Conveyor Modularity: Many companies are staking the claim of conveyor modularity. What exactly is a modular conveyor? Typically it means a conveyor that is built from standard components, commonly referred to as modules. Because the conveyors are built from stock components, they can be built cost effectively, quickly and boast short lead times potentially enabling a complete line to be ready and running in days rather than weeks.
Although it appears that the industry has addressed the issue of costly systems and short lead times, most conveyors touted as “modular” have not technologically advanced to current industry needs.
Taking an analogy, if someone owns a “modular” home and decides a few months or even a year down the road that they want the bathroom on the other side of the house, or want to expand the kitchen, they can’t just snap in a module and rearrange their home. In a similar way, most conveyor systems that are labeled “modular” require some type of extensive construction or deconstruction that can entail cutting and welding—and what’s to be done with parts that are cut away? They simply become very expensive waste as they cannot be used again. This is even true when only small changes are made, such as adding a corner or changing an angle.
Some of the conveyors claiming conveyor modularity available today can be taken apart and reconfigured, but never to be longer than their current length. Unfortunately there is always waste. Pieces of the conveyor that have been cut off with a saw can not be used again and is considered waste. Most belts are normally made in fixed lengths, and may or may not have the potential of being altered. Even when these conveyors are reconfigured, for the most part, they never go back together the same way again, necessitating the ordering of whole new systems.
To remain competitive in today’s tough markets, manufacturers should be ensured that their modular conveyors can efficiently and effectively change configuration without changing the integrity of their conveyor system.
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