Overhead conveyors are material handling equipment used in moving products, parts, packages, foods or equipment from one place inside a facility to another, or through various stages of automated manufacturing or finishing. Used to maximize floor space and save labor expense, overhead conveyors have three main types that are commonly used in manufacturing and distribution: automated electric monorail conveyors, enclosed track overhead conveyors and overhead chain conveyors.
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Overhead Conveyor Design
Overhead chain conveyors have a conveyor frame that can have an enclosed tubular track, I-beam monorail, I-beam twin rail with trolleys or load bars with carriers. These can be powered manually or electrically. Most overhead conveyors have hooks in order to suspend the items being transported and operate on an endless loop for continuous product or material movement. Modern overhead conveyor systems are equipped not only to move parts across horizontal and vertical distances, but also to curve, divert, lift and sort products and packages as part of complete automated systems. These types of advanced conveying processes are done by brushes, magnets, automated levers, rails and even simple gravity.
Types of Overhead Conveyors
Overhead conveyor system tracks can be supported by ceilings, walls or floors using floor stands or racks. Overhead conveyors can be non-powered and driven by either manual or gravitational forces or they can be powered and driven by a load-carrying mechanism such as an electric motor, center drive, air pressure or vacuum. Monorail conveyors have a conveyor frame consisting of an I-beam monorail and trolleys with load bars or carriers that are powered by a power driven chain and are used to move products or materials along the rail. Enclosed track overhead conveyors have a conveyor frame consisting of a tubular enclosed track or "load bars", on which trolleys move products or materials along.
Applications for Overhead Conveyors
Overhead conveyor manufacturers are creating innovative solutions to new manufacturing challenges every day. For instance, packaging industries have designed overhead conveyor systems pre-programmed to sort specific boxes into separate chutes, and in the retail industry, sophisticated, computer-controlled overhead conveyor systems are now being put to use for garment movement. Used for applications such as assembly automation, warehousing, distribution, paint finishing, creative retail designs and complex production, overhead conveyors ensure that the product or material is less likely to get damaged than conventional floor conveyors. Industries that benefit from overhead conveyors include automotive, leather, paper, food processing, garment, pharmaceutical, material handling and industrial manufacturing.