June 22, 2024

In many ways, a conveyor serves as the hub of any operation that receives, handles, stores, distributes, manufactures, or ships goods. Because there are numerous conveyor types and hundreds of possible configurations, choosing the best conveyor system can be difficult for warehouse managers and other stakeholders.

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Additionally, there are a number of things to take into account when looking for and acquiring the best conveyor system for your distribution or warehousing facility. You should think about the needs for the process and the product at the same time.

Initially, the perfect conveyor system needs to be:

Safe to operate

energy-conserving

dependable (long-lasting parts and components)

able to change to meet evolving needs

economical (measured by total cost of ownership, or TCO)

The operational effectiveness of a warehouse will be swiftly compromised by installing the incorrect conveyor system, which will increase costs and decrease customer satisfaction before finally depriving the company of its competitive edge.

Now without further ado, let’s examine some things to think about when assessing and choosing the best conveyor system for your business.

Product requirements

In essence, a distribution facility’s conveyor system is used to transfer goods between its functional areas. Therefore, the design, size, and kind of conveyor system that needs to be installed will depend on the type of item or items that need to be moved.

The answers to the following questions will help you determine design and configuration requirements and assist in calculating things like horsepower and belt pull for individual conveyors when you’re looking for the best conveyor system for your facility:

What kind of goods is being delivered?

What is the typical weight of the product per foot?

What is the products’ maximum weight?

What are the product’s length, width, and height—that is, its minimum, maximum, and average dimensions—?

What are the product’s dimensional data?

Which direction and how are the products being conveyed?

A lot of factors will influence your decision-making process, like the product’s fragility, weight, and dimensions. Conveyor width, guide rail specifications, and roller centers are determined by the dimensions of the items in your facility; roller gauge, roller diameter, and motor sizing requirements are determined by the weight of the products.

Process requirements are included.

Process requirements address the particulars of the operating environment as well as the parameters controlling the conveyor’s movement. Among these factors are:

The distance that objects must travel between functional regions

Does the path it travels through have any bends, diversions, elevation changes, or stops?

Product orientation: Do things need to be arranged a certain way (to facilitate barcode scanning, transfer, etc.)?

Which type of movement is the transfer speed—slow, steady, or quick and swift?

surrounding environment

Accessible area

The flow rate

The average transfer rate at your facility as well as times when demand is at its highest because of seasonal variations should be handled by your conveyor system. Conveyor length and speed depend on how many products you need to move in an hour or minute.

Additionally, some conveyor types work best with particular products. For moving plastic-footed pallets, a large plastic chain conveyor works well; for moving wooden pallets, a chain-driven roller conveyor works best. Furthermore, smaller boxes or totes are better moved with the former than the latter.

Transfer specifications

A crucial location is where goods are moved to and from the conveyor. To do this, the majority of conveyors use gravity rollers, dead plates, powered transfers, side-to-side transfers, etc. Larger and longer products might require gravity rollers, while smaller products might only need a powered transfer.

What is the price of a conveyor system?

For modern warehouses, manual transfer operations are unable to keep up with throughput levels required for speedy order fulfillment cost-efficiently. A conveyor system increases productivity, improves ergonomics, reduces product damage and makes for better access to materials and fewer workplace hazards.

For small and medium-sized businesses, however, the lifetime cost of buying, setting up, and maintaining such systems could be substantial. It can vary from hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars based on things like:

Kind of conveyor system

Total length

Required speed

Measurements

Method of transfer and curve

Note: This is just the upfront cost of the conveyor equipment. You’ll also need to budget for the cost of rearranging your warehouse to make room for the conveyor system, in addition to the installation charges. The installation process itself could take a while and would affect order fulfillment and other warehousing activities. Lastly, operating and maintenance costs per year would likely exceed the initial purchase and installation costs.

If you’re considering a conveyor system, consider your budget, the speed at which you need to complete your work, space and other constraints, and of course, your loading and unloading plans. Conveyor systems, for example, require significant infrastructure modifications and are not portable. However, other practical and more affordable solutions exist to automate (and improve) your warehouse operations.