Clever conveyor keeps ceramics production moving

Oct. 1, 2008
That’s why the length on the new QWIK Conveyor from Dorner Mfg., Hartland, Wis., can be easily extended or shortened to meet changing automation needs.

Remember the power of the do-over? The childhood rite that made things fair and turned the clock back in kickball or any other street sport? It was the ultimate dispute resolver and a powerful tool in any kid's game bag. Too bad that when it comes to installing new equipment to accommodate expanded production lines, a do-over is usually out of the question. New equipment needs to fit and perform exactly as planned the first time and every time, because a do-over at this point can mean a costly delay. That’s why the length on the new QWIK Conveyor from Dorner Mfg., Hartland, Wis., can be easily extended or shortened to meet changing automation needs.

This adjustability was a key reason why IP Automation, Colorado Springs, Colo., chose QWIK Conveyors to augment one custom-built machine to transport ceramic material for processing. The machinery manufacturer company specializes in robotics, electromechanical and pneumatic automation, systems integration, high-speed mechanical machines, , and custom engineering design services. The company was recently put to the test when one of its customers — a ceramics manufacturer — asked if it could design a mechanism to gently remove rough edges from passing ceramics. The request also called for the ceramics to be divided into three lanes for additional processing down the line. IP Automation had an idea in mind to deburr passing ceramics, but it turned to Centennial, Colo.-based RG Tech for assistance regarding the conveyor design.

“The products at this point in the process are brittle and flaky, and must be gently deburred before they go into the oven,” says Ed Arnick, an application engineer with RG Tech, a material-handling distributor. “Also, knowing that the end user often changes production rates and application designs, I thought that the QWIK Conveyor would be suitable.”

Arnick designed a system of three 8-in.-wide QWIK Conveyors to attach at the end of an existing 24-in.-wide 2200 Series conveyor already installed on the machine at the ceramics manufacturer. Working with the end user’s request to have the new conveyor system fan off into three directions for additional product processing, two of the conveyors would be making left and right turns off of the 2200 Series conveyor and one would continue in a straight line.

IP Automation designed a rotating brush to be placed just above the end of the 2200 Series conveyor to deburr passing ceramics. Product then moves onto one of three conveyors, which is outfitted with modular plastic belts that allow ceramic dust and chips to fall through the conveyor and be collected.

Again, end users can modify the length of QWIK Conveyors, or even add or remove curves to adjust to changing applications. These features give end users in the industrial, automation, or packaging industries plenty of flexibility by being able to quickly and easily modify their conveyor systems when the application changes.

To shorten or lengthen the conveyor, end users remove the plastic chain belt and simply cut the conveyor with a saw to the desired length. (Reconfiguration is simple: Remove the appropriate amount of belt links to fit the new length and tighten the screws with an Allen wrench. To add length, remove the tail and insert a new section of pre-ordered frame, and tighten with an Allen wrench.) End users also can change a 90-degree curve that used to go left and make it go right without having to purchase additional components.

The entire system has been operating in the plant for the past few months with no problems, and no do-overs to date.

Visit Dorner for more information.

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