Fabricators and manufacturers of sheet metal assemblies who want to increase production efficiency and throughput can benefit from an integrated “direct product handling” conveyor system (we use the term “direct” to indicate that it is not on a pallet). For each process stage, special considerations may apply that require optimum orientation, presentation, and access while indexing products on the conveying line.
Appliance parts like refrigerator or oven doors have multiple process steps to form, cure, seal, paint, label, or inspect the item. As these steps may require traveling down different spur lines, engineers may need to integrate sophisticated material handling conveyor equipment to move items between workstations efficiently.
For engineers that are looking for innovative solutions that support each step of the fabrication and manufacturing process, this blog will cover some of the devices and conveyor systems available today.
Sheet Metal Material Handling Conveying Equipment for Manufacturers
Fabricated metal parts often come in awkward shapes and sizes that make them difficult to manipulate during the production process. At different workstations, products may need a specific presentation, orientation, and access requirements. Also, any device you integrate with your assembly process should manipulate the product expertly while preventing damage, eliminating bottlenecks, and maintaining operator safety.
The following sheet metal material handling solutions can help you increase productivity and manage each part with precision control during the production cycle.
Multi-Strand Direct Product Handling Conveyor
When starting the fabrication process, the sheet metal will need a gentle conveying solution that accommodates the width of the material. Due to the lack of rigidity in thin sheet metal, a multi-strand direct product-handling conveyor enables engineers to move the metal sheet efficiently through different stages of fabrication with ease. Depending on the sheet’s dimensions (we have gone over 20 ft wide with 20+ strands!), multi-strand conveyors allow you to add additional support strands to accommodate for the width of the product.
By adding additional strands the product can be fully supported throughout the process and you don't need to worry about the product stalling or deflection (sagging). For lighter weight applications, the timing belt multi-strand conveyor is ideal for heavier loads, you may consider a multi-strand Roller Chain conveyor as an option. Either way, you would be covered. To further explore and while trying to avoid the possibility of product damage or marring, you can use a zero contact zoned conveyor design that indexes products throughout the system from ever touching or bumping into one another. .
Multi-strand direct product handling conveyors provide:
- Gentle conveying of sheet metal products with nylon fabric top-covered belts to prevent marring
- Design flexibility to accommodate any width or awkward shape by configuring the number of strands required
- A variety of drive options and belt covers are available to ensure smooth movement down the line every time
Conveyor Lift and Rotate Units
Depending on the fabrication process, a lift and rotate unit assists you in orientating the product precisely for situations where you need to cut, crimp, rib, or crease the material. Operators can quickly adjust the angle of the sheet for a processing step or configure the unit to provide continuous rotation if required.
With a lift and rotate unit, you can:
- Change the orientation of the product directly on the line without human intervention
- Lift products and provide operators better access for fabrication or inspection steps
- Smoothly lift and rotate sheet metal products at any angle or height
Tilting Decks and Lift Bypass Units
For special situations where you need to lift an item off the line, and you can’t afford to starve your downstream process, a lift bypass unit enables you to manipulate one item without obstructing the flow of products. Highly configurable, you can design a lift bypass unit for any size, width, or height requirements.
Similarly, for ergonomics or ease of operation, a tilting deck allows you to angle the product towards an operator or machine for improved access during the manufacturing process. The deck can support products of any size and integrates seamlessly with the rest of your conveying solution, giving maximum automation flexibility.
Along with these products, a variety of standard customized solutions provides any kind of product manipulation capabilities.
Some of these include:
- Drop and rotate transfer units – Simplifies layouts and saves on costs for rotating products at any angle
- Rack feeder – Provides quick storage and retrieval of items directly from the conveyor
- Pop-up right angle transfer units – Allows you to transfer products between conveyors at 90° angles
- Multiple position vertical transfer units – When you need to feed multiple input or output conveyors staggered vertically
Sheet Metal Assembly Conveying Solutions from Glide-Line
For sheet metal fabricators, the smooth and efficient transfer of products throughout the facility is vital for safety, productivity, and product quality. At Glide-Line, we develop innovative systems that support the entire manufacturing process to help automate any of your product manipulation requirements. We have a short turnaround time, and you can get started quickly using our IMPACT! software to configure your solution.
To discuss your sheet metal material handling needs with an expert from Glide-Line, contact us today.