In the materials handling industry, managing whole life costs are top of the agenda. Richard Cole of Habasit Rossi explains how the latest advancements in conveying solutions technology can deliver substantial improvements

In order to maximise plant output, the industry requires solutions that are durable, reliable and built to withstand the demands of today’s manufacturing environments where systems are often required to run for 24 hours a day, 365 days per year.

The performance of conveying systems makes a real difference to overall efficiency of materials handling plants and as such, the industry as a whole stands to benefit from some measureable improvements by re-assessing its current systems.

Efficient solutions

Actual belt cost is always going to be an issue for the industry – now more so than ever. However, increasingly the value of reducing whole life costs through reduced maintenance and energy consumption is being recognised. High performance, well specified belts will result in far more efficient production lines and reduce the amount of unplanned production stoppages, minimising losses in productivity and processing wastage.

Using their expert industry specific know-how, application engineers, technicians and joining specialists from the leading manufacturers will supply professional consultation and excellent support when it comes to providing outstanding belting solutions of the highest quality tailored to their specific needs.

There is a vast selection of high performance solutions available, for example, PVC coated fabric belts in a wide rage of surface types, structures and strengths and offering excellent cost-value ratio suitable for ascending, descending and horizontal conveying and merging applications.

Leading providers also offer non-woven belts that are suitable for rough and rugged conditions, as well as power transmission belts which are well proven in live power drive applications and can be tailormade to suit specific needs.

These high efficiency flat and tangential belts are ideal for high power transmission and provide energy savings which can be as much as 6-8% in certain situations because of their flexible bending properties.

Good timing

Designed for use in general conveying and linear movement applications where exact product placement and precise component positioning is required, timing belts can improve efficiency in a broad range of applications including component assembly and pick and place systems.

Leading providers offer timing belts that have been designed for applications where traditional belt options are unable to provide performance synchronisation. Precisely formed teeth with accurate tooth tolerance and robust steel and aramide cords ensure consistent and exact positioning of the product being conveyed.

Ranges are available in both imperial and metric pitches and designed to deliver many years of high quality performance. They are made from thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) and manufactured in open end long lengths, which can be slit to width and cut to length to make exact size belts.

Leading manufacturers also offer a range of profiles for the conveying side of their timing belts to further assist in accurate product movement and placement applications. Added profiles are used in a wide array of applications for precise indexing, sequencing and synchronous movements, separating product movement down the conveyor or processing line.

Tracking guides can be placed on the tooth side of the belt to provide true belt tracking in applications where side loading of the belt is used.

Conveying innovation

The latest generation of plastic modular belts which are used in a wide range of belting applications in materials handling and general conveying have been manufactured with a variety of surface profiles to grip products such as boxes, travel up steep inclines and maintain product orientation.

Leading providers offer plastic modular belts which reduce product damage, downtime and overall maintenance which in turn provide increased belt life and increased throughput.

The all plastic design of these belts promotes long life and superior performance in many applications. Multiple widths are achieved by using a ‘bricklayed’ pattern, which also promotes high lateral and diagonal belt strength and stiffness.

Like most sectors, the UK materials handling industry is facing a real challenge in this economic climate to ensure they stay cost effective and achieve high levels of sustained productivity. Leading belt manufacturers have developed truly innovative products that will ensure production facilities continue to run at optimum efficiency to control costs, minimise downtime and maximise productivity during these challenging times.