The Foundation of Conveyor System Design

Written By: Gregg Durham

Conveyor System for a Distribution Center

Bastian recently installed this conveyor system in a distribution center in Ada, Michigan.

As a material handling system integrator, one of the most popular requests we receive from our clients is to design a conveyor system for their operations. Over the years I’ve been with Bastian, we have worked with many customers from a variety of industries, which means the conveyor systems we’ve designed have handled numerous types of products: big, small, boxes, bags, wheels, parts, and the list goes on. So when I ask our clients to tell me about the dimensions of the product their new conveyor system will handle, it surprises me when they either don’t know or don’t ask why I need that information.
Understanding the product that will travel on the new conveyor is the foundation of good conveyor system design. The questions below establish what size and type of conveyor and motors we will implement in the new system, so it’s important to learn this information at the beginning of each project.

  1. What are the maximum dimensions of the product along with the weight?
  2. What are the minimum dimensions of the product along with the weight?
  3. What are the average dimensions of the product along with the average weight?
  4. Is the product to be conveyed fragile?
  5. Is the product to be conveyed wet, hot, or cold?
  6. Does the product have a flat bottom that can be conveyed on rollers?

We need this information for several reasons.

  • The maximum length and width of the product will determine the width of conveyor curves and length of accumulation zones. The longer the product, the wider the curves will need to be. You can’t just use the maximum width dimension of the product because it needs additional space when traveling through a curve.
  • The minimum dimensions will determine roller centers and diameter of rollers. A general rule of thumb is that the product always needs at least three rollers under it at all times. Therefore, if we use 3-inch roller centers, the length of the product would need to be a minimum of 9 inches.
  • The box height will help determine the type of guardrail required and the maximum angle on incline conveyors. The shorter your box or product, the steeper the angle of the incline conveyor can be. This is because the center of gravity on a shorter box is lower than that of a taller one, allowing the box or product to remain stable on steeper inclines, and the steeper the incline, the less floor space we need to use when designing your system.
  • If the product is located in a cooler and/or freezer, then we need to take certain precautions to make sure the bearings and motors used on the conveyor system are capable of handling the condensation that can develop when colder products are traveling between storage and packing areas.
  • And lastly, if the product is fragile, then we need to make sure we keep it from getting damaged by using zero pressure accumulation conveyor. This will prevent products from running into one another or even touching if needed, ensuring they are not damaging while traveling through the system.

Determining product specifications is crucial in designing a great conveyor system. It ensures we will provide a system that helps our clients improve operations, while using the smallest footprint possible and handling products with care.

I have been with Bastian Solutions for over 20 years. During that time, I have been in many different positions including Sales, Engineering, Project Management, Regional Manager and currently, Vice President of Sales, Western US.

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  1. Alan.M says:

    A good distribution network is necessary for efficient system.

  2. Dean Burbano says:

    I value the blog article.Really looking forward to read more. Will read on…

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