Conveyance options for moving containers

Image: Ska Fabricating

Ska Fabricating advises on how to choose the right discharge, decline and pallet conveyor to pair with a depalletiser 

All images courtesy of Ska Fabricating

Much credit is given in designing a line to the larger pieces of the operation – the depalletisers or palletisers or direct-to-container digital printers. These Cap-Ex items certainly are splashier and more of what draws the eye’s attention when viewing a layout, but just like in our bodies, a heart is no more than a fancy pump without the arteries and veins to feed and fuel it. On a packaging line, the conveyance and accumulation that surround these large pieces of equipment are integral in keeping a line optimised for speed, agility and maximum uptime. 

All conveyors are built to customer specific elevation/discharge heights, and are typically paired with depalletising and palletising equipment, so when selecting the right canning line understanding speed requirements is paramount. The top two questions to always ask are, “What is the speed you need to achieve?” and “Will you be doing a lot of start/stop or do you hope to continuously feed?” The answer to these questions will determine which depalletiser is needed, and what conveyance options are necessary to meet those speeds. 

Ska Fabricating (Ska Fab) takes great pride in the work that its engineering team does to design lines that take its customers’ products to market and change the way they operate to ensure they are able to scale at the rate they imagine for their business. Here are some examples from high, medium and low throughput systems that illustrate the importance of speed in conjunction with proper conveyance and how this alignment can impact a line. 

Inline high speed single filing conveyor

High throughput systems 

S-style side grip lowerator

A recent customer purchased a high throughput system from Ska Fab and needed to run 16, 23, 24 and 25oz glass jars, and wanted to continuously feed their filler at speeds up to 300 CPM. The sales engineers at Ska Fab recommended the FHA 5000 depalletiser, capable of unloading both glass, plastic and metal containers. For loading the full-height pallet of containers, an extended automatic powered pallet chain conveyor was added to the line, as automatic powered chain conveyors allow for continuous production by immediately loading the next pallet as soon as the empty pallet is discharged. With the extended chain conveyor, it is possible to stage two pallets at the infeed. 

Once the pallet is loaded into the depalletiser, it is immediately elevated to the proper discharge height and pushed onto an inline high-speed single filing conveyor with extended mass accumulation table, which accepts two layers of containers. A high speed/low speed photo eye on the accumulation table can remove the space created between layers caused by the time needed to remove the slip-sheet and time caused between lowering the empty pallet and raising the new pallet. 

To lower the glass jars to line level, a fully-adjustable s-style side grip lowerator with ionised air-rinse system was included, as its small footprint saves valuable floor space and the tool-less adjustability makes line changeovers quick and easy. Elevation heights for containers entering side-grip (top) and discharging (bottom) were built to customer specifications. 

All of these conveyance options allow Ska Fab’s customer to meet the filler speeds to allow for continuous production. 

Gravity roller conveyor

Medium throughput systems 

Another customer needed a depalletiser capable of running 180 CPM of HDPE canisters, several sizes. Ska Fab recommended an FHA 3000 depalletiser capable of unloading full-height pallets of lightweight containers. A gravity roller infeed conveyor is used to stage and manually push in the full pallet of containers. Once the pallet is unloaded and returned to floor level, the operator manually pulls the empty pallet from the pallet bay with a pallet hook. 

The layer requirements were smaller. In order to meet the speed requirements a high-speed single filer with extended mass accumulation table was the right fit. Like the higher throughput system, a high speed/low speed photo-eye on the accumulation table removes the space created between layers caused by the time needed to remove the slip-sheet and time caused between lowering the empty pallet and raising the new pallet. 

High speed single filer

Low throughput systems 

A Mini Side-Grip Lowerator is an appealing choice when there are space constraints within a facility, as it eliminates the need for multiple can chutes for handling multiple containers. No tools are required to adjust the lowerator during product changeovers which reduces overall changeover time. Elevation heights for containers entering side-grip (top) and discharging (bottom) are built to customer specifications. 

Lessons learned 

Optimising for speed and accuracy has much more to do with conveyance and accumulation choices that one might believe. Sales engineers at Ska Fabricating relish any challenge and have seen it all when it comes to space considerations in conjunction with line speed and throughput requirements. The company believes a team that is responsive and flexible is everything when designing a line. 

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