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Conveyors have evolved over time to become more than just a means to move a product from point A to point B. Today, conveyors are an integral component of material handling systems. However, their ability to effectively manage an application depends on how well you select the right conveyor that best suits your specific needs.

With the vast variety of materials, configurations, accessories, and sizes, choosing a conveyor system can be an overwhelming task. Dorner Conveyor Systems developed the infographic “5 Easy Steps to Choosing a Conveyor” to help simplify the process (see below).

The first factor to be considered is the sort of environment the conveyor will be operated in, which is typically dictated by the nature of the application: will the belts require washing, a simple washdown, or spot cleaning? How frequently will it need to be cleaned? High pressure or low pressure washings? All these questions will help you determine the material and possible configuration necessary for your application.

For example, if you need to process and handle food be sure to look for USDA/FDA-approved sanitary belts. Additionally, your sanitary conveyor should be able to be completely disassembled for cleaning, reassembled, and put back into operation all within a few minutes. These are the sort of features desired in a sanitary conveyor system.

To uniquely match your product to a conveyor that meets your performance requirements, it’s important to also be aware of the following information:

  • Weight of the parts
  • Size of the parts
  • Desired speed of the conveyor
  • Projected product flow of the application
  • Projected product transfers

Thinking through each of these components will help you determine the best structural configuration for your application. Conveyors are able to go straight, curve, or go up or down as needed. They also require mechanisms as attachment points for accessories. To help clients better understand the design process and visualize the final result, several professional conveyor manufacturers have configurators on their website that allow you to build your own conveyor system.

This resourceful online tool takes you through each step of the design and specification process and better visualize the conveyor system. To learn about the six most common types of conveyors and their purposes, see the infographic found below.

Another critical factor to consider is size. When selecting your conveyor, be wary of vendors who try to sell you pre-made systems built to their specifications. You should find a vendor that custom builds all conveyors to order. This ensures that you’ll receive the exact dimensions you’ll need to best transport your product.

After figuring out environment, size, and speed, it’s time to finally move the conveyor. While there’s not a lot of difference between motors, the most important thing is to check that the motor you select has enough power to move the conveyor as well as the anticipated weight of the products.

To calculate what motor is best for your application you need to take into consideration belt speed and conveyor load. Only one type of motor has a specific function and that’s servo drives--these accurately stop the conveyor as well as enable controlled acceleration and deceleration. As such, they are ideal for assembly operations.

Once you’ve determined how your conveyor system will be powered you can begin to look at a variety of accessories to assist in product movement, transfers, and safe operation.

For more details about accessories, styles of belts, and several other factors of finding the right conveyor for you, check out Dorner’s “5 Easy Steps to Choosing a Conveyor” found below!

Image credit: Dorner Conveyor Systems
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