The increase in demand for consumer goods, productivity and integrated automation is accompanied by the need to have a range of transport systems, each requiring specific and dedicated products.
As well as a varied range, it is also necessary to guarantee products that are capable of offering reduced system installation and management costs and are therefore reliable and durable.
The most commonly used products in conveyors are:
Below are a number of solutions for which these products are usually employed.
These solutions guarantee a good level of scalability and allow the client to quickly adapt its systems to market requirements.
NON-MOTORISED AND GRAVITY CONVEYORS
Non-motorised conveyors are the simplest form of transport, as they rely on force from operators or gravity to move products or keep them in motion.
They are often used for the loading and/or unloading of items. This type of system can be used in picking modules and/or in workstations where workers, on completion of their task, push the relative item towards the next zone or station.
This solution provides a simple work surface and requires less effort from the user.
Gravity versions can come in highly complex configurations, allowing for the handling of thousands of pallet spaces with either FIFO (first in first out) or LIFO (last in first out) logic. These are examples of “Dynamic Warehouses”.
This solution is similar to the above, but it uses a series of wheels instead of rollers, which are set out to form a surface. Each wheel moves independently, and this means that wheel conveyors can be used for curved sections on conveyor lines.
MOTORISED CONVEYORS FOR LOAD HANDLING
In the field of load handling, the market is dominated by two types of conveyor: with belt and with motorised roller.
LOAD HANDLING VIA BELT
With these systems, rollers provide support for the belt on which loads are transported. This provides a continuous and even support surface, which can handle a range of materials, shapes, weights and sizes.
Drive can be provided by a motorised pulley or by traditional systems based on external gear motors. The belt is chosen in accordance with application specifications and can be smooth, modular or with a series of options to allow the materials in question to be handled in the best possible manner.
The Drum Motor is a product created to drive belt conveyors. It is a fully fledged high efficiency gear motor, completely enclosed in a shell. It can operate under a wide range of conditions, also guaranteeing IP69 protection. Rulmeca uses epicyclic gears, with either straight or helical teeth according to requirements, which guarantee a high level of efficiency.
This is the most reliable solution for handling changes in height, for moving items from one level to another in a structure, or simply for creating over- and under-passes.
One possible variant for multi-level handling in very restricted spaces is a spiral conveyor. These systems can make use of either rollers or conveyor surfaces as support for the belt.
LOAD HANDLING ON MOTORISED ROLLER CONVEYORS
Many modern logistic centres use motorised roller conveyors as they guarantee high levels of flexibility for the handling of a wide range of loads, from sacks to pallets.
In general, these solutions can be based on rollers with pulley or pinion (either welded or shrunk-on), grooved rollers, or appropriately operated idle rollers.
For pallet handling, rollers with a welded pinion are most commonly used, as they guarantee the highest levels of traction and have the highest load capacity.
For light and medium weight loads there are countless solutions:
- Chain: drive is provided to the roller via a chain, or with a single section positioned tangentially.
- Belts: in a range of shapes (Poly-V, round, synchronous) and generally using a ring configuration. In place of a pinion welded (or fitted) to the roller, pulleys of varying shape or suitably formed grooves can be applied directly to the roller shell.
- Tangential belt: idle rollers are driven by a tangential belt which presses on the roller.
Drive provided by a drive roller or a gear motor (in more traditional set-ups), connected either directly or via a pinion/pulley to one or two adjacent rollers. In the case of tangential belts, drive is transmitted exclusively to the belt.
Generally, work zones along the length of the roller conveyor are identified and managed by a single motor.
These zones can operate:
· in a synchronised manner, via a PLC;
· via systems equipped with Zero Pressure Accumulation (ZPA) logic;
· with the appropriate management of a number of zones with systems that accumulate items one behind the other (pressure accumulation).
In terms of flexibility, simplicity of use and energy savings, the best solution is provided by a Drive Roller with ZPA circuits. This configuration allows for extremely rapid setting of consistent parts of a system, taking burden off both the dedicated hardware (PLC) and the command software.
Once an individual work zone “passes” an item to the next zone, it automatically stops and waits for the next item.
Drive Rollers are powered at a voltage of 24V DC, and are visually identical to driven rollers, with the exception of a power/command cable. They contain a gear motor (with a brushless motor and dedicated electronics) which transmits drive to a pulley, and from here to the shell and the other rollers in the zone. This results in an optimisation of the kinematic chain, which has a positive effect on the overall performance of the system.
FLEXIBILITY OF CONVEYOR SYSTEMS
In conclusion, it is obvious that system solutions need to be carefully assessed in order to be able to choose the best one.
It is therefore important to rely on appropriately skilled experts who can guarantee quality products and solutions that are suited to the particular handling requirements.
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