Choosing a Conveyor

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Conveyors for Finishing Systems

The selection of a conveyor for your powder coating system or liquid paint system at your manufacturing plant should be based on the features and benefits of each of the conveyors, part and process requirements, as well as your business goals.

There are three types of automated overhead conveyors typically used in finishing systems:

  • Monorail conveyors
  • Power and Free conveyors
  • IntelliFinishing conveyors

The layout should be configured to move parts from the loading point in the fabrication area through the finishing system to the unloading point in the assembly or shipping area. The goal is to minimize wasted movement, damage to the parts and personnel while providing the desired finished quality.

Monorail Conveyor Description

Overhead Monorail Conveyor
A monorail conveyor is simple and efficient but lacks flexibility.

Overhead monorail conveyors have the load-carrying and the drive functions combined in one element—the endless chain. The chain is guided by a rail system based on either an I-beam or an enclosed track. A take-up unit ensures that the chain is pulled tight as it leaves the drive unit. A caterpillar drive or sprocket drives the chain. Parts are suspended from the chain by special attachments or load bars. This conveyor can follow only one path. No other paths or spurs for masking, maintenance, labeling, loading or unloading are typically part of a monorail conveyor system.

Advantages: simple, efficient, low initial cost, best used for a single type of part and process

Disadvantages: no layout flexibility for part variety or process changes, any line stop or breakdown stops entire conveyor, no ability to stop for a process (masking, touch-up, labeling) without stopping entire conveyor, chain maintenance, take-up unit adjustment and monitoring, lubrication can cause issues with the quality of the parts, noisy

Video:
Monorail Conveyor

Power and Free Conveyor Description

Picture of power and free
Power & Free conveyors use a two-rail system and pusher dogs to allow for more flexibility than a monorail system.

Overhead power and free conveyors are two-rail systems. The trolley is the load-carrying element and is located below the chain. The trolleys use the lower “free rail” and the chains are in the upper “power rail.” Pusher dogs establish the connection between chain and trolley and can be engaged (dogging and de-dogging) and disengaged as needed. The “free rail” can be equipped with switches, lifting stations or stops to allow the trolleys to follow different paths, or be lifted or lowered, stopped or moved at different speeds throughout the system. The entire conveyor system is PLC-controlled.

Advantages: flexible layouts for variety of parts and processes, stop and start, multiple speeds, reduction in personnel since parts may be stopped, trolleys can be buffered, part tracking, integration to ERP, process recipes

Disadvantages: higher initial cost than monorail conveyor, any line stops or breakdowns stop entire conveyor, more layout options require more chain, return chain, speed changes require multiple chains and drive motors, chain maintenance, take-up unit adjustment and monitoring, lubrication can cause quality problems, part swing since there is no accelerate or decelerate, no ability to reverse direction reduces layout options, no ability to reverse when there are problems requires complete chain to be stopped, noisy

Videos:
Dog Magic Chain Conveyor (Daifuku North America)
Power & Free Conveyors (Daifuku Webb)

IntelliFinishing Conveyor Description

IntelliFInishing Spinning Tube Friction Drive Conveyor
An IntelliFinishing conveyor system provides ultimate flexibility using a spinning tube friction drive requiring no chain.

The IntelliFinishing conveyor provides even greater flexibility than power and free because the movement of the trolley is performed with a spinning tube by a small motor. Each section or zone of an IntelliFinishing conveyor may be independently controlled with a variable frequency drive (VFD) and the entire system is PLC-controlled. Data handling and smart controls with recipes for a variety of parts provide even greater flexibility and automation. With “no chain”, driving the system, many of the issues like maintenance, noise, chain jams, take-up problems, lubrication ruining finished parts, de-dogging, floor space for return chain, etc. are not an issue for an IntelliFinishing automated finishing system. The trolley (propelled by the spinning tube) moves forward and reverse which provides more layout options and decreases production stoppage and downtime when compared to power and free conveyor system.

Advantages: flexible layouts for a variety of parts and processes, stop and start, multiple speeds, can stop individual motor sections independent of each other allowing remainder of conveyor system to run, reduction in personnel since parts may be stopped, trolleys can be buffered, part tracking, integration to ERP, process recipes, accelerate, decelerate, reverse, minimal maintenance and no chain lubrication, reduction in floor space, lower energy and resources since processes run only when a part is present, expandable, modular and moveable, more adaptable for lean manufacturing

Disadvantages: higher initial cost than monorail conveyor, more options may cause increase in costs because of drives and motors, limitations on inclines and declines, larger elevation changes require lift sections

Videos:
IntelliFinishing System Overview
IntelliFinishing Shuttle for Large Parts
IntelliFinishing Paint System at Raytheon

 Advantages of Overhead Conveyors

Monorail

  • simple
  • efficient
  • low initial cost
  • best for single part/process
Power & Free

  • flexible layouts
  • stop & start
  • multiple speeds
  • buffering
  • part tracking
  • integration to ERP
  • process recipes
IntelliFinishing

  • flexible layouts
  • stop & start
  • multiple speeds
  • buffering
  • stop sections without stopping whole line
  • part tracking
  • integration to ERP
  • process recipes
  • accelerate
  • decelerate
  • reverse
  • minimal maintenance
  • no lubrication
  • reduction in floor space
  • expandable
  • modular
  • moveable

Disadvantages of Overhead Conveyors

Monorail

  • no layout flexibility
  • chain maintenance
  • take-up adjustment
  • lubrication
  • noisy
Power & Free

  • higher initial cost (vs. monorail)
  • chain maintenance
  • take-up adjustment
  • lubrication
  • noisy
  • more layout options require more chain
  • return chain
  • part swing
IntelliFinishing

  • higher initial cost (vs. monorail)
  • limitation on incline & decline

Old Technology. New Technology.

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New vs Old
Why use 40-year-old technology in your new paint system?

Why Use Old Technology on a New Finishing System?

Are you still using old technology when painting parts? We invite you to take a look at some of the new technology that is out there and apply the benefits it can bring to your particular situation!

Visit www.intellifinishing.com where you can take a look at what new technology has to offer when you require a turnkey liquid paint system, powder coating system or an automated paint system.

Alternative to Power and Free Conveyor

IntelliFinishing Complete Paint Systems are an exciting alternative to power and free systems.

We want to share with you a few of the advantages you can expect when replacing your traditional power and free or monorail systems with the newest technology for industrial paint system replacement.

Floor Space Savings

One of the benefits that our customers and potential customers talk a lot about is the amount of floor space that can be saved. In some cases, as much as 43%. By eliminating bulb turns, shuttles used in new technology can decrease your footprint exponentially, which can add up to thousands of dollars of savings. If you are processing large parts, our shuttle demo should move to the top of your “to-do list” right now.

No Chain

picture of IntelliFinishing conveyor
Conveyor is propelled with spinning tube – no chain

Our industrial paint systems are “chain free”. (They are also awesome). No chain means no extra space is needed for the return chain as in a power & free system. Awesome because, your footprint just got smaller again!

On this same note, no chain means the ability to reverse – AND – no messy oil dripping on your parts or collecting dust.

Virtually Noiseless

Another cost-saving benefit, especially for large manufacturing companies, could come in the form of dollars spent supplying employees with hearing protection. One of our customer’s finishing systems is less than 75db, which resulted in the removal of employees from a hearing conservation program. Being a “no chain” system means no dogs or buffer zones, and that equates to: no metal carriers crashing into each other, further reducing noise.

Variable Speeds

A turnkey powder coating system provided by IntelliFinishing makes part sway a thing of the past! New technology with variable frequency drives (VFD) controls the conveyor’s motion, and Smart Controls allow for variable speeds and independently controlled zones for different recipes. New technology gives you the ability to monitor and track parts at ANY point in the system. (Seriously, you need to take a look at one of our demos of an automated powder coating system).

Layout Options

Our switches provide layout options just like the old technology, but additionally, a switch in a complete finishing system provided by IntelliFinishing can be used to deadhead, providing even more layout processing options. (Have you picked up the phone to schedule a demo yet?)

Energy Savings

With the new technology used in an IntelliFinishing complete finishing system, the conveyor runs only when the carrier is present. Additionally, the supporting process equipment, like a washer, also only runs when a part is present.

Modular and Expandable

We all intend for our business to grow. Will your “old” technology grow with you? Our “new” technology will. The modular design of an IntelliFinishing system allows for easily expandable floor plan. As your company grows, your production levels change. Our turnkey finishing systems grow with you and additional processes or applications can be installed quickly. Call us.

Tour an Active Construction Site

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Kevin Howe, IntelliFinishing Project Manager

IFconstruction

Kevin just finished the setup on IntelliFinishing’s latest project installation. During the construction process he took us on a brief tour. It was an active construction site so the system wasn’t running yet. View the tour video >>

The IntelliFinishing system starts with a lift, which is basically an elevator-style, drop section. The orange pieces of the conveyor will come down to a lower height making it more ergonomic for connecting the parts to the carrier. Then it will rise back up after the part information is loaded and send the carrier into the system.

The control stations will have a touch screen monitor that will display different part information.

The uninstalled load bars are the mechanical pieces that support picture frame style hangers that will in turn support the customer parts. The metal trolleys are the load trolleys that support the weight of the entire piece. The rubber wheels on the top contact our spinning tube and provide the propulsion for the conveyer system. It is a friction setup with a spring tension pressing against the tube. The IntelliFinishing system is unique as it goes forward and reverse directions. This typical configuration is capable of supporting 3,000 pounds, including the weight of the load bar.

From the elevator-style lift section we proceed downstream towards a manual wash booth area. In this instance, we’re interfacing to a customer provided wash booth. We are going to control the doors that will slide open and closed pneumatically. Internally the wash booth will be similar to a manual car wash bay. The operator will select a cleaner rinse, a phosphate rinse and a sealer to keep the parts from flash rusting.

From the wash bay we head to the small drip zone. Currently this is a manual pull through section, which the customer requested for Phase 1. In Phase 2 we will add an automated wash parallel to this section. At that time most of the parts will go through the automated wash so in the future, less volume will run on the pull through section.

Parts will then be pulled to the first motorized section after the wash booth to air blow off. The air blow off is also similar to a car wash system with nozzles and large, electrically powered air blowers. The nozzles will be directed at the parts to dry off any of the residual water.

After the blow off area is a dry off oven. This oven is a little smaller, holding one carrier at a time. The oven is used to help boil off any leftover residual water that was not taken care of in the air blow off stage. It also helps to preheat the part, getting it ready prior to powder coating.

We head out of the dry off oven and around the corner to the powder coat booth. This is a manually applied powder station at this time. They will have several operators, one on each side, applying the powder coat to the parts. Monitors will also let the operators know what color they are supposed to be painting and what is coming up next.

The last station is the cure oven. This is a 450° powder oven. It has 3 motor stations and will be able to hold 3-4 carriers worth of parts at a time. When the units are finished curing, they come out to a several storage areas to give them time to cool.

Since our system is an oval it then brings us back to the beginning. This is the backside of the lift elevator section we saw at the start.

View the construction tour video >>

Using Big Data To Track Your Parts

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When it comes to capturing big data to track and market your future business, Konnection software allows you to use a variety of collected data from your plant floor to make decisions for your business. Imagine being able to use PLC, equipment, process and ERP/MRP data to see past trends and analyze root cause and energy use over your entire process.

Production data is key to making sure your system is efficient and profitable. Konnection software turns your data into easy to read graphs detailing the information you have in a reviewable database created by your real-time production. This allows you to monitor production like never before. Recognize trends, view your total number of jobs and carriers, maximize shift productivity and track unproductive aspects of your floor.

Process tracking allows your company to ensure quality of your work and provides your operators detailed work instructions, the ability to compare shift reports and closely monitor energy and resource usage. Ensure that your parts went through the finishing system in the same amount of time every time. Use our software to check coating times, or when carriers entered and exited the system. With this information you can answer questions about what’s happening at every point in your process. With Konnection software, you’ll know everything about the process — even down to if your operator held or released the carrier within the allotted time.

systemreport
Production data is key to making sure your system is efficient and profitable. Konnection software turns your data into easy to read graphs detailing the information you have in a reviewable database created by your real-time production.

Tracking your parts is essential to making sure you are getting the most out of your process, and ultimately your business. With this level of system reporting, you can easily locate parts in the finishing system, and have their data accessible at a later date via serial numbers. An overview screen gives a visual representation of your stations and are color coded for quick detection for status review. You can see what is loaded on each carrier, where that carrier is in your system and then quickly export the selected data via spreadsheets or .csv files. Data can also be filtered by any field, allowing you to look at the production of a single part over a month or at all parts produced in a day.

Our Konnection software connects to your factory floor to your upper level software like SAP and your ERP seamlessly with the format of the data translated to read E-Net, DeviceNet, ProfiBus, ModBus, Serial and many more. The core of our software is SQL server that utilizes redundant servers, and is capable of using your existing hardware. This web-based software is visible from mobile devices and can even send text messages and alarms fault to the screens.

For more information on how you can maximize your plant floor, contact IntelliFinishing with your request for Konnection software.

A Plan for Every Part

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A Plan for Every Part©

Ever wish you had a different finishing line for every type of part you have to paint or powder coat? Large heavy parts take more time to process than small thin ones. Some parts require additional masking and others don’t. Different chemistry is required for different types of metals… the list seems to be endless.

IntelliFinishing has presented to a variety of audiences recently and manufacturers are impressed with the “Plan for Every Part©” technology. Each item you process gets the best finish available, just like the system was built specifically for that part.

Unlike traditional finishing systems where the system is built for your longest or heaviest part, which results in over-baking of other parts; the IntelliFinishing finishing system provides capabilities that are unmatched in the finishing industry.

With conveyors that move load bars of parts at varying speeds which are based on the parts’ unique size and material, an IntelliFinishing system offers capabilities in ONE LINE that would take MULTIPLE LINES for traditional systems. Customers have been amazed at what can be accomplished with layouts that are not limited by a one-way, one-speed conveyor.

The IntelliFinishing system is not for everyone.

  • Do you finish a variety of sizes of parts?
  • Do you finish parts that are made from different materials?
  • Do your processes for finishing ever change?

If you answered YES to any of the above questions, then you may want to see how an IntelliFinishing system is rocking the world of finishing. Contact us at info@intellifinishing.com.