With the world ‘going green’ with adapting various energy-efficient techniques and procedures in everyday lifestyles, the manufacturing industry is also playing its part. Industries consume more than half of the energy consumed by households and therefore, adjusting to energy-efficient ways could be highly effective for the entire world. Smarter ways of running machines can lead to better consumption of energy as well as a greener lifestyle.
Transportation of goods using conveyor systems is considered to be one of the most effective ways of handling and moving materials. They came into existence in the late 18th century and since then, their popularity and importance in every sector are increasing significantly. At the initial stages, the conveyor system was made up of belts of leather running on a roller made up of wood. It was used at ports to ship various types of goods. Numerous iterations in the design have been carried out over time including size compaction. All modern conveyors operate on motors and are made up of more robust belt materials, although the basic design concept of all conveyors is still the same.
Sustainable development and efficiency improvement are playing a massive role in optimizing the design of conveyors rapidly. Today, industries are moving towards energy-efficient operations. Since conveyors are known to create environmental concerns and utilize more than 50% energy of the facility, they are the first targets. The rules and regulations are now in order to conserve energy usage and reduce wastage by designing and fabricating smart conveyors. Internet of things associated with these conveyors are enabling tracking of products on conveyors, efficiency and productivity optimization, and reducing the preventive and breakdown maintenance events; therefore, the complete process-run is smooth and free of wastage whether it is environmental or operational wastage.
Key issue in the energy-efficient handling system is to reduce the value of specific energy consumption (SEC) by increasing the conveyor belt capacity whilst decreasing the belt conveyor motion resistance. Smart Conveyors are designed to perform all of those operations. The first step towards reducing the power consumption is to shut-off the appliance when not in use. While switching off and on continuously is not feasible for an operator, smart conveyors are designed as such to turn off automatically while not operational, so it will not be in an idle state and drawing power simultaneously. This is usually carried out by using sensors that verify if a load (or material) is present on any part of the conveyor or not.
The second step is to only consume energy that is required to carry out a certain operation. While operational, the amount of power a conveyor belt draws is directly associated with certain factors such as how long it has to travel, how far it has to lift a product, and how much that product or an entire batch of products weigh. Smart conveyors do not rely on engineers or mathematicians to perform these calculations, rather it is equipped with a sensor that analyzes the current load on a conveyor and reduces or increases the power consumption accordingly, reducing energy wastage and creating a quicker and streamlined process. In addition, for assembly lines, the sensor also tends to provide more energy to the section of the conveyor system being used and minimizing energy at the other sections that may not be functional at all times.
Smart Conveyors not only manage energy consumption but also play a significant role in other related factors. Due to a large number of conveyors, the expenditure can be unacceptably enormous, and return on investments can be problematic. In addition to the direct cost such as initial investment and operational cost, indirect costs such as maintenance and overhead are also involved. Because simple conveyors need frequent maintenance and when they are poorly maintained, it results in wear and tear and spiked up power consumption. Besides this, negligence of proper maintenance also results in frequent breakdowns which require an investment of energy, time, and efforts to troubleshoot the belts. Smart conveyors, use the internet of things to monitor the predictive maintenance schedule and maintain the periodical servicing so the breakdown maintenance and even preventive maintenance can be reduced to a negligible level.
Personalization and customization have also become actively possible with smart conveyor systems. Smart conveyors, alongside automation, provide highly flexible and faster ways of connectivity in stations making it possible to change programming in real time, which can not be humanly possible. These conveyors are suitable for varied product packaging, like gift packs and assorted snack packs, as well as assembly lines in heavy industries.
Smart conveyors are changing the outlook of industrial operations. They are designed with a minimum number of drivers increasing the number of straight runs. With the reduction in cost, energy consumption, maintenance cost, and carbon footprint, smart conveyors are the best companions to your industrial operations and also a better fit for a green environment.