Thursday, April 30, 2009

Conveyors: Industrial Slot Car Sets

It’s Diane again, here to reveal even more about my childhood cravings to be an engineer. The other day I blogged about tube clamping components, comparing them to Tinker Toys. Well, it’s one kind of fun to make structures, and another to make things that move. Even more than Tinker Toys, as I kid I liked toy trains and slot car tracks. What fun to lay out tracks and crossroads and drive little vehicles all over the rec room!

In the industrial design world, the equivalent of this childhood fun is conveyors. The industries that utilize conveyors are in every field you can imagine, but the theme is always the same: moving large quantities of items along a designated path.

The most common type of conveyor is the belt conveyor, which consists of a long belt mounted on a moving chain. The chain conveyor is a simpler version where the product being moved is affixed directly to the chain. A third method of conveying material involves trolleys and slats.

Sometimes conveyors use other sorts of apparatus to move material: a screw for dry bulk substances like grain...a vertical lift conveyor that behaves like a small elevator...roller and skate wheel conveyors for sliding crates along.

Along with the simple belts or chains, there are all the elements of the conveyor support structure: the adjusting rods, guide rails, clamps, brackets and support bases. Like the tube clamping components we discussed previously on this blog, these parts are industrial “Tinker Toys” which work together to make the track that contains and transports materials.

But wait, there’s more: you may also need sensing devices to add intelligence to your conveyor system. These include photocells, temperature sensors, pressure gauges and counters, all of which may serve to sense problems or trigger events.

The possibilities for designing conveyors are as endless as the industries that require them. However, if you know anything about conveyors, there is one common issue: wear and tear. Obviously these installations undergo constant use—sometimes 24/7—and they may be used to transport materials that are abrasive, wet, hot, or otherwise inherently destructive. That’s why any business that operates conveyors must have a source of replacement conveyor components. Kind of like having a hobby store where you can get new HO track, knowing your dog will occasionally chew on your train set.

And it’s also why the initial design of a conveyor system must be mindful of the wear-and-tear issue, both in terms of structure and in employment of components that have good enough quality to stand up to the demand.

The items you see in this post are some of the high quality conveyor components included in our product line. You can check out our catalog Section 17 to see our adjusting rods, cross blocks, clamps, brackets, support heads, and bases. We have access to far more products than these, including all the elements of standard conveyor systems, and our Technical Sales Associates would be happy to assist you in finding everything you need for your conveyor design.

When I was a kid, I used my train set, installed under the Christmas tree, to transport pine needles from place to place. The wear and tear of the pine needles was less of an issue than the disruption when track was displaced by our cat. Maintenance had to be constantly on site making repairs, but that can happen with conveyors.

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