Conveyor System Crash Course

Conveyor System Crash Course

If rinsing machines, filling equipment and capping machines are the arms, legs or ,perhaps, the brain of a packaging system, power conveyor systems are the equivalent of the circulatory system.  Without the conveyor system, the packaging machines would never receive the necessary components to function properly.  A general understanding of the different elements of the conveyor can help to prolong the life and efficiency of the machine.


The Conveyor Frame can prolong the life of a conveyor simply by using the correct material for the given project.  The frame will support the conveyor belt, provide the necessary line height and width and allow for certain adjustments to the conveyor.  Conveyor frames will most likely be fabricated using aluminum, stainless steel or HDPE material.  The material chosen for the conveyor system will depend on the product being used and the packaging facility environment, among other factors.  For example, certain acids and corrosive chemicals may not react well with metals such as aluminum or stainless steel.  Product spills, splashes or even fumes from certain harsh chemicals may cause aluminum and stainless steel to break down or erode at a faster pace.  By using HDPE and following routine cleaning and maintenance guidelines, the life of the conveyor system can be prolonged even in these severe environments. 


The conveyor frame also supports the two conveyor shafts, around which the conveyor belt will be fitted.  The conveyor drive shaft will include the motor that powers the conveyor belt and transfers the bottles.  The idler shaft is the non-powered end of the conveyor, where the belt begins its return. The shafts will each include conveyor sprockets, which will be positioned along the conveyor belt to provide for consistent, reliable belt movement.  When operating a conveyor system, the operator should check the alignment of the shafts on occasion.  Misaligned shafts can lead to excessive wear on the sprockets and conveyor belt, leading to poor performance or even downtime on the conveyor system.


Conveyor belting on a power conveyor system must be kept at a certain tension to allow for optimal conveyor performance.  Over time, belting will tend to stretch, causing additional slack in the line.  Keeping an eye on the conveyor belt tension and removing links to keep tension at the correct level will improve performance and prolong the life of the belt, sprockets and conveyor as a whole.
In addition, different types of conveyor belting can allow systems to handle unique situations.  Heat resistant conveyor belting may be used in shrink wrapping or neck banding applications.  Anti-static belting might also be used for certain applications and bottles.  A variety of conveyor belting is available to ensure consistent and efficient conveyor performance.


Leveling legs, quite simply, allow the conveyor to be leveled.  By adjusting the leveling legs up or down, the operator of a conveyor system can slightly increase or decrease the line height as well.  Individually adjustable leveling legs allow the conveyor to be leveled prior to use even if the production floor is slightly less than level.


The conveyor guide rails keep containers on the belting and moving steadily through the packaging system.  Guide rails are generally contact points for the container as it moves down the line, keeping bottles from tipping over, jamming or simply falling off the sides.  For some containers, such as extremely tall bottles, a second set of guide rails will be added for additional stability.  Whether using single rails or a double rail system, the guide rails are easily adjustable to accomodate a number of different bottle types, shapes and sizes on a single conveyor system. 


L-bracket assemblies hold the guide rails in place on a conveyor system and allow for the above mentioned adjustments to be made.  A simple assembly consisting of two L-brackets and a finger-tip adjustable knob allows adjustment to both the width and the height of the conveyor guide rails.  Always check the positioning of the guide rails prior to running production to avoid container jams and potential damage to the conveyors themselves. 


Finally, every power conveyor will include some type of controller for the system.  The controller will normally be just a speed pot that allows adjustment via a simple dial.  Custom conveyors and special purpose conveyors may include additional controls or special controllers.  With certain packaging machinery, conveyor speed is a very important factor.  Setting the conveyor speed too slow or too fast can actually affect the performance of a filling machine or a capper, for example.  Know your machinery and how your conveyor interacts with the machinery to save yourself from unnecessary downtime.
Of course, there is much more to a conveyor system than what is laid out above.  However, taking simple steps to monitor the belt, sprockets and rail while observing good cleaning and maintenance practices can extend the performance and life of your conveyor.
If you would like more information on conveyor systems, or have questions about packaging machines in general, contact Liquid Packaging Solutions toll free today at 1-888-393-3693.