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CCL Conveyors - What is conveyor production automation?

Updated: Dec 2, 2022

Conveyor production automation can mean many, many different things, so let's start at the beginning with an overview of automation.

Automation is about attempting to remove the human element from a process, introducing technology into a system to produce a service, product, or environment where human interaction is minimized. A great modern-day example is 'contactless' payments. This has removed and changed human interaction on both sides of the transaction, but especially for the consumer in that you no longer need to enter a PIN, you can simply wave your card in a shop, or environment, and the billing side of the transaction is taken care of.

Another classic example is that of the production line, that was championed by the Ford Motor Company. Moving a car along a line whereby it is assembled at different stages, rather than attempting to build it all in one place, significantly reduced human interaction and effort in the process.

What are the benefits of automation? In its widest sense automation can improve economies, create businesses and scale up manufacturing processes. On a lower level, automation helps by solving problems, reducing injury, and freeing up humans to be able to spend their time in other ways. It can also reduce errors and improve quality control.

Automation will often make a process quicker and more efficient. It also helps with labor costs and safety. One thing that is also overlooked is the opportunity to twin automation within manufacturing to data collection streams. Collecting data on output, speed, etc eventually becomes useful in terms of data manipulation to see trends and opportunities for improvement across the board.

With all this being said then, conveyor automation is when the conveyor system has modules added or is designed (at its core) to have processes that require little if any human intervention.

How can automation be implemented into a conveyor system? what are common user cases?

The moving of products (large and small ) can be an automated process, so they are a great solution for companies that have a lot of products and need to move them around a warehouse for example.

Conveyor systems can also be used to sort items, which is very helpful for companies that need to organize their inventory. With conveyor systems, items can be sorted by size, shape, weight, or color.

Products can be automatically palletized and packed. Food and drink are often automatically passed through a conveyor system to be sized, cleaned, packed, and placed onto pallets ready for onward distribution.

So what type of projects have we been involved with where conveyor automation is required? the answer is that most of our medium and larger projects have fairly significant requirements in terms of automation but a couple of recent projects spring to mind where automation was key to their success:

One of the key requirements of a recent project was the need to diminish human error and increase production in the sorting of books. Central Conveyors Ltd introduced an automated sortation system that is connected to inventory management and an AI camera recognition system. The margin for error in sorting books at volume was set at a very high level. This system had to cope with lots of books coming along a conveyor system, ensuring that they were understood by the system and then sorted according to that understanding. The testing and implementation of this system were as important as the actual design.

Central Conveyors Ltd was also involved recently in a project for a brewing company. Automation occurred via the conveyor system at various stages of the brewing process. From the creation of the drink to the cleaning and removal of barrels from the line, CCL worked very closely with the customer to ensure a smooth, productive and fully automated process was in place.

As mentioned before, it is very common for us to be involved in designing and building problem-solving systems that require automation. We often find that bespoke off-the-shelf components just don't exist, which means we regularly have to design and implement solutions from scratch. That gives us a certain experience that is hard to find in our industry, both the capacity to solve the problem, and also the 'know-how' regarding the design, build, and installation of the said solution.

Central Conveyors Ltd have all the experience and knowledge regarding conveyor automation that you could ask for, so if you are looking to solve a problem that requires automation, get in touch. We look forward to chatting through the possibilities with you.

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