses run on time.
With the help of warehouse conveyor systems, storage facilities can increase their profits and run smoothly. They can hasten the transportation of items and materials within the warehouse and mitigate the risks of handling heavy units. In this ultimate guide, we look at the various kinds of warehouse conveyor systems and how they can likely affect your warehouse operations.
What are Warehouse Conveyor Systems
Warehouse conveyor systems are transportation devices that transport materials and items across the facility and to another nearby warehouse if required. These apparatuses can be operated by gravity, a motor, or manually. Conveyors could also enhance warehouse operations by minimizing human mistakes and arranging transportation processes.
Various types of conveyor systems are used to carry picked items in specific warehouses. Live roller and gravity roller conveyors and skate wheel conveyors are all popular. Conveyors that are flexible and temporary are also used, depending on the occasion. The nature of items to be stored in the facility determines the type of conveyor warehouse managers will require.
Essential Specifications for Warehouse Conveyor Systems
Load Capacity per Length of Unit
Manufacturers will include this feature when conveyors are designed to a specific length to let users form their loading margins.
Conveyor Belt System Speed
Belt conveyors are typically identified in belt speed in feet/minute. In contrast, powered roller conveyors are characterized by linear velocity in units compared to a carton, box, or other object traveling over the driven rollers. Slat/apron conveyors and chain/drag/tow conveyors have a rated speed.
Maximum Load Capacity
This number can be depicted for purpose-built conveyors of fixed length and is connected with load capacity/unit. The other name for this is flow rate.
The capacity of the conveyor for bulk items and powdered materials is calculated in terms of throughput. It is often stated as a volume per unit of time, such as cubic feet/minute. Screw, bucket, vacuum/pneumatic, vibrating, and walking beam conveyors include this feature.
On conveyor systems, drives can be positioned in various locations. The most prevalent form of conveyor drive is an end or head drive, which is situated on the conveyor’s discharge side. Center drives are positioned below the system. Moreover, they aren’t in the conveyor’s exact center but anywhere along its length. They are used to reverse the direction of conveyors.
The conveyor frame’s form is known as frame configuration. Curved, straight, z-frames and other forms can be used as conveyor frames.
Types of Conveyor Systems for Warehouse
Some of the most essential warehouse conveyor systems to boost your operations are listed below. Despite this purpose, they’re must-haves for virtually any form of the warehouse.
This conveyor type is a material handling system that carries items or materials using continuous belts. The belt expands in an infinite loop between two-end pulleys. Both the ends are typically rolled.
For smaller loads, the conveyor belting is backed by a metal slider pan, which creates minimal friction, or by rollers for more bulky items. The motors are powered by reduction gear drives.
Roller conveyors are usually used in a vast range of material handling applications, including assembly lines, baggage handling, and loading docks, among many others. They carry products by gravity or manually via parallel rollers set on frames. The axle center and roller diameter size are critical parameters.
The rollers aren’t motorized and carry the goods manually if positioned horizontally and by gravity if positioned vertically. Depending on the available floor space and use, you can choose straight or curved conveyors.
Power roller conveyors carry items by using powered rollers set on frames. They are typically used in applications where product transportation is necessary. The roller diameter and material, type of drive, and axle center are some of the most essential requirements.
Sprockets/chains, belts, and powered rollers are just some examples of various drive types. Steelmaking, packaging, and food processing are a few typical applications for powered roller conveyor systems.
Bucket conveyors are used in food processing, bulk materials, components, and handling applications. They carry materials or items using multi-sided containers linked to chains, belts, or cables. The containers stay vertical along with the system and are tilted when the content needs to be discharged.
Grain, sugar, manure, sludge, and sand are the most common materials delivered in dry or liquid form. The systems can be used vertically, horizontally, or inclined to alter the supplied items' levels. You can choose from several load-bearing capabilities and sizes depending on the purpose.
Attached ball casters are used on ball transfer tables/conveyors to allow multi-directional product movement. The ball’s size and material are two of the most significant criteria. This conveyor system is used in various material handling applications, including packaging and production lines.
They’re used to convey items and materials from one conveyor line to another. They are often used in sorting systems when positioned in a spot where multiple conveyor lines crisscross. There are many load-bearing capabilities and sizes to opt from. A ball transfer conveyor is not motorized, and external forces are responsible for moving the products along the conveyor.
To transmit cargo, an apron/slat conveyor system employs plates or slates made out of wood, steel, or any other material that is commonly fastened to roller chains. There are no overlapping or interlocking slats.
In general, slat/apron conveyor systems are used in heavy-industry settlings such as steel mills and foundries for carrying heavy and large objects such as drums, crates, or pallets in material handling applications.
The use of slats prolongs the service life of conveyors compared to others that use belts, which tend to wear out quicker under the heavy and large load’s stress. Conveyor systems are commonly motorized and can be found in various weight and size capabilities.
Magnetic conveyors transfer ferrous or magnetic materials mainly in the form of machining trash by the use of moving magnets installed underneath tables, plates, or other kinds of non-magnetic slider beds.
Chip conveyors (like magnetic conveyors) are frequently utilized to gather ferrous chips from machining centers. Systems can be configured to move vertically, horizontally, or both. In place of a slider bed, they may employ a conveying belt or be without a belt.
An electromagnetic rail is used under the conveying belt to draw ferrous items to the belt. These systems might even be utilized while overturned, primarily because of the product’s magnetic adhesion to the conveyor.
Chain/Drag/Tow conveyor systems are used to tow or pull things using mechanical mechanisms connected to moving components, such as cables or chains. Drag conveyors can have multiple loading locations or discharges. They are used for transferring bulk goods in flights, bins, or other attachments.
Tubular drag conveyors use an entirely fenced chain system to convey objects in either direction. Difficult-to-carry items and pallets move on chain conveyors using one or several chains. On the other hand, tow conveyors work with a towline like chains or cables to tow goods directly or to tow dollies or wheeled carts, which are slightly above the floor or on it.
Chute or Trough Conveyors
Trough or chute conveyors use gravity to carry products along smooth surfaces from one level to the other. The chute material and physical parameters such as breadth and length are essential.
Postal service packages, letter handling, packing, scrap processing, and other applications are required for chute conveyor systems. Chutes are designed to have a low dynamic friction coefficient. This allows materials and products to slide freely and can be curved or straight according to the application's requirements.
You'll be surprised to see how much space is above you in a warehouse. This is where overhead conveyor systems step in. Overhead conveyors are suspended from the roof or ceiling. They are usually employed in material handling applications that require the products to hang.
Many designs offer monorails, trolleys, electric tracks, or ramped overhead conveyor systems. Load-carrying capacities might be an essential factor, depending on the application. The majority of overhead conveyors are motorized and controlled, while others run manually.
Screw conveyors, also called auger, spiral, or worm conveyors, carry goods with the use of helical components. They are composed of a steel auger or a helical screw element that rotates around a central shaft, driving the operating material in the direction determined by the screw design.
The helical screw operates within a trough, a casing, or a compartment to optimize the revolving force. Most manufacturers use screw conveyors to move products, including grains, powders, granules, seeds, and flakes. These devices may also be utilized to agitate, mix, or combine such items and keep the solutions stable.
They are implemented in various agricultural applications, from crop and grain movers in factories to balers and threshers on farms. A small screw conveyor can also transport non-flowing, moist, and caking materials like concrete, which is challenging to move otherwise.
Screw conveyors can also be used to carry different kinds of mechanical components. The screw may be in ribbon or paddle shape, depending on the purpose. Moreover, it can be steered by gears, a sprocket and chain, or a direct drive.
Vacuum/pneumatic conveyors transport products or goods in or via closed tubes, surfaces, or ducts using vacuum or air pressure. They are usually used in ticket distribution, paper handling, dust collection, scrap, mineral, chemical, food processing, and many other materials handling applications.
Based on the medium you want to convey, vacuum/pneumatic conveyors can be composed of non-metallic or metallic materials. Depending on your throughput requirements and load, they are also available in multiple sizes.
Vertical conveyors are responsible for transporting goods between floors of vertically conveying lines. The maximum load height and lift speed are the most significant requirements. They carry products or materials from one height or level to the other within a facility.
They can be categorized into two types: reciprocating lifting and continuous lifting. A vast array of weight capacities and diameters are available in vertical conveyors.
A wheel conveyor uses physical manpower or gravity to transport goods along their lengths with the help of unpowered wheels. They’re typically used for unloading and loading vehicles and transporting pallets, packaged items, and other items along production lines or through facilities.
The conveyors are set by the wheel spacing and number of wheels, depending on the application and weight requirements.
These conveyors convey materials along the system beds using linear or rotational vibrations. They transport bulks of dry commodities such as coal, gravel, stone, and other similar materials.
The bed vibrates to carry the material along the length of the conveyor. A tube, a trough, or a flat-table top can also be utilized as a conveyor. You can find vibrating conveyors in various sizes.
Walking Beam Conveyors
A walking beam conveyor indicates workpieces across manufacturing cells using moving and static supports. They are employed on the production and automation lines, where goods and materials should be positioned in sequential order.
The walking beams gather the object being supported in a still location and direct it to its subsequent point, where another production process occurs. The movement is repeated all through the length of the conveyor. Walking beam conveyors might have one or multiple lines depending on the product.
Benefits of Warehouse Conveyor Systems
There are multiple benefits of integrating warehouse conveyor systems into a storage facility, and some of them are listed below.
Warehouse conveyor systems are beneficial in extensive storage facilities because they can expedite the delivery of things across the area. Motor-powered or gravity-powered conveyors are swifter in transporting items across a facility than manpower.
As warehouse conveyors will do all the heavy lifting for you, it results in enhanced productivity amongst the employees. By getting rid of the strenuous tasks, workers will have more time and energy to take care of other tasks at hand.
Another reason warehouse conveyor systems are beneficial is that they alleviate the risk of injuries and accidents. Workers that move large and bulky items from one place to another are prone to injuries and accidents due to the strain of lifting heavy objects.
Warehouse conveyors mitigate the risks by allowing the items to be transported on steady platforms with no threat of the machines experiencing exhaustion.
Reasons Why You Should Install a Warehouse Conveyor System
Warehouse conveyor systems are ideally suited for warehouses that deal with a significant volume of SKUs, especially those that use pick-and-pass or zone-based picking methodologies.
Because conveyors tackle the heavy-lifting of shifting products from one zone to another within the facility, they are beneficial for warehouses that transport heavier inventory. Still, the heaviest inventory that associates cannot lift using their hands will call for other solutions.
Here are the most prominent reasons for installing warehouse conveyor systems within your warehouse:
- To automate repetitive tasks like box weighing, case sealing, and palletizing
- To efficiently and accurately sort products via weights, labels, barcodes, etc.
- To minimize personnel numbers
- To minimize the movements of forklift trucks within the warehouse.
- To efficiently and safely move products from mezzanine floors through incline conveyors, spirals, or lifts.
- To alleviate the risk of product damage.
- To save a significant amount of time conveying materials, regardless of how heavy or big they are, due to inclination.
- To stop the loading/unloading process.
- To transport products or materials through different stages of a process.
- To adjust the speed of moving materials, which is especially important while dealing with delicate stuff.
How to Choose Conveyor Systems for Your Warehouse
Choosing the suitable conveyor systems for your warehouse facility requires meticulous planning and careful consideration of the stuff in your storage facility and, of course, your client's demands.
It’s crucial to know the specifics of the things you’ll store in your facility. The number of items in transportation all over the warehouse must also be considered.
With the wrong warehouse conveyors, warehouse operations can be compromised if not halted altogether. Accidents can occur if the chosen conveyors don’t match the kind of weight and load you want to convey throughout the facility.
Using the right warehouse conveyor system will make your operations smoother and your workers’ lives easier. Here are 3 factors to consider before investing in any conveyor system.
This is the number of units being moved and processed around the warehouse. If you have a high throughput or more stock items require processing daily, you need a warehouse conveyor system that can transport multiple units speedily. You must also look for conveyor systems that can efficiently carry several items without compromising each unit’s integrity.
Take note of how delicate your stock items are to ensure the conveyor systems you opt for can carry the fragile units on the item. You must also consider that you will stock different-sized items in your warehouse. So, you should get a warehouse conveyor system that can accommodate different-sized units.
Any company that wishes to stay profitable will also consider expanding. If you want your company to take in more clients and grow, choose a warehouse conveyor system to cope with your increasing demands.
Check warehouse conveyors that can be adjusted to facilitate heavier loads or additional units. You may also consult with a conveyor expert or an engineer to determine what equipment will be best for your warehouse.