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August 19, 2016

Floor space is a valuable asset in any business operation, whether brick-and-mortar retail or automated factory. After all, the business either paid to purchase structure in which it operates or is paying rent for it. Thus, it is poor practice to waste floor space, no matter what kind of business is using it.

When a conveyor system is part of a fully automated manufacturing, food production, or other operation where items must be moved efficiently, optimizing the utilization of floor space is especially important. Of particular concern in many conveyor system designs is the requirement to move items through a 90- or 180-degree turn, an element that can significantly impact floor space usage.

The best solution in many applications where such a turn is necessary is a zero-tangent radius conveyor section. In this context, “zero tangent” means there are no straight sections of the conveyor element, only a curved portion. In some applications, products exiting one process step or factory location are arrayed across the width of the belt and must maintain a specific orientation in order to be properly handled at the next process step or location. For straight conveyor sections this is not an issue, but can be problematic when turns are required.

An example of how a zero-tangent element can solve the combined challenges of maintaining product orientation through a 90-degree turn while minimizing floor-space usage is a project that BMI undertook for a pita bakery. As the pitas were produced, they exited the oven elevated above the plant floor in a six-across, staggered pattern; it was critical to the packaging process that they were received in the same orientation. BMI installed an Intralox® zero-tangent radius section at the oven discharge, feeding into a straight-running decline conveyor, delivering the product to another Intralox zero-tangent 90-degree section. The rather unusual product spacing and orientation were maintained, satisfying the requirements for the packaging process.

BMI chose the Intralox zero-tangent 90-degree belt because of the modular construction. Modular belting handles heavier loaders at higher speed due to it’s positive drive system. Ease of maintenance is also a clear benefit, as belts can be removed for sanitation within minutes. Even though fabric zero-tangent curves have been in service for years, they eat up more floor space and are labor-intensive when scheduled or non-scheduled maintenance is required.

BMI also offers zero-tangent radius disc conveyors used for installations where, for example, hot pans with irregular bottoms exit an oven and orientation must be maintained. Here, a series of discs of increasing diameter are arranged in such a manner as to facilitate the movement of the product through a 90-degree turn. These disc conveyors are available in varying widths and in 180-degree versions.

All conveyors are powered by motors connected to quick disconnects or, if required, by variable-frequency drives (VFDs), which in turn are controlled by a Rockwell PLC programmed by BMI. BMI’s experience with leading-edge technology, and for this project, its long-established, specialized knowledge of the requirements, produced a system that met the customer’s requirements perfectly but far exceeded expectations in terms of flexibility and reliability. To learn more about Benda Manufacturing, please contact us today.

Todd Frandsen, operations manager at BMI, has great praise for the Intralox zero-tangent radius conveyors. “They are well-suited to moving products while saving floor space in a broad range of applications across many industries, from cartons of greeting cards to fruit-filled Danish pastries. Because we use the most advanced and reliable conveyor elements, BMI is ready to help customers in any industry meet the most challenging conveyor requirements.”


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