Non-powered, or gravity conveyor systems have been a staple of materials handling and manufacturing since the early 19th century. But long before that, ancient Egyptians probably used gravity conveyors of some kind to move the stones used to build the pyramids. The Romans used gravity conveyance in the aqueducts that supplied the city with water for over 500 years. Today, we use gravity conveyance to efficiently move materials within a facility. There are several types of non-powered conveyors available; here’s a look at them.
Skatewheel Gravity Conveyor
Skatewheel conveyors are an economical option for moving lightweight cartoons, totes, and trays. These conveyors consist of wheels placed on axels and separated by spacers to keep them from moving from side to side on the axel. The number of wheels on each axle can vary based on the size and weight of the items conveyed, but there should always be a minimum of 10 wheels underneath each item. Because each wheel moves independently, skatewheel is a good choice for curved conveyor sections. It only takes a little energy to turn the wheels of a skatewheel conveyor, so it’s good at maintaining speed as well.
Roller Gravity Conveyor
Probably the most popular, and well as the simplest and easiest to maintain, is the gravity roller conveyor. Roller conveyors are used extensively in distribution, packaging, and manufacturing applications and are commonly used for workstations and pick modules because they provide a better working surface and have greater carrying capacities than skatewheel. They are also usually less expensive than skatewheel conveyors, they are simple to install, and they’re lower maintenance because the spring loaded axles are easy to remove and replace. Other advantages of roller conveyors are: they can be modified with curves, spurs, and gates; they can be used in a variety of environments, and they work well in combination with powered conveyor systems. With level conveyors, items are placed on the conveyor and manually pushed along to the next operation. When placed on the decline, gravity carries the items to the desired location. Rollers conveyors are recommended for uneven, open, or rimmed bottom packages. Make sure the product is not wider than the rollers and have at least three rollers under a product at any given time.
Chute Gravity Conveyor
Similar to a playground slide, conveyor chutes are an economical and simple way to lower products from mezzanines, platforms, overhead conveyor lines, or any multilevel installation. The main limitation of chute conveyors is the lack of control over the items being conveyed – packages may tend to shift and turn causing blockages, but chutes are particularly well suited for bulk handling of things like grain materials such as cereals and coal, and powders used in chemical and pharmaceutical industries. Chutes can be straight or spiraled to conserve space.
Next Level is more than just a pallet rack manufacturer; we are a full-service provider, working directly with logistics managers, engineers, & warehouse employees to determine the best possible solution for any given problem, including the design and installation of gravity and powered conveyor systems and controls. Contact us today to discuss optimization for your facility.