Combining Modular Belt Conveyors To Build an Effective Automated Accumulation and Indexing System

When you’re in the business of providing advanced automation systems for manufacturers and material handling companies, the conveyors you choose must be versatile, quick and easy to configure. They must also be adaptable since your end customers often must move different sized loads, affecting a host of elements such as the belt size, drive system and frame.

Recently, a leading provider of integrated material handling systems using the latest robotics technologies was designing an accumulation system for a manufacturing customer. Like many accumulation applications, the system will incorporate conveyors to feed boxes to a robot and also to collect the outfeed. The application details are as follows:

  • Load size: 18 by 17.625 by 8.625-inch cardboard boxes containing 100 parts at 0.8 pounds each, totalling 80 pounds per box.
  • Speed: 20 to 25 meters/minute (65.6 to 82 feet per minute).
  • Drive: VFDs.

Operation and Configuration Requirements

The manufacturer planned to queue four empty boxes — and a minimal load for the conveyor — on the system’s infeed side. When the robot is ready to fill a new box, the conveyor stops to allow the gripper to grab the box and slide it to the outfeed lane. The robot loads 100 finished parts into the box (four layers of 25). When the box is full, it is conveyed to an output lane. The conveyor section must handle four loaded boxes and a minimum weight of approximately 110 pounds. The system also requires the conveyors to run in opposite directions with a minimal gap between both belts.

For internal assembly projects, the end customer also wanted to load plastic totes. Captive plastic pallets support two totes, which have nearly the same dimensions as the cardboard boxes. The two totes each contain 20 parts, thereby reducing the load requirement for the conveyor.

Modular Belt Conveyors Address Unique Needs

Throughout the process, the material handling systems integrator collaborated with a Robotunits sales engineer to select and configure an ideal conveyor system for the job. Our Modular Belt Conveyor is designed to provide configuration freedom for all kinds of transport needs thanks to its compatibility with our wide range of Modular Automation System components and accessories. Together, they give designers of material handling systems a free choice of dimensions, belt properties, belt speeds as well as drive and idler options. In fact, special belt properties including accumulation-specific or cut resistance are available.

The C8M Modular Belt Conveyor is available with the following dimensions:

  • 15-inch frame height.
  • Frame widths from 23.6 to 47.2 inches.
  • Standard lengths up to 39.4 feet.

As with most any material handling system, the integrator had to address various unique requirements. With support from our engineering staff, the system builder was able to:

  • Combine two C8M conveyors onto a single frame with a 40.3-inch width and a 89-inch length, as well as a shared catenary sag box with middle belt support to accommodate both modular belts.
  • Alter the frame to include two drive ends and two idler ends instead of using one of each.
  • Create a split end with a drive end and an idler end, each made from standard parts along with a C8M side plate under the belt.
  • Use a 1-inch diameter drive shaft instead of the standard 0.8-inch diameter drive shaft due to the high accumulating load. A one-inch hollow bore was used as input in the drive selection tool, and the drive end was altered accordingly.
  • Select a 19.7-inch wide belt for each conveyor. This width belt fits on the frame and creates a gap of 5 millimeters between each belt. The drive and idler end used also provide enough sprocket engagement for a belt of this width.

With our C8M Modular Belt Conveyor, our material handling system builder gained the flexibility to respond quickly to its customer’s accumulation and indexing needs. At the same time, the end customer can achieve its production and throughput goals. When it’s time to build a conveyor system for your manufacturing or material handling operations, our sales engineers are ready to assist you every step of the way.

For more information about Robotunits Modular Belt Conveyors, please visit our product page