Getting Air: New Vertical Conveyors Raise the Bar

Written By: Derek Cribley

Who doesn’t have fond childhood memories of jumping over objects, whether it was on a bicycle, sled, skis, or dirt bike? Well, “getting air” is not just a kid’s dream; our customers want it, too. It seems like almost every project has some requirement to elevate product from one level to another.

It makes sense considering customers want to make the most of their available floor space, and there typically is more than enough available space overhead. Sometimes the need to go vertical is simply to gain clearance for personnel or vehicles that need to travel on the ground level. Other times, it is the more complex requirement to move product between multiple levels of a pick module or mezzanine.

What I have learned from these projects is that knowing the most efficient way to make the required elevation change can be the difference between clearing the hurdle and winning the project or falling short and landing on your backside. Luckily, there are a couple relatively new vertical conveyor technologies that can help.

Nedpack Vertical Conveyor

One of the more intriguing solutions comes from Amsterdam. I first saw this at ProMat and was immediately drawn to the prominently listed price of under € 7000. Although it comes with many disclaimers, it is quite a deal considering a simple belted incline can easily run that amount.

The Nedpack vertical conveyor is a relatively simple chain driven lift that operates continuously in a vertical loop. A forked lift platform allows the product to be “scooped” up from the loading position and deposited on the unloading position.

The use of various pre-engineered retractable loading or unloading positions also allows the lift to merge from or sort to multiple vertical levels. Of course, putting mechanisms like that into the lift quickly raises the price–per the disclaimers–but these features can eliminate a lot of other costs, complexity, and space compared to conventional solutions, and as a result, the Nedpack lift remains a great value.

Nedpack Vertical Conveyor

Nedpack Vertical Conveyor

Nedpack Vertical Conveyor Rendering

Picture Courtesy of: www.nedpack.nl/

Multi-Entry Spiral Conveyors

If merging from or diverting to multiple levels is a project requirement, I would also recommend considering the new spiral conveyor technologies like those available from Ambaflex or Ryson. Both companies are offering some relatively new twists (pun intended) with their multiple entry spiral conveyors.

On a recent project where the concept had multiple spirals at opposite ends of a multi-level pick module, we were able to reduce this to a single spiral, cleverly engineered with intermediate merge spurs.

The side guarding typically installed continuously on the outside edge is simply removed and a smooth merge edge is installed to allow product to be introduced into the middle of the spiral via an attached spur. The ability to divert off various levels can be accomplished by the addition of a pivoting plow arm or pusher.

Multiple-Entry Spiral Conveyor from Ryson

Picture Courtesy of: www.ryson.com

Diagram of Radial and Tangential Diverts

There are many types of vertical conveyor and lifts, but the Nedpack and improved options from Ambaflex and Ryson are two excellent choices for getting the elevation you need in your facility. Every project and situation is different, so be sure to evaluate what vertical option is best for you. If you need assistance, give us a call, and we would be happy to help you “get some air.”

I have been with Bastian for 12 years. I originally served as a Project Manager and Design Engineer before being promoted to Manager of the Systems and Controls groups and becoming a partner in the business. I enjoy the fast-paced projects we get involved with and solving our customer’s problems with solutions customized to their operations. I am proud of our employees and their dedication to make every project sucessful for our customers.

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