Conveyors for filling and packaging products are usually designed for one product size, with little room for variation. Changes in demand and container sizes pose challenges for operations teams. As manufacturers introduce new products, they typically want to test-run them on existing lines, since it is expensive and challenging to purchase and set up a new conveyor. More product variation means more line changeovers per shift, day or week.
Both the frequency of changeovers and the size of the line can impact how long the conveyor adjustment takes — and how long the line is inactive.
COVID-19 has rapidly changed the buying habits of consumers. With more people staying home, the demands for cans, bottles and containers have increased. All of this means that faster changeovers — with proper social distancing practices implemented — are more critical than ever. Companies can benefit from the speed and safety of these changeovers, especially to increase product output and conveyor line efficiency.
System Plast® SpeedSet™ bracket
Cost of Improper Guide Rail Adjustment
A plant crew needs to be able to quickly and repeatedly adjust their railings for proper product handling. This often requires manually adjusting the guide rails. The maintenance team must loosen the hardware, adjust the rail position, measure for the proper clearance, re-tighten the hardware, and repeat this process with each bracket. The larger the line, the longer it takes. These manual setups rely on the individual to accurately measure the clearance, but this process introduces the risk of human error.
It’s not a tired cliché to say time is money. Each minute down for a changeover means lost production revenue and incurring the cost of needed labor. If the guide rails are not adjusted properly, packages or bottles can fall over and break. These damaged containers may result in product loss and compromised sanitation.
Guide Rail Adjustment Options
Some guide rail options include adjustable brackets that utilize a mechanical system, such as a rotating wheel or crank. This setup moves the brackets at the same time. Although this option is repeatable, it can be expensive and difficult to retrofit on an existing line.
Pneumatic systems are another option. These systems do not require tools to adjust the rails, and curved and straight sections can be moved simultaneously. However, these options come with significant upfront costs and require highly skilled mechanics in order to maintain them. They are also difficult to retrofit.
But Regal offers a third solution, one that eliminates the need for tools and allows for repeatable adjustments. Regal’s System Plast® SpeedSet™ bracket solution is easy to retrofit on existing lines. The design’s spring cartridge assembly is installed into a bracket which attaches to the conveyor line. These brackets are fitted with spacers to hold multiple guide rail positions. This configuration drastically reduces the time to adjust the guide rails: simply slide in the spacer for quick and consistent adjustments.
Standard Adjustable Brackets
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With the use of SpeedSet brackets, Regal recently helped a beverage production facility decrease its changeover time. The production line, which was filling 800 containers per minute, needed to accommodate three different container sizes three times per week. It had been taking two workers nine hours each week to perform the changeovers.
As a result of switching to SpeedSet brackets, the plant saw an uptime increase of 10% and a reduction in changeover time per week from 9 to 1.5 hours. Their calculated efficiency improvement enabled increased production, which equated to $1.7M more revenue annually, along with reductions in labor costs and product loss.
Know Your Options
As straightforward as a guide rail change may seem, options must be weighed. A facility that has the right technology in place to maximize changeover efficiency can realize time and money savings and improve productivity, all of which are increasingly important in these unique times.
For more information on the SpeedSet adjustment system, please click here.