In a packaging plant, an efficient belt conveyor system – both for primary and secondary packaging – plays an important role in terms of functionality and efficiency.
It’s not just a matter of moving a product or carton from point A to point B.
The goal is to design a handling system and to unlock its full potential on the basis of products, spaces, production rates, as well as real and complex needs – for both small and large manufacturers.
In terms of reliability and efficiency, the “basic” features of a transport system in the packaging industry are:
- Use of stainless steel
- Quality components
- Well designed management and integration software
In this article, we shall attempt to highlight additional qualities a belt conveyor system must have to be considered efficient and to provide an added value in the production and packaging process.
Belt conveyors: handling and automation
In a fully functioning plant, handling occurs on single sections, each presenting specific characteristics:
From the filler to the packaging machine
The efficiency of a belt conveyor system all the way through the end-of-line mainly depends on two factors: exchange of signals with the machine upstream and belt size.
Configuring and customising the machines’ software settings is therefore an essential step, together with establishing the length of the belts.
Properly assessing these elements will enable the line to manage pile-ups or unforeseen events so that production can continue without downtimes and slowdowns.
From the packaging machine to the palletising station
As we have seen in a previous article about designing a packaging plant, each project must take into account several requirements at once, namely:
- Work flows
- Material handling and staff processes
- Country-relevant safety standards
- Specific conditions: small spaces, height constraints, passage between rooms
Naturally, design know-how will matter even more for complex plants. However, an efficient belt conveyor transport system can have a significant impact on the functionality and efficiency of production spaces for small manufacturers too.
Besides belt handling systems, the design of integrated automations plays a key role in ensuring production line efficiency and executing specific operations:
- Package accumulation/sorting system
- Packaging orientation system: needed for non self-supporting packages, like bags containing powder products. Specific design is needed to efficiently handle the random position of incoming packages, to lift, reshape and prepare the packs to be fed into the packaging machine, preserving their integrity
- Weight check
- Metal detector/X rays to check for any foreign substances
- Marking and labelling systems
- Optical systems to check for bar code printing and label conformity
- Sorting system for palletisation
Relying on a single contact person for the manufacture of a handling plant is definitely an advantage in terms of efficiency and time spent looking for suppliers.
Design know-how also proves essential to add specific automations, replacing manual or semi-automatic, and at times complex, operations.
As seen in this article, an optimal belt conveyor system is designed to meet specific customer and production requirements.
Experience, listening skills and optimisation efforts will be therefore key when choosing a supplier.