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Conveyor Types

How can complex, but full automatically operating conveyor systems be simply controlled?“

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The Swiss company Avancon SA has launched a conveyor system, which allows customers to save costs for controlling and programming. It controls itself, even very large and complex material handling systems in logistics centers. The key economic advantages are that a control cabinet or cable ducts are not necessary. Integration into a higher bus / IT topology is incredibly easy.

Thus, an automatic conveyor system operating without human intervention is the epitome of “automation” and that is what has been implemented quite simply with the new ZPC system from Avancon. It is universally applicable and for the operator energy and cost saving. This system is manufactured solely as a ZPC concept (ZPC = Zone Powered Conveyor). This means everything refers to a single zone, the control system, the photo-sensors and the brushless DCMotor. 

The great thing is that no cables are pulled on the construction site and additional control cabinets and cable ducts are omitted. This reduces the investment costs. “We want to save our customers work and costs. That’s why we’re building this ZPC concept, a zoned propulsion system. 

The advantages are obvious, both for the conveyor manufacturer and for the system integrator. This concerns the planning, the realization, the maintenance and last but not least the energy savings. It is very simple and controls itself, so it works completely autonomously.” Says

Dr. Daniele Gambetta, the technical manager of Avancon SA. “Generally speaking, a huge ZPC-conveyor system can be operated, without a higher bus or IT infrastructure. Since we only use this concept, it does not cost more, because these ZPC systems are already pre-programmed. This means that no further programming effort and no central control cabinet, as well as no cable ducts on the construction site are necessary. However, the ZPC controller can communicate with almost any higher bus/IT architecture.”

Externally everything is smooth, closed and with a modern design. You don’t see whether a motor nor a control system or cables. Everything is hidden, safe and clean installed within the profile frame, even the power supply and in the future also the brushless DC motors. However, if one still wants to intervene into the system, make processes visible or wants to receive a warning signal when an element fails out or a motor is overloaded, Avancon has a ready made solution for this. But not only, if further devices such as lifts, stacker-cranes and retrieval machines, packaging and palletizing machines or robots have to be integrated, this is also possible, provided that other bus systems for this purpose have already ben foreseen.

“OK, that’s easy,” says Denis Ratz, CEO of Avancon SA, “Our control system is equipped with the necessary intelligence and is able to communicate with nearly any higher bus and IT architecture. That can be done very easily and without big expenses, too. That’s our advantage. For large systems we are usually very economical, provided that the integrator has understood the system philosophy and follows our guidelines.” 

Well, why is Avancon’s ZPC system so easy?

First of all, from a mechanical point of view, all control elements can be mounted without tools, without screws and without cable fixings. This simplifies the assembly and also the maintenance can be carried out quickly and at very low cost.

A maximum of 31 zones of the ZPC system are controlled and monitored by an AS-interface master. If required, the internal ZPC network can also be equipped with an MCC (Main Control Center), which has a preprogrammed processing unit (PLC) and a modular gateway to almost all higher bus/IT systems. Generally, Avancon recommends the MCC for larger and more complex systems. It can also take on a lot of other features. Mostly several AS-interface masters are necessary, but they can communicate with each other in

the ZPC network, so that there are no limits to the size of a material flow system. If you accept the ZPC system as it is, you save a lot of additional programming time and cost. However, the MCC can continuously provide all data through the gateway to higher levels. Each ASi master has the current status of all its managed and controlled up to 31 zones (62 slaves) – every 10 meters. Furthermore, the MCC can also receive and process commands of a higher level via the integrated gateway. You only need two ‘bits’, as move to the right (01), left out (10) and straight ahead (00). Everything else is done by the ZPC network independently.

There is even an easier way. Take the following example: a higherlevel bus or IT system is connected to the barcode readers, attached to the conveyor system. After evaluating the read barcode of a unit to be conveyed, the higher-level system issues the instruction to the ZPC network to move it in the determined direction. ASi diverts. – Finished.

Thus, the higher level system knows in which side line of this unit is and – if it is then detected at another barcode reader again, it can be further directed as described. So it is tracked to its destination. That’s easy, right?

Machines and operations integrated in the conveyor system, such as strapping machines, label dispensers, scales, palletizers, robots, etc., can be easily integrated in various manners.

Albert Einstein said: “Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.” Here one should add: “but not more complicated, please!” It is absolutely not necessary to repeat and program all commands at a higher level, because ASi automatically executes anyway.

As a specialty, a simple ZPC-control profile is now offered to those manufacturers, who still have an older construction of their conveyors, but understandably like the ZPC concept. This makes it possible to mount all the controls without tools and to use completely the patented ZPC concept as described above. The ZPC-control profile can effortless be attached anywhere with just a few self-tapping screws.

Do you want to get it even simpler?

Conveyor Types

Interfloor Conveyor system for Ingram Micro

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Client: Ingram Micro Commerce & Lifecycle Services, Northampton DC

The Global Leader in Logistics, Commerce Enablement & Device Lifecycle Services.

Ingram Micro Commerce & Lifecycle Services provides supply chain solutions that connect supply and demand. From cross-border fulfilment to dropship and returns management, IT asset disposition, remarketing, distribution etc, their solutions drive growth, enhance ROI, and protect their clients.

They serve customers across a broad spectrum of industries — from fast-growing brands to Global 2000 enterprises — and are dedicated to facilitating their customers success through their global warehousing network, world-class technology, strategic partnerships and decades of expertise in the logistics and fulfilment for technology and eCommerce products, customer support and ITAD industries.

Brief

Ingram Micro required a solution to streamline the packing and dispatch element of their Daventry operation and utilise space with a brand-new 3 tier mezzanine. The system requirement was to handle boxes, cartons and poly bags from all 3 mezzanine levels after they picked/packed and then deliver to the ground floor for consolidation prior to dispatch.  

The Ground floor pick/pack operation is to be undertaken on standalone conveyors.

The client required the system to be fully reversible for replenishment and alternative operation, which required each line to have 3 different operating functions.

Solution

It was concluded during the consultation/design stage that keeping it simple is often the most practical and best method.   Our design evolved such that each of the mezzanine floor systems operated independently from each other albeit managed and controlled from a common control panel.   The control panel, through the HMI, allowed each line to be independently controlled and operated completely autonomous from the others. This reduced the overall risk, simplified the operation and provided flexibility during planned maintenance. 

The Ground floor packing belt conveyors had their own standalone control box.

CSL opted to use proven equipment and designs, which had been utilised on countless installations on past successful projects.

Level 2 and 3 were identical in design and both required to handle the full product range inclusive of poly bags.  Each level consisted of a 20m long packing conveyor belt, which fed onto an AmbaFlex Ambaveyor slat conveyor, which provided a small footprint radius to fit within the special constraints.   Following in the need for a compact footprint, products are delivered to the ground floor via an AmbaFlex Spiral – the most compact spiral on the market. 

Level 1 pick did not include the requirement for handling polybags, only cartons and totes.  For this level, CSL utilised a 20m packing conveyor belt feeding some powered roller conveyor.  The design of the solution and space suited the use of a decline belt conveyor to deliver the product to the ground floor. 

All of the 3 mezzanine levels, had sections of conveyor which sited off the mezzanine floor area and CSL designed and supplied a multi-tier support structure encompassing all three levels.

The client wanted the system to have 3 modes: decline to dispatch, reverse incline for stock replenishment and a back up mode in case of a system issue, the line can be reversed and ran out to clear the line into wheeled magnums.

A spokesperson from Ingram Micro commented that “the new conveyor system matched the brief and the benefits will be quickly realised, the new CSL system will speed up interfloor product transits allowing for an increased throughput with lower operating costs”.

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Belt Conveyors

Plastic modular belts reach new heights

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Two new modular belt solutions from Habasit bring new possibilities for industrial packaging applications, especially in applications where space is at a premium. The HabasitLINK M2592 raised deck radius belt saves up to 5 times the space needed for a traditional radius conveyor. The HabasitLINK M0870 HighGrip Micropitch delivers 50 per cent lower minimum transfer distance, enabling use of grip top plastic belts on nosebar applications with a knife edge down to 6 mm.

Conveyors for use in the packaging industry face several challenges including limited floor space for machines, meaning belts must operate in tight spaces and at tight angles. It is crucial that conveyors are optimised for the space, so they don’t harm production layout. Furthermore, the relatively large transfers achievable with traditional grip top modular belts led to many customers being unable to take advantage of modular belts. The two new products from Habasit help to overcome these limitations.

“Plastic modular belts with a grip top feature are ideally suited for incline and decline solutions. However, until now they were unavailable for tight transfer conveyors,” explained Anders Nilsson, R&D portfolio manager for HabasitLINK. “The new M0870 HighGrip Micropitch 0.3” provides reliable product positioning with no slippage and transfers as narrow as 23 mm, a 50 per cent reduction compared to other grip-top modular belts.

“With its high grip surface, this micropitch belt also allows for higher operating speeds in some applications because of the reduced product slippage on the belt. It also copes better than traditional modular belts in incline and decline applications.”

The second novelty by Habasit is the M2592 Radius Raised Deck 1”, which allows to optimize line layout and reduce the conveyor system footprint.

“We understand that, for many businesses, space is at a premium and this has caused problems in finding suitable plastic modular belts for packaging applications,” continued Nilsson. “The M2592 space saver belt allows customers to save up to five times the floor space compared to alternative solutions. This permits increased flexibility in terms of plant and production layout.

“Furthermore, thanks to the raised deck surface, customers can transport products with a wide range of sizes, from small boxes to wide pans, without interference from lateral wearstrips. This is in addition to the fact that it is one of the most robust belts available for radius applications, enabling longer conveyors and less drives and delivering an overall lower cost.

“Finally, it is worth noting that plastic belts emit less noise when transporting crates and pans compared to using rollers or chains. This facilitates a better working environment while also helping to protect the pans and crates being transferred from damage,” concluded Nilsson.

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Conveyor Types

Conveyor and Automation Upgrade for 25% Efficiency Boost in Receiving and Sortation

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Industry: Home Entertainment DC in Spartanburg, South Carolina

Challenge: Redesign receiving and sorting system to reduce manual hand scans and improve sortation accuracy.

Solution: Custom-Built Sorting System to improve efficiency by 25%

Equipment: Hytrol E24EZ Conveyor, Modsort Divert and Transfer Conveyor, SICK 6-Axis Barcode Scanner + Sizing Station

Challenge: Speed It Up and Sort It Out

Our home entertainment client, DISH Network in Spartanburg, South Carolina, was looking for an automated solution to optimize their receiving and sorting process.

Originally, they had packages coming in on two gravity conveyors, where they were stopped and scanned by hand before being manually sorted and unboxed.

“Here in receiving it’s a very labor-intense process,” says DISH Network Engineer Jimmy Pollard.

“We needed to be able to take that labor and put it to a more value-added process. So we went out to AEC seeking to improve automation in the receiving department.”

Solution: Scanning the Horizon

To streamline DISH Network’s process into the modern age of receiving and sorting, we teamed with System Plast to design and pair our Hytrol Roller Conveyor with their Modsort Divert and Transfer mods with a SICK 6-Axis Barcode Scanner and Sizing Station.

  The new system brings in multiple sizes and weights of packages on two separate conveyors, which are then automatically positioned onto a single conveyor using the Modsort modules.

Lined up along a single rail, the packages are then fed into a multi-surface scan tunnel for sizing and barcode scanning.

“What makes this process a more reliable sort is when it goes through the scan tunnel, it doesn’t have to search the entire contents of the width of the conveyor to find the box,” says AEC Material Handling Specialist Brian Hester.

“You’ve sent it to a fixed edge, which makes it a faster, more reliable scan.”

Once the packages have passed through the scan tunnel, non-accepted packages are sent down a side conveyor while accepted packages are once again split up into two conveyors.

From there, they are sent through a proprietary cutting machine, coming out the other end ready to be manually unloaded and sorted.

Saving Valuable Time and Resources

“The only people on the line now are the people putting packages onto the conveyors within the trailers. And then people further down the line are emptying the contents out of the boxes,” says AEC Material Handling Specialist Brian Hester.

“Everything between those two pieces is all automated.”

Hytrol’s E24EZ Low-Voltage Conveyor

Safety was also increased through the use and integration of Hytrol’s E24EZ Conveyor with the Modsort module which runs on 24 volts.

This low-voltage solution allows packages to be moved deliberately and evenly along the conveyor without the risks inherit to a gravity conveyor system, or the need for additional safety applications.

“The existing conveyor was built on a 24-Volt DC platform. So we knew we could utilize the 24 DC architecture of the System Plast Modsort without the additional safety guarding that would normally go around it,” says AEC President Darin Boik.

“Using the E24Z was definitely a time and cost saving benefit for all.” 

Just a 4-Day Install to Live Operation

Over the course of just four days, starting on a Thursday evening, the old system was removed and the new system in place.

On Tuesday morning, the packages were ready to roll.

Result: 25% Boost to Overall Process Efficiency

With the new system from AEC in place, DISH Network was able to increase efficiency as well as safety, while still saving money.

“Now the automated scan system is placed exactly where we used to have people that hand-scanned product.  This change allows us to move people to a more value-added process,” says Pollard.

“Automating this piece saves the company money – and by doing that we save our customers money and time.”

Repeat Business is a Testimony to Success

By integrating these various systems so successfully, AEC was brought on to provide the same custom material handling solution for DISH Network’s facility in El Paso, Texas.

“Because of the lessons we learned, we were able to finish that project in just 3 days with the same installer, so it worked out really well,” says Hester.

From Concept to Completion

As DISH Network’s single point of contact for AEC, Hester was there from “cradle to grave” on the project.

From development and layout to equipment selection and installation, only one project manager handles everything for our client. And the result?

25% Boost in Efficiency and Improved Safety

“With the design and automation supplied by AEC, we found that we improved our overall process by 25% in efficiency,” says DISH Network Engineering Manager, Robert Russel.

“Now that it’s automated, we’ve achieved improved sortation accuracy and minimized touchpoints.”

Source: www.aec-carolina.com

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