Automated Bulk Case Dispensing with Conveyor
With our drive to continually improve our customer’s operations, we are always on the lookout for simple solutions that make those improvements a reality. A recent example of this was with one of our partners in beverage distribution. Many of their suppliers provide whole pallets with one SKU which are used to fulfill portions of mixed SKU customer orders.
Traditionally, associates would manually pull one item at a time from different pallets to build these mixed orders, but this process can be error prone in regards to product selection and quantity. After looking at available solutions on the market, our Systems and ZiPline Conveyor teams agreed we could implement our modular conveyor with minimal changes along with ExactaBev software for better order routing.
Designing a Case Dispenser Using Modular Conveyor
We needed the ability for an associate to off-load and stage multiple cases from one pallet SKU as a slug with minimum backpressure while reliably singulating and releasing cases one at a time upon request. We were confident that a combination of gravity conveyor and our Belted Zero Pressure DC (BZPDC) conveyor would be ideal for satisfying the customer’s need.
At the top of the dispenser, associates manually load cases of matching SKUs, pushing them onto the declined rollers until the dispenser is filled with product. The gravity conveyor is broken up into three motor driven roller (MDR) brake zones–each of which is additionally equipped with magnetic speed controlled (MSC) rollers–used to actively control the slug of product as it backfills the position of dispensed cases. Active control of product slugs keeps accelerating cases’ speed in check as they approach the gapping zone. This minimizes spikes in backpressure and prevents double-dispensation.
Installation and maintenance of the case dispenser is fast and straightforward. The declined roller zones feature a drop-in brake assembly which can be removed or adjusted both in height and roller position. These adjustments are achieved with four accessible bolted connections.
The dispenser comes with hazardous-condition-rated sensors, designed for systems susceptible to leaks and vibrations. The setup includes a release photoeye for validation of a released case and restock photoeye indicating when the lane needs to be restocked.
Results: Increased Speed and Accuracy
The case dispenser solution is capable of rates over 100 cartons per minute (CPM) with each line achieving up to 50 CPM. This has provided a vast reduction in errors for the operations in which it’s been implemented. One installation has seen over 11 million cases dispensed in just a couple of years. Additionally, this gave our client the ability to reduce labor and shift man power to other needs. Coupled with implementation of ExactaBev software, the solution has allowed for increased visibility of order creation and routing.
We’re excited for this application and the effect it can have in beverage distribution, but it doesn’t have to stop there. The case dispenser can be implemented in operations where there is high volume of similar case profiles or with other technologies such as robotic palletizers and depalletizers for advanced automation solutions.
ZiPline Conveyor’s systematic design allowed for standard products to be leveraged in advanced solutions leading to improved operations and reduced errors. Contact us with your challenges so together we can find the best solution.
10/31/2019 12:19 PM
Sam, that's awesome! Way to go, man- very cool.
11/1/2019 03:36 PM
Very impressive projects and forward thinking. In today’s environment of on line purchases, speed to customer is paramount in managing a business edge. I look forward to continued updates on what the author/engineer is going to do next. The future is in the hands of creative engineering.
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