Power Conveyor Operation
Power Conveyor Operation
Power conveyors systems should, and usually do, require very little operator intervention. For the most part, the conveyor will either be turned on or turned off. The simplicity of the operation of a power conveyor system is one of the great benefits of such a system, allowing bottles or containers to be run from packaging machine to packaging machine reliably, consistently and automatically. While the operator may still be needed for set up, changeover, cleaning and maintenance, for the most part, once the ON button has been pressed or the power switch flipped, power conveyors should run continuously until production demands for any given bottle have been met.
Of course, initial set up of the conveyor system will require placement on the production floor and the leveling of each section of the packaging equipment. If other machinery is involved, such as filling machines, capping machines or other packaging equipment, the conveyor system will need to be positioned to properly introduce bottles to these machines as well. Once the initial install and set up of the conveyor system is completed, future set up and changeover will become minimal. In most cases, set up and changeover of a power conveyor, after the initial set up of the system, will consist of nothing more than adjusting the guiderails to provide the proper support for any given bottle.
The initial set up will also involve finding the correct speed for any given bottle. In many cases, with power conveyors used on an automatic packaging system, the speed will be set upon the initial run of a specific bottle and can then be saved and recalled the next time the bottle is run. For example, the conveyor running under a filling machine must run at a certain speed with a certain bottle in order for bottles to correctly index in to the fill area. The filler control panel will likely include a setting for the conveyor speed. Once the speed is set for a bottle (normally factory pre-set), a recipe screen is available to save the speed setting (recipes will also normally be factory pre-set). The operator then only need reload the recipe the next time set up is performed for the same bottle. Other conveyors will use a controller that allows the operator to set the speed with the simple turn of a dial. Note that some conveyors will run intermittently to allow bottles to stop at certain points on the conveyor system. The intermittent - or stop and go - motion of the conveyors will usually be controlled by sensors along the packaging line. The operator should not have to make adjustments for the intermittent motion of the conveyors, even when a bottle changeover occurs. If such an adjustment is necessary, it may only consist of an adjustment to the sensors.
Routine cleaning and maintenance may vary from conveyor system to conveyor system, depending on the type of conveyors being used, the product being run, the atmosphere in which the packaging line sits and several other factors. However, the main goal of the cleaning is to simply ensure that dust, debris or even product is not building up at pinch points on the conveyor. Such buildup will cause excessive and premature wear to certain parts of the power conveyor and, in the worst cases, actually cause the conveyor system to break down. Maintenance for a conveyor system will consist of adding oil to components when necessary, inspecting sprockets and belt to ensure there is no excessive tear, tightening a belt when necessary and other minor adjustments, again depending on the type of conveyor system being used. By setting up a regular cleaning and inspecting routine, major maintenance and repairs can usually be avoided.
In general, power conveyors need only be monitored by the packaging line operator during production runs. A few minutes spent on clean up, inspection and maintenance at the end of a production day will help to ensure the conveyor system lives a long and productive life which, in turn, helps the product and company do the same.