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Conveyor Design: Best Practices and Tips

Conveyor Design: Best Practices and Tips

You know you need an efficient conveyor system to move your product or material, but what makes a conveyor efficient? And how do you ensure a pre-designed machine will meet your business needs? The simplest solution is to create a custom system, built to the specifics of your application, with the help of an expert. Designing a conveyor system doesn’t have to be difficult, in fact, even when designed simply the efficiency of your automation line can improve.

Conveyor Systems

A conveyor system can be used to move materials from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’, but did you know it can also be used for sorting, cooling, and screening materials? Perfect for recycling, bulk processing, and metal casting, a quality conveyor can move your business along the right path.

Belt Conveyor Design

 A simple transfer belt conveyor system includes the following components: a flat belt-driven mechanism and belt tension mechanism, a transmission chain mechanism, a work positioning mechanism, and a work detection sensor and drive controlling sensor system. 

One of the most crucial components of a conveyor system is the belt tension adjustment mechanism. In this mechanism, the belt pulleys hold the belt, and the bearing holder set is mounted on a roller plate. The adjustment mechanism ensures the belt is parallel to the roller plate and is made up of a bracket for an adjusting screw and a position adjusting screw block. A chain-driven power transmission system is used to transmit power from the gear head induction motor to the belt pulley. A transfer conveyor belt usually runs at a slow, but constant speed.

Vibratory Conveyor Design 

A vibratory conveyor system moves materials from one location to another using vibration to facilitate the movement. The surface of the conveyor is usually a smooth metal trough, improving durability and allowing for conveyance of hot materials. Vibratory conveyors can be modified and adjusted based on application. The trough is attached to a network of reactor springs and a drive connection situated on an angle causing the trough to vibrate and facilitate the material to move in the desired direction. There are different types of vibrating conveyors which can be classified based on the design and type of application.

Vibratory conveyors have adjustable speeds and are ideal for difficult to move materials. There are also fewer moving parts in a vibrating conveyor than a typical belt conveyor, meaning there will be fewer opportunities for parts to break, less downtime, and fewer maintenance issues. Vibratory conveyors won’t have tracking belt problems or conveyor idlers to regularly maintain. Vibratory conveyors are typically very low maintenance.

Conveyor Design Considerations

When you design your conveyor system, you will need to consider the following specifications: 

  1. Throughput
  2. Maximum load capacity
  3. Conveying Speed
  4. Trough Size
  5. Trough Material
  6. Conveyed material size & bulk density
  7. Drive location
  8. Replaceable trough or replaceable liner (frame configuration sounds weird to me but idk how else to put)

Planning for these specifications will help you to get the most efficient conveyor system for your needs. 

Types of Conveyor Systems

There are many different conveyor systems you can choose from: vibratory, belt, roller, powered roller, magnetic, apron, bucket—to name just a few. When deciding what conveyor system you should use, you must consider the product or material you want to move as this will help you to know what type of conveyor system can keep your product safe. You should also think about what type of functionality your system needs for the products or materials. Does your conveyor system need to convey or feed? What kind of environment will you use this system in? A warehouse? A factory? Outside?  Humidity, temperature, hazardous or flammable materials in the area should be discussed with the manufacturer so that they know of any conditions to plan for when helping you design your system. 

A belt system does what it sounds like, uses belts to move products. The belt is placed in a loop between two pulleys and is supported on either rollers or a metal slider pan—if the loads aren’t too heavy. Belt conveyor systems get their power through motors with either constant or variable speed reduction gears. A belt conveyor can be used horizontally, or even at an incline and can be made of various different materials including rubber, leather, plastic, fabric, and metal. The type of material that is used all depends on the nature of the product that is transported. 

Vibratory conveyor systems are more customizable. Vibratory conveyors can be a variety of lengths and include different processes depending on the application. Vibratory conveyors can heat, cool, coat, or dry materials as they are transported between steps of the process. Vibratory spiral conveyors are capable of the same functions while elevating or lowering materials. Because of the combination of transferring and treating materials, vibratory conveyor systems can be great space savers.

Tips for Conveyor Design

No matter your conveyor system—belt, roller, overhead, or chute, it is best to keep the following principles in mind:

  1. Safety is key. Conveyor systems are usually located in busy and noisy places, so you don’t want them to add to the noise. One way to achieve this is to replace an old chain conveyor with a flat stroke vibratory conveyor. Flat stroke designs and sound deadening troughs provide a smooth and quiet material flow
  2. Use space wisely. Conveyors can put wasted space to good use and can be useful in many situations such as loading or unloading products. Vibratory Spiral conveyors are great space savers and can accomplish additional tasks such as cooling while transporting material.
  3. Keep it simple. Sometimes less is more, although robots or other highly automated systems can be great, they may be more expensive or difficult to install than they are worth. 
  4. Reduce setup and troubleshooting. Conveyors that are connected to a monitoring program can reduce the amount of time spent on maintenance or troubleshooting issues and can often provide pre-programmed routines. 
  5. Budget. When you need to upgrade your equipment, it is important to make sure that a retrofitted or refurbished conveyor is not costing you more than a new one.

No matter how you choose to design your conveyor, keeping the above tips and principles in mind can help ensure you have the most efficient system for your product or material. Not sure how to get started? General Kinematics can help! Contact us today for a consultation on the best system designs for you.

General Kinematics Corporation, incorporated in 1960, was established to market, design, and custom fabricate innovative vibratory materials handling and processing equipment. Today, the company is one of the world’s largest suppliers of vibratory processing equipment, having held more than 200 worldwide patents, and is a significant contributor to vibrating equipment design and application technical advancement. General Kinematics serves a worldwide customer base through a network of engineering-oriented independent sales representatives who cover major industrial markets throughout the United States. International markets are serviced from subsidiary operations and through a combination of representatives, licensed manufacturers, and strategic alliances with leading industry-specific organizations in other strategic locations. Today, more than 50,000 General Kinematics units have been installed in virtually all of the world’s industrialized countries. As new process and efficiency challenges emerge, General Kinematics is qualified to address these needs with advanced technology, innovative engineering, new materials, and manufacturing techniques. All applied to improving customer productivity and profitability while meeting ever more stringent requirements.

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