Now is the Time to Invest in Your Productivity
Industries worldwide took a hard hit last year, with demand uncertain and in many cases ceasing altogether for many companies due to shutdowns, significant production delays, a tense global climate, and more. But with 2020 in the rearview mirror, there’s never been a better time to look closely at your production environment, the equipment you’re using in it, and the processes by which you push toward achieving your goals. One area of focus should be material handling equipment.
Of course, material handling equipment is a broad topic comprising numerous machine types, systems, and processes. Where do you start? Consider looking first at any area of your production where you’re dissatisfied with existing material handling equipment or where greater automation is needed. For example, you may have a strong production line consisting of several types of automated systems, but when components or materials exit that system, workers must still handle them manually.
You may need workers to transfer components from one phase to another in the middle of the production chain. Not only is this costly and time-consuming, but it’s also a dirty, dusty, and dangerous process — one that would be better left to automated systems so your talent can focus their energies and time elsewhere. Specific processes may also not be as automated or efficient as possible, such as feeding parts from a conveyor into a centerless grinder.
While the movement of small parts from one step to another might not seem like a significant production challenge, every step not automated is another expense and lost second that could’ve been dedicated to your bottom line. Here, we’ll explore several examples of material handling equipment that your business should use this year for automation success.
Material Handling Equipment You Should Put to Work Now
Automated Conveyor Systems
Conveyors are the circulatory system of any production environment, but there are countless configurations to support your unique parts and production needs. For example, orienting conveyors are a great solution if your parts need to be in a specific position prior to moving to another stage in the process. Here’s a helpful video showing steel sleeves being oriented before being discharged to a centerless grinder.
Forging cooling conveyors are ideal for heavy industrial applications where parts are being forged or coated and must be allowed to cool or dry as part of the production process. This is a more advantageous process than normalizing (allowing parts to cool/dry in a room) because everything is controlled and automated. Cooling conveyors may be insulated to ensure proper temperature regulation during the cooling of parts.
Further Reading: How Cooling Conveyors Improve Production Output
Industrial Parts Feeders
Whereas conveyors serve as the highway for your parts to get from A to B, one of the most essential pieces of material handling equipment is a feeder. There are many types of feeders based on your goals and the shape/design of your parts, but here are just some that are being put to work in production environments around the nation.
Random-loaded hopper feeders (small parts and heavy-duty) automatically feed randomly loaded sliding, rolling, or hanging parts. They’re first elevated and gravity fed into chutes that feature orienting devices to keep parts flowing smoothly. Each is available with various features that ensure maximum productivity, ranging from custom part elevators to speed controls.
Automatic bar feeders are an industrial automation solution for the rapid, consistent feeding of bar- or tube-shaped parts (note that different part types and diameters must be loaded separately). There are several configurations available depending on your production needs ranging from small-diameter feeders for a wide variety of parts to magazine-style bar feeders for more efficient loading and facility operations.
Learn More: How Automatic Bar Feeders Benefit Your Factory
Bulk Material Handling Equipment
Depending on your production needs, additional equipment may be required as part of the overall process. Examples of these types of equipment include tub and box dumpers, part metering and escapement systems, bulk part elevators, and accumulation tables. Let’s take a look at dumpers and accumulation tables.
Hydraulic tub and box dumpers (HTDs) allow the bulk lifting and tipping of parts from one process to another. They can be loaded in a few different ways, but the benefit is being able to automatically rotate a large number of parts — even up to 10,000 pounds worth — to the required discharge and dump angle needed. They can even lift the parts up to 20 feet higher than where they were loaded into the dumper.
Part accumulation tables (also known as unscrambling tables) to gather and ultimately unscramble parts so they can be discharged in a single file line — most often as a support process for a conveyor. Strategically, they allow parts to gather between processes. So if you have a low-speed production line, this would let the appropriate amount of parts gather before being removed from the production line or before moving on in the system.
What Matters Most is Getting the Right Equipment for Your Goals
There is a virtually limitless variety of material handling equipment available, especially when you customize it to your specific environment. At Feedall Automation, we’ve been designing, customizing, and supporting material handling equipment since we were founded in 1946. If you’ve been looking for equipment to make your production more efficient, automated, and successful in 2021, our team is ready to support you.