The manufacturing business is seeing a surge in automation, one of the well-known facts. U.S. sales of robots have skyrocketed since 2010, according to the World Federation of Robotics.
“[In order to have domestic production facilities] updated as needed.” In reality, automation is bringing about a more contemporary and efficient shift in the industrial sector. Consider the financial benefit to Amazon from Kiva’s robotics: Amazon was able to save about $22 million in operational costs because of Kiva’s automated picking and packaging robots.
Automation of critical operations is essential for manufacturing facilities to not just survive but thrive in this rapidly evolving industry. Using intelligent conveyor technology should extend beyond picking and packaging into production facilities as a whole.
What are Smart Conveyor Systems?
Building a machine or assembly line to carry out the same operations repeatedly was the definition of automation for almost a hundred years. Even though the equipment was costly, it would last long after the business had made a return on investment (ROI) due to the lengthy product life cycles. A new paradigm has emerged in modern times.
One answer is the use of motion control in conveyors. Carts in these systems are separately asynchronously routed along tracks. Programming may be changed in real time because of high-speed internet. The end product is a transport system that is quick to respond and versatile enough to work in fields as diverse as heavy industries, packing, laboratory services, and assembly.
Smart Conveyor Functions
Smart conveyor systems provide several advantages over traditional ones, such as the ability to track products, minimize collisions, save energy, do predictive maintenance, and decrease downtime.
1. Conveyors are industrial workhorses.
Put AC induction motors with set speeds and continuous belts out of your mind. Nowadays, conveyors can position components at incredibly complicated and rapid speeds. Omnidirectional conveyors, brief pieces of direct-drive conveyors, and autonomous systems that propel individual carts over powered tracks are also viable options. Belt conveyors are used in many different industries, including manufacturing, meatpacking, package handling, and palletizing.
Production is the first step. Pursuing the elusive batch of one has led manufacturers to abandon the traditional business strategy of storing warehouses with massive quantities of a single item in favor of processing ever-smaller batches.
Naturally, the manufactured goods must be transported either to another manufacturing facility for further processing, to resellers, or, finally, to the end user. These are, to put it bluntly, mind-boggling figures. Take Amazon Prime as an example; in 2017, it sent over 5 billion products. The magic happens thanks to conveyor technology.
2. Monitoring Products
With the help of smart conveyor systems, it is possible to monitor specific items’ location, velocity, and orientation in real-time. On top of that, they have more complex uses, such as keeping track of when you get to the discharge station.
This differs from the standard conveyor systems that detect material on the belt in its entirety. Neither the product’s location nor the material’s speed can be detected by standard conveyors. When considering merely belt speed, for instance, it is assumed that all materials, whether on or off the belt, would similarly move at this pace.
3. Preventing Collisions
Smart conveyor systems can also benefit from AI-assisted collision-free mobility. It is also possible to employ product monitoring characteristics like speed and location to align materials that are like one another.
If the substance being conveyed is delicate or easily broken, this becomes necessary.
4. Minimizing Energy Waste
Artificial intelligence (AI) in smart conveyor systems can detect specific materials and adjust the conveyor’s speed output based on the load, making for a very energy-efficient system. During non-peak hours, the AI may also turn off the conveyors to save energy.
5. Maintenance Predictions and Decreased Downtime
For predictive maintenance and condition monitoring, smart conveyors can track the health of specific devices and components using motion control and smart sensors. Under typical conditions, an alteration in cart speed, for instance, might indicate an issue. While the conveyor is stopped or after the operation, the technical staff can find the fault and fix it or schedule maintenance.
Using Digital VFDs to Integrate a Conveyor System
Once again, let’s examine the system to show how digital VFDs may be integrated into a conveyor system:
Run the command
The VFDs control board has five VFDs, one for each conveyor motor. These VFDs are linked to each other. The feedback from run A is connected to run B, which is connected to run C, which is connected to run D, and finally to run E through the wiring of run B.
Conveyor A is the only one that receives the system start instruction; conveyor B begins conveyor C; conveyor C starts conveyor D; and conveyor D starts conveyor E through the run return signal linked between the conveyors. All five conveyors are initiated in this way using the VFD controllers.
Control of conveying speed reference
Just the VFD for Conveyor A receives the primary system speed reference input. The speed control signal is sent upstream in a cascaded conveyor from A to B to C to D to E using the VFDs of Conveyors A, B, C, and D. If you alter the speed associated with conveyor A, the velocity of the conveyors above that feed product into conveyor A will also be altered.
Control to stop or fault
These VFDs are physically linked to one another. Conveyor E’s stop is connected to D, which, in turn, is connected to C, where it’s connected to B, and B connects with A through the wiring. Conveyor E receives the stop order, which stops Conveyor D. Conveyor D then stops C, which stops B, which further prevents C again, and B contains A.
The last word!
In recent years, automated conveyors have emerged as a popular and cutting-edge method for transporting commodities in many industrial settings. Conveyor systems, whether belt, chain, roller, or modular, are custom-made to meet each client’s demand. Ultimately, such smart tools make it possible to move different materials quickly, accurately, and securely.