It’s the new year. Are you like many people who resolve to improve themselves, both personally and professionally? This blog cannot help with personal improvement. However, we can point you in the right direction if you’re interested in professional improvement related to material handling. Let’s start with the choices you make regarding conveyors. What’s to choose, you say? Plenty; so let’s get started.
Choosing the correct conveyor system may seem straightforward on the surface. However, there are many questions demanding answers well before the conveyor arrives.
Location, location, location
The first point of consideration is your facility. Your facility is a major determining factor when deciding on a conveyor system. Look up. Is the ceiling high enough to accommodate your dream conveyor? Can portions or all of the conveyor system be ceiling mounted if required? Are the ceiling supports able to handle the added weight?
Now, look around. What obstacles exist? Are these obstacles movable or must the conveyor path be altered to accommodate immovable objects? Issues related to load-bearing supports, walls and existing machinery all must factor into your decision.
Then, look down. Examine the condition of floor. Will it hold up to the weight demands of the conveyor system? Does its condition meet requirements for anchoring the conveyor? Finally, in what kind of environment will the conveyor be operating? A conveyor used in a hot and humid environment has different needs than one in temperature-controlled settings or situations where products like ice cream or frozen foods require operation in an extremely cold environment.
What do your people know?
There is a huge difference between a simple, 100-foot gravity conveyor and a fully automated conveyor system. The technology on conveyor systems including variable frequency drives (VFD), photo sensors and robotic sorting offer improved productivity along with saving time and money. However, that only happens when employees have the necessary skills to use the technology. Proper training is a must. Make sure resources are available.
Getting there from here
The best conveyor system operates only as well as the ability to deliver material throughout the facility. Does conveying start and end at the loading dock? If so, consider the materials being shipped and delivered. Many items come off a truck in the back of the trailer. But not all. Some require exiting via the side of the trailer, causing unloading/loading challenges that may cause difficulty in accessing the conveyor.
Equipment ranging from palletizers and robotics to ASRS systems are used in coordination with a conveyor system. What equipment do you have requiring access to a conveyor? Do any need special accommodations for it to work correctly?
Predicting the future
What are your company’s growth predictions? Is the conveyor system you’re considering able to keep pace with those predictions or will you go through this exercise again in the near future? There is no guarantee forecasting what will happen next year or five years from now is accurate. We live in uncertain times where both internal and external factors could easily derail plans. However, the key is not being short sighted when planning.
It’s not what you know, but who you know
We posed many questions today, but there are many still demanding answers. You could attempt to do all the planning for your new conveyors system alone. That however, increases the potential for error and frustration. The best course of action in 2017 is consulting with professionals who eat, breathe and live conveyor systems. Their knowledge will save headaches down the road.