A conveyor system is a piece of mechanical handling equipment that moves materials from one location to another. Conveyor systems are used as an efficient method in the transporting of physical goods, making conveyors particularly useful in the material handling and packaging industries.
A gravity conveyor moves a load without utilizing motor power sources. Gravity conveyor systems are non-powered conveyors, using the force of gravity to operate them. With the help of an incline or manual force, such as a person physically pushing the load, materials move down the conveyor line along a series of evenly spaced metal rollers or wheels. These rollers or wheels transport products from one designated work area to a second work location.
Gravity conveyors are a popular choice due to their simplicity of design. These systems are often used for operations that require packaging and pallet handling, assembly, and kitting and for truck offloading sites. In fact, gravity conveyor systems are widely used across a range of industries because of the benefits they provide. Conveyor systems aid in the safe transportation of materials from one level to another, which minimizes the costs associated from relying on human labor to operate forklifts or other heavy machinery to move materials throughout a warehouse. Gravity conveyor systems are practical in that they can be installed in many locations, can move loads of various shapes, sizes, and weights, and have advanced safety features that help prevent accidents in the workplace.
Gravity conveyors allow you to optimize your operations while keeping expenses down. A gravity conveyor consists of different types, including wheels, rollers, or chutes. Conveyor systems that come in multiple standard widths and lengths provide flexibility for almost any workload. Gravity conveyors are available in a wide variety of sizes and materials. Steel is used for permanent installations and aluminum material is utilized when portability is required. Because of their low price tag and ease of installation, gravity conveyors are the more economical solution compared to other types of conveyor systems.
Industries That Can Benefit from Conveyor Systems
Conveyor systems are commonly used in the following industries: mining, automotive, agricultural, computer, electronic, food processing, aerospace, pharmaceutical, chemical, bottling and canning, and printing and packaging. Some of the most common products that use this technology include food items such as beans and nuts, packaging supplies such as bottles and cans, automotive components, scrap metal, pills and powders, wood and furniture, and grain and animal feed.
When deciding which gravity conveyor system to choose to meet your company’s needs, it is important to take into account how the conveyor system will be primarily used. More specifically, you’ll want to consider the specific operations required, the material sizes, weights, and shapes, and the location of the loading and pickup points.
To better understand the different applications of these gravity conveyor systems, let’s explore three types of systems and the items they are best suited for moving, including the specific industries the systems benefit.
Gravity Roller Conveyor Systems
Materials are transported directly on either wheels or rollers. Gravity roller conveyor systems are designed in four different style types: straight, curved, spur, and merge.
Gravity roller conveyor systems are constructed of a series of metal tubes with bearings or rollers mounted on axles and affixed to the conveyor frame. This type of gravity conveyor system is based on a fabricated framework put together in longitudinal sections and slightly inclined. The slope required for gravity movement depends on the load’s weight. The rollers and axles have very low friction, so it takes little gravitational force to rotate the rollers.
The gravity roller conveyor system consists of freely rotating tubular rollers that help the load move under the force of gravity. Roller axles are spring loaded. The spring holds the roller in place. Because of this, they can be moved to one side for easy removal or, if needed, easy replacement of the roller within the frame.
A gravity roller conveyor can be a more expensive option, than say the gravity wheel conveyor, but it can be more effective in handling different types of loads. Most loads with a firm, flat bottom surface can be handled on a gravity conveyor – either on a level-push line or a gravity-pitched line. Push lines require manual assistance from an operator to move the product along whereas the slope is adjusted on pitched lines. This allows for the natural force of gravity to move the product along such that little or no additional assistance is required.
The gravity roller conveyor option is best suited for heavy-duty applications such as for handling loads and items with an uneven or open bottom, or with a rim on the bottom, including wood boxes, wire bins, canisters, strap items, blocks, barrels, drums, cans, and lumber. Industries that can benefit from gravity roller conveyor systems include those that handle distribution and the warehousing of product goods.
Gravity Wheel Conveyor Systems
Gravity wheel conveyor systems are very similar to gravity roller conveyors except that they use individual wheels instead of evenly spaced rollers to move the materials from one location to another. They are constructed of a series of skate wheels mounted on shafts affixed to the conveyor frame that keeps the wheels from moving from side to side. Similar to roller conveyors, wheel conveyors are designed to keep the object in its initial orientation. The difference is that skate wheel conveyors reduce the manual labor required to handle lightweight items over short distances. These systems can be either fixed or designed in a flexible accordion style.
This economical option is ideal for handling lightweight items with smooth, flat bottoms, including boxes, carriers, sheets, flat bundles, crates, cartons, trays, totes, and flat bags. Gravity wheel conveyor systems are used in shipping, receiving, and assembly areas. These conveyor systems can be useful in elaborate configurations and flow systems as well as for smaller, standalone applications.
Industries that can benefit from gravity wheel conveyor systems are those that specialize in handling parcel, food and beverages, and consumable goods. In fact, supermarkets and airports that deal with the final leg of item or bag delivery to customers utilize gravity wheel conveyor systems.
Chute Conveyor Systems
Chutes are the most basic method of gravity conveyance. Chute conveyor systems are constructed of a solid surface of either metal or plastic that is angled downwards. These systems can be either straight or spiral. Chutes resemble a playground slide and use nothing but gravity and a low-friction surface to move the object from one place to another. As the product enters the chute, gravity guides it safely down to the lower level.
Chute conveyors are relatively inexpensive to use and maintain due to their simple design. Chute conveyor systems are used to link two handling devices, provide accumulation in shipping areas, and are used to transmit items between floors. The chute’s design allows for efficient transport without spillage and blockage, preventing materials from becoming jammed in the chute. Different sized packages can be lowered at the same time for added flexibility. In addition, the design allows for minimum chute and belt wear, lowering overall repair costs.
Chute conveyors are used in bulk handling operations such as when moving powders and liquids. These systems are widely used for the transport of both coarse grain material (cereals, mineral ore and coal) and fine powders (such as in chemical and pharmaceutical industries). They are ideal for lightweight products with a variety of package types, including cardboard, pouches, flexible packaging, and corrugated boxes.
We realize there are many options when it comes to gravity conveyor systems, that is why our professional staff is eager to help you with any questions you may have. Contact us today to get the process in motion to add a gravity conveyor system to your operation or to discuss an updated version for your workflow.