Integrating a Modular Overhead Conveyor System | The Material Handling Blog

Integrating a Modular Overhead Conveyor System

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Recently Bastian Solutions teamed up with OCS Intellitrak to integrate an overhead conveyor system for a customer who builds outdoor display screens. This customer developed a new manufacturing procedure and needed both continuous and indexing work zones to assemble the displays as well as a reject spur. Components are assembled in each work zone in a continuously evolving process where takt time is essential. For the project to be successful, finding the right partner was crucial. With their clean, quiet, modular, and cost-competitive overhead conveyor line, OCS Intellitrak became the clear partner choice for this unique project.

System Operations

The system is a 231-foot straight assembly line with a vertical lift at each end. To start, an operator loads a base frame on the carrier under the loading vertical lift. Once loaded, the operator releases the carrier to the assembly workstations where the display assembly is built out in multiple zones.

The zones can be run continuously (at very low fpm) for on-the-move assembly, or as indexing, where the carrier is moved quickly into the zone and stopped for precision-required tasks. All zones are therefore linked to run on a given takt time. Once the display assembly is completed and the carrier reaches the end of the overhead line, it is unloaded via vertical lift and placed onto a pallet for shipping. The carrier is removed from the vertical lift and sent back directly overhead of the assembly line to repeat the process.

System Benefits

  • Modular – The system is bolted together instead of welded, which makes installation and modification quick and easy. In this application the customer needed the ability to change the system as the assembly process was refined.
  • Independent zones – Individual drive tubes are used allowing the work zones to work independently. This also allows for start/stops of certain zones without having to affect the entire line. This was critical for QC operation.
  • Variable Speed Zones – With the IntelliTrak system, the client has full flexibility of what moves, when it moves, and how fast it moves. Carriers can navigate through the system with full independence to adhere to any process needs. Each carrier can be stopped, slowed down, sped up, or even reversed based on the needs of the process.  This supports product flow and ensures that takt times are met.
  • Footprint – Another important benefit of the system was the small footprint. The assembly line is straight with the carrier return looping overhead, allowing operations and storage to utilize more of the floor space.
  • Reject Lane and Re-Introduction – The assembly line operation requires a QC inspection area and reject lane. If the product does not pass inspection, the carrier is diverted off the main line, prior to the unload vertical lift where it can either be serviced or removed. If a product is diverted due to a failed inspection, the main line continues to operate without disruption. A repaired display can also be reversed and re-inducted back onto the main line operation.
  • Clean Operation and Low Maintenance – Because this system uses rotating tubes, very little lubrication is required. General maintenance is also minimal, eliminating the need for specifically trained maintenance personnel. This makes the IntelliTrak overhead conveyor system the ideal choice for lowering MRO spending. Another added benefit is the low overall noise of the system, allowing line operators to work without hearing protection.

After the successful integration of the overhead conveyor line, Bastian Solutions incorporated a palletizing conveyor line, pallet dispensers, work platforms and various additional ancillary equipment to help the operation meet throughput needs. The controls for the palletizing conveyor and pallet dispenser were integrated into the overhead conveyor HMI (Human Machine Interface), providing the end user one fully integrated conveyor system (both overhead and floor conveyor).

The customer’s overhead conveyor system has been in operation for close to one year. They have been so happy with the integration that they are discussing adding a second line to handle expected new business.

As a project engineer with Bastian Solutions, based out of Cincinnati, OH, I work closely with Field Applications Engineers to create proposals, design material handling systems and manage projects. I graduated from Ohio University in 2012. Prior to joining Bastian Solutions in 2017, I worked as a Field Service Engineer in the power industry.

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