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How Zoned Conveyor Systems Prevent Product Damage and Friction On Assembly Conveyors

Posted by Kevin Mauger | Thursday, March 1, 2018

Despite the inherent advantages of pallet assembly conveyors, traditional conveying methods have one large negative, particularly when it comes to fragile products: backpressure. In this blog, we’ll explore an innovative way to avoid the issue of backpressure in pallet assembly conveyor systems.

How To Reduce Damage to Products on Conveyors


The Issue with standard assembly conveyors

Pallet conveyor automation systems typically experience backpressure during product accumulation when pallets further upstream successively bump into each other as they stack up behind the lead pallet. This backpressure can generate hundreds of pounds of force and, worse, can compromise the integrity and quality of the products being accumulated.

This graphic shows how traditional pallet conveyors and pallet stops accumulate backpressure.

Traditional Conveyor System Backpressure.jpg

Accumulation is a necessary part of many processes. But when pallets bang into each other and cause damage to products, or friction creates unnecessary wear and tear, a better solution is needed. Until now, up-sizing the conveyor system has been the easiest and most effective way to handle the negative consequences of product accumulation. However, this solution uses larger-than-necessary parts, costs more money, and uses more energy than the right-fit conveyor system.

Zero Contact Zoned Conveyors

The better, more innovative solution to backpressure is an assembly conveyor with individually managed accumulation zones.

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A traditional conveyor, consisting of a longer belt (or other conveying media), single motor, and pallets.  A pallet will hit a stop and the pallets will accumulate behind one another, with one pallet bumping into the next. In contrast, with a zoned conveyor, instead of a single belt and AC motor running constantly underneath pallets (including those stopped and backed up in a process), it has small, individual, discrete 24V brushless DC motors motors distributed throughout the assembly with a series of shorter belts.

These individually controlled motors can turn on or turn off small sections of the overall conveyor system independently. The technology will sense when a pallet is stopped downstream and will proactively stop the next pallet before it hits the stopped pallet. No contact, no pressure, and one pallet per zone; this is referred to as zero contact zoned conveyors.  

Here’s an illustration:

Zero Pressure Accumulation.png

Not only does this simplify the control scheme and reduce hardware costs, it significantly reduces wear and the need for replacement parts.

How a zoned conveyor system prevents damage to products

A conveying system with individually managed accumulation zones ensures there’s always a gap between products, which provides gentle product handling by eliminating the hundreds of pounds of backpressure with potential to cause product damage.

Each individual zone can handle up to 200 lbs, so the ability to transport heavy loads is  uncompromised. A Zero Contact Zoned Conveyor eliminates wear and tear due to friction by dividing the conveying system into multiple zones and operating each zone only as the process requires.

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Additionally, this assembly conveyor can be applied to a process without a pallet. For example, a recent appliance manufacturer application required the conveying of highly polished stainless steel doors.  We used the Zero Contact Zoned Conveyor to prevent any back to back accumulation. And since we prevent the belt from running continuously underneath the product, we avoid any scuffing which could ruin the finish of the product.

Eliminating friction and running the motors and conveyor media only when needed drastically reduces energy consumption. It also reduces wear and tear on the conveyor and eliminates damage to product. Learn more in our white paper on this, How to Manage Backpressure from Accumulation. Download it here.  Or check out our guide to The Secrets To Creating A Flexible Automation Conveyor Application Solution.  

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Topics: Flexible Conveyor Solutions

Written by Kevin Mauger

Kevin Mauger started working for the parent company of Glide-Line the day after college and bought the company 12 years into his career when it was at an all-time low. The company has multiplied in volume 5X since and is growing at 20%+ year over year. Personally, his entire life is based upon spending time with his family, figuring out a way to get out deep sea fishing, and supporting his Philadelphia Eagles. His vision for Glide-Line is to make it the world’s most flexible multi-strand conveyor solution with tools for customers allowing instantaneous response and control of their own destiny along with the fastest deliveries in the industry.

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Glide-Line offers the most versatile multi-strand panel and pallet-handling solution available for the assembly automation industry.

We solve problems that other conveyor systems manufacturers won’t. We developed Glide-Line from the ground up with a few key, driving factors in mind. First, our conveyors had to be robust and reliable. Second, they would be simple – easy to maintain and service. Finally, we insisted on flexible configurability, creating an efficient, hassle-free customer experience. We’ve built the most versatile multi-strand panel and pallet-handling solution available for the assembly automation industry.

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