Welcome to Nercon’s on-demand webinar: How to Reduce Changeover Time with Conveyor TechnologySpecial thanks go the Mike Weickert, Dan Mentzel and Dennis Buehring for their help and expertise in developing this material. They have 60 years of combined experience in conveying applications, automation and controls. And I’m your host Jessica Jacobson and I develop communications programs like these for Nercon Eng. & Mfg., Inc.
Here’s our AGENDA today. First, I’m going to go over a few manual and tool – less, low cost initial investment options for changeover.
I’ll be taking a look at manual options that provide adjustments for zones and when they are best utilized.
I have a number of examples to look at for both pneumatic and electric automated rail systems.
I’m going to talk about accessibility and equipment or process solutions that need to be considered so personnel can access all areas for changeover to make the process as efficient as possible.
I’ll discuss when and where each type of technology can be leveraged on a packaging line.
As we present the different technologies, I’ll refer to a layout with recommendations on the types of solutions that can really leveraged for different production scenarios.
I also have a comparison matrix that analyzes the number of man hours to make adjustments with the progressive technology options that you can use as a guide to choose solutions.I’ll also review the questions from previous live and archived events.
On each technology examples, I’m going to refer to the criteria chart that will appear on the right of every slide.First, bracket pricing is highlighted – this is based off of 100 feet of straight conveyor for easier comparisons.The criteria is the purchase price is in 3 bracket ranges: less than $5,000$5000 - $15,000And over $15,000 – that’s the purchase cost above the cost of the conveyors
Details are included on the man hours needed to make the changeover on the different solutions.So again for the sake of easier comparisons, the example is 100 feet of straight conveyor example.Our criteria is a few seconds – which might be one person pressing a recipe button on an HMI for an automated solutionsA moderate solution would be less than 30 minutes.And there are some solutions that will take over 30 minutes total and may require a couple of technical personnel to keep that time to a minimum.Just look for the PLUS SIGNS on the chart, the more pluses – the more time.
Also, how adaptable is that particular solution? Can it be modified fairly easily when marketing adds another product shape or size? And what is involved to make that solution adaptable to another product? I have just a check mark for YES or NO
And I’ll also talk about the level of controls required for each solution. And of course we have manual solutions as well as automated solutions to talk about today, some solutions do not require any controls.So let’s get started now with manual solutions.
The first changeover level is a guide rail system upgrade to tool-less brackets. The quick set with hand knob on the left and the ratchet handle are manual examples that allow one-point-at-a –time adjustment.To review the criteria chart: This is a low cost solution, but can add up to a lot of time to changeover a large packaging line. It is infinitely adjustable so it is adaptable, and there are no controls necessary.What is a best practice for tool-les brackets?Generally, when you have floor level conveyance where there is easy access to the change points. These types of tool-less systems are a good choice for smaller systems or systems that do not require multiple changes per shift.
Now…there are combined solutions that shave-off a little more time and improves accuracy like these ratchet handles that are integrated with a ruler guide – still a low cost solution and at least the measuring time is reduced for this very adaptable option.There are so many solutions in tool less brackets. The best way to figure out the proper solution is to look at all of the products being run on the system & find the best grouping of products to minimize the need for adjustments. Sometimes it’s wise to involve the operators or floor personnel on their input.
Moving on to next level of brackets and guide rail systems, these have the ability to adjust entire zones at the same time. These are either / or examples with a Min/Max example on the left and a pin-in-place example on the right.On the chart, the pricing for this solution in a 100 feet is under $5000. And man hours are moderate because there are more set-points per adjustment and no measuring, so there is some time savings there.Here’s how the Min / Max systems works:This system has a simple quick adjustment for (2) set positions. An operator simply pulls a pin or loosens a ratchet handle to adjust. There are only (2) set positions, but these are designed to any setting based on the customer’s needs.This is not a highly adaptable system. If the product is similar in size and shape it may work with the system, but introducing an entirely new size of product or package outside the original scope might require a new or modified mechanicalsolution.
Another type of zoned system are UHMW drop-in rail systems. The example on the left shows a drop-in system through a turn, and on the right the photo shows a serpentine table using a drop-in system also on the turns and you can see that change – out rail storage was planned into the design of the serpentine table.Reviewing the criteria chart, these solutions are going to be over $5000 per 100 feet. But this solution is often used in combination with other solutions and man hours are moderate because the technicians may need to retrieve the rails from storage.One of the biggest benefits from the “drop in” rails is the extremely close tolerance that you can hold with the CNC machined parts. When these parts are machined and assembled in a fixture, you’ll have repeatable guide rail openings to within a few thousands of an inch.
Yet another type of manual guide rail changeover solution is a simple flip - in rail. In our chart, there is some expense involved in engineering so I’ve indicated over $5000. Moderate man hours are checked because of the time to walk around the system. And the system is not adaptable, it is an either / or guide rail option with no controls.For best uses…Flip in rail systems can be used on both floor level and elevated conveyors. This type of rail system is often seen on case conveyors or “larger product” conveyors. Special consideration needs to be taken on elevated conveyors to ensure the rails do not interfere with other structures like conduits, air and water piping, when flipping the rails in and out of position.
Continuing with options in a progressive sequence - this next guide rail system uses a hand wheel adjustment integrated with a digital counter. The chart indicates a cost of over $5000 for 100 feet of conveyors, but very few man hours, very adaptable and there are no controls necessary on this type is system.Here’s how it works:One hand-wheel can adjust one side or both sides of the rail about the conveyor centerline. The rail is adjustable from one side only if that is preferred, or a requirement for a specific need.The hand wheel is located at a convenient location for the operators to access.Infinite set point adjustments refers to any location within the min & max guide rail adjustment openings on the system.
In this photo is a typical turn; turns can be challenging.In this example Nercon isutilizing a gear rack & line shaft for guide rail adjustment. We use the turnbuckles to make the shafts go around a corner. As you turn the hand wheel, the line shaft spins, causing the gear racks to move the rails in & out.The trick to any turn guide rail adjustment is making the rail opening adjust through the center of the turn. In making this happen, the ends adjust at a different rate. This creates extra challenges to make the products transition properly entering & exiting the turns.
Here’s another example of a manual hand-wheel adjustable system for exact placement of the rail using a dial indicator. There is moderate cost involved in these types of system, and it uses relatively few man hours to adjust because you can adjust several points at once. It is also very adaptable to future product sizes. And, there are no controls.In a multi-lane system…Each lane will adjust the same amount throughout the entire adjustment zone. That way you can change all of the rail openings on a multilane system in a very brief time allowing for a quick change to a new product or size.This adjustment can be made through one set point. Once again Nercon locates the set point at an easily accessible operator access location.
This is an example of a layout using manual guide rail solutions and I’ll go over some changeover recommendations in the following slides.This is a conceptual layout of a very typical bottle filling line. The line starts with a bulk de-palletizer that delivers a single file stream of empty bottles to a gripper lowerator. The gripper lowerator delivers the empty product as it brings it down to a working floor elevation. The product is then filled, capped, labeled and delivered to a case packer. This case packer has a multiple lane in-feed so it requires a 1 to 4 divert gate.
Let’s break this layout down to smaller areas and discuss in greater detail.In this example, the bulk depalletizer’s discharge which conveys the bulk product away, is a wide bulk handling conveyor. These areas typically work for a wide range of product sizes and shapes without any guide rail changeovers, which is the case in this example.
The next area for us to look into is from the single filer discharge up to the gripper lowerator. Here the product is overhead and traveling in a single file pattern and will require rather independent settings for each product size. Since the product is still overhead, Nercon recommends a hand wheel adjustable solution to lower the overall time it takes to changeover between your different product sizes. The hand wheel adjustable rail is a great option for overhead conveyor. The actual hand wheel can be mounted at a elevation that is safe and convenient for workers to reach from the floor.
Now when the layout is on the floor level, there is a single lane conveyor that runs from the lowerator to the diverter. Again here the product is in a single filer pattern and will require unique settings for each product. At floor level, this will allow for a few more options for the operators to choose from. Typically we see the use of adjustable brackets with either the ratchet handles with or without the measuring indicators, or the Quick Set brackets. All three of these options allow for a quicker but a very accurate range of settings.
The last area is the case packer infeed conveyor. This four lane system can be adjusted with ratchet handles and the system can be integrated with a ruler guide to eliminate measuring between the different product sizes.I’ll review another layout with automated and multi-zone options after the next segment.
In our live event, we had a poll and some good questions from the audience.Are drop-in rails typically utilized only in turns?Yes we typically use drop in rails in turns, we can however use them in straight running sections. They can be used for product requiring a finer, more precise, quickly repeatable rail opening. Or also for prodcuts requiring special handling needs, such as small vials.Can you use any type of guide rail with the manual solutions?Yes, in fact, in both manual and automated solutions almost any type of rail can be used to guide the product. The application environment often determines the rail type used based more on what physically fits in the space available.Which manual option has the most repeatable adjustment range?The drop in rail systems would be one of the most repeatable. But a dial indicator on the hand wheel option would not only allow quick guide rail changes, but also very accurate settings as well.
Next, we’re going to talk briefly about accessibility. Here is a picture of a gate lift. If you have a manual system, you might need to plan accessibility for technicians to get inside the conveyor system loop to provide adjustments.Accessibility is not just limited to personnel. It may include the ability to deliver production materials such as labels or shrink wrap. Accessibility solutions may include moveable conveyor sections with caster wheels, simple walk over stairs or more elaborate solutions with spiral or alpine conveyors that can be designed to elevate products over the fork truck lane.One of our live questions, was can changeover options be added to the lift gate?Yes it can. Nercon often recommends that lift gates have manual adjustment rails because the cost to automate such a short section is not practical.
And keep in mind also if you have overhead manual changeover processes, you may need platforms to allow safe access for personnel.Another couple of questions from our audience: When are platforms required for overhead manual changeover? Do automated guide rail systems reduce the need for platforms or do you still need them?Most ceiling hung conveyor passes over the top of floor conveyor, most production lines typically do not allow for operator access from ladders or scissor lifts, so Nercon often sees catwalks and platforms that allow operators to work through the changeover process. Though very costly, these catwalks and platforms do help in addressing some of the safety issues with having maintenance or operators working from ladders.Not only does automated rail options greatly reduce the need for platforms, the use of automated rails keeps the operator on the floor. It also increases the operators range of view and allows for better lighting.
Let’s take look at our poll results to date. Now whether your company has new products, or needs to make lean manufacturing and personnel changes – There is an underlying consistent theme – and that is to shave-off minutes of down-time for the goal of reaching a healthier or in some cases a very competitive bottom line.So just wanted to share that with the on-demand audience and Now to continue with automated guide rail solutions.
Shown in the photo -- is an automatic vertical drop-in rail that uses air cylinders set for two positions.What are the advantages of automatic rail systems on one side of the conveyor?The most obvious advantage is to reduce changeover capital equipment cost. A single sided automatic guide rail solution can often can serve for a range of package sizes, as long as there is no compelling reason to keep the product centered on the conveyor. You need to keep in mind that single sided systems only offer half of the overall adjustment range compared to dual sided systems. You may require manual or special adjustments on packaging equipment that require product to be centered as they enter on the infeed conveyors. I’ll provide video links at the end of the presentation for many of the changeover solutions.
This is an example of an automatic system with a horizontal push – in, pull - out guide rail system.What are the controls capabilities on these automatic systems?The system shown illustrates a singled side, pneumatically automated rail system, although this system is single sided it was actually capable of running more than 10 different product sizes. The pneumatic adjustment was controlled by the line integration PLC.
There are also dual – sided solutions. While the cost of the initial investment is higher, the man hours are reduced to minutes if not seconds. This example utilizes electric actuated cylinders so it is an adaptable solution and the controls can be more complex since there may be several recipes to program and plan for in this type of line.
The adaptability comes into play depending on the cylinders used.So what are pros and cons of pneumatic and electric cylinders?Air cylinders are less expensive than electric cylinders. However they do require special considerations for use in some environments, such as cold or dirty areas. Common air cylinders only offer a min & max set point, so if you need more then one setting they are not a good choice.Electric cylinders are more precise, offer an infinite set point throughout the entire stroke range. They do have a higher total cost to utilize on an entire system though. These costs can be made up quickly through faster changeovers & less downtime.
Now here are few slides just to talk about the adjustability of some equipment options. Here is a gripper elevator, it is a single product path elevating or lowering solution that uses a neoprene gripper belt. On our previous drawing example, I called it a lowerator because it was lowering products. Nercon often uses that term.Gripper elevators are single point adjustable via a hand wheel and a dial indicator to allow for precise repeatable settings. This allows one person to changeover the entire unit in just a few seconds and with the dial indicator, there is no need for measuring or checking the setting each time.
Case Elevators are also adjustable for changeover - they carry cartons or cases with two parallel flighted chains driven by a brake motor. Case elevators also have hand wheel assemblies that adjust to increase or decrease the case width opening. The case balances on a narrow infeed chain while being fed into the elevator. The infeed conveyor must be adjusted to keep the product centered and contained within the towers. This can be completed by all of the different methods that I have discussed already today.
Mike: Often adjustments may only be required in turns to prevent jamming.
Let’s review the layout example with solutions that provide adjustable zones as well as automation.This example is expanded from our previous layout to include palletizing operations and after the case packer, a case handling line has been added that includes a case elevator that lifts cases to an upper level and continues to the palletizer.
In this layout, the example assumes a much more frequent need for changeover than the previous manual changeover layout example. In the area after the single filer and before the gripper lowerator, the product is overhead and traveling in a single file pattern and will require rather independent settings for each product size. Since the product is still overhead, we can integrate powered drive that can be accessed on the floor level to make quick adjustments.
You could continue with a powered drive and digital indicator system on the floor level as well.The drive is programmed with the preset settings based on the required rail openings.The operator choses the settings required for the next size product being run.Once this setting is chosen, the rail adjusts automatically to the proper chosen opening.
After the diverter, there is a four lane section heading into the case packer and an effective option here is continuing the powered drive solution, but since the example is running the same size product in each lane, all four lanes would be adjusted together with one drive assembly. By doing this the need for multiple drives or multiple set point locations to make the adjustment is eliminated.
Finally the last area is the case packer discharge conveyor through to the palletizing infeed area.These conveyors are now conveying multiple products in a common package. This again, like the bulk product handling allows for several case sizes to be run in a common guide rail opening. Due to the elevation of this case handling line, the recommendation is electric actuated automatic rails.Here are some controls capabilities:
Now, let’s talk about purchase cost of the solution compared to the man hours to make the changeover and the lost production time. Here is the assumptions in the analysis – which is also highlighted in our white paper download available at the end of the presentation:A 100 foot straight conveyor sectionA $30/hour labor rate250 Changeovers per year
Beginning with the baseline (which is all manual adjustment) to fully automatic solutions, Dennis Buehring is going to walk us through his comparison which will includes top-view drawings on each slide to illustrate the set points…
Thank you, Jessica: The baseline calls out manual, slotted brackets with carriage bolts.In 100 feet, there are 108 adjustment points –That’s 60 minutes to changeover and one hour of lost production time.Of course this is the baseline and there has been no changeover upgrades, so there is no cost investment beyond the conveyors.At 250 changeover events per year, the labor costs $7,500 and with 250 hours of lost production time per year.
For Level 1, the upgrade to ratchet handles comes with an additional cost of $1,000.Ratchet handles make the adjustments faster, so we just saved 15 minutes of lost production time per changeover.At 250 changeovers per year, the labor costs are $5,625 and 188 hours of lost production time per year.
Now add pre-measured set points like in the photo. There is no measurement required for guide rails position.Ratchet handles and pre-measured set points make it even easier to adjust guide rails, so we just saved ½ hour of lost production time per changeover compared to the base conveyor.At the same 250 changeover events per year, the labor costs are lowered to $3,750 with 125 hours of lost production time per year.
Now take this same example with ratchet handles and pre-measured set points and keep it to one side of the conveyor.With set points being cut in half, changeover time is reduced to 15 minutes.
On Level 4, theupgrade isa hand wheel with a dial indicator on one side of the conveyor. This option lowers your adjustment points on this example to just three. These 3 points typically are located on one side of the conveyor with dial indicators.Though the hand wheels are all located on the same side of the conveyor, your product remains centered due to the hand wheel being connected via right and left handed threads.The added investment for a this option on hundred feet is about $22,000.But with changeover costs reduced to $625 in labor and only 20 hours of lost production time per year, the Return on Investment is 3 years in this example.
On Level 5, the example is a fully automated system with an operator push button station. The additional investment for a hundred feet is about $27,500.There are only 1 adjustment point –Changeover is 1 minutes.At 250 changeovers per year, the labor costs are reduced to $125 and 4 hours of lost production time per year. The return on investment for this solution is almost 4 years.Now this comparison is only taking labor into account. We don’t know the cost of the product that you forfeit when the line needs to be changed – over; so the payback could be much faster depending on your product.
Here’s a link to “Changeover Technology That Saves Time.”And you can review this analysis on the inside center spread of the publication.
To Recap and at the results in a different way I have this chart that represents costs over 10 years.The red bars represent labor costs and the blue bars represent purchase costs.In every examples, time was taken off the clock. And as you can see from the hand wheel and automatic technology that changeover time is quite minimal.And time is money – it is lost production that really adds up which isn’t on this chart – that’s the part that you need to calculate. If one changeover takes one hour, what is the cost revenue from just one hour of lost production? Take that times the number of changeovers in a day or a year and it is the lost production that adds up.Our ROI examples were based off of labor, but depending on your business, if you use lost revenue in your ROI calculation you might be able to get your ROI from a few years to a few months.
Why wouldn’t you use UHMW drop-in rails?The first disadvantage could very well be the fact of storage. Depending on how many different product sizes there is, you may have to track and find storage for several different fixtures. I typically try to design in an internal rack or portable cart to hold all of the un-used fixtures. This helps in the management of those parts. Another disadvantage might be the weight; some of these fixtures can become too heavy for one person to lift.Why would you use a min / max solution or an either / or setting?If your products are similar enough in size & shape, you can easily run a group of products in a common guide rail opening. This solution would be an excellent choice in this situation, plus you would help minimize the frequency of required changeovers.Is there any downside to using hand wheels?Come line managers say that personnel have to be managed so they don’t move them off the best settings. They have told us they actually remove the hand-wheel after the adjustment has been made.What are the best options for product height changeover on hold-down rails for example?The best option is a simple min/max solution, if the products are close enough in height ranges. If you need more adjustments or a more precise setting, I would recommend adding a hand wheel to this solution. This will then allow for many repeatable set points.How many feet can you adjust at a time with a hand wheel system?If you locate the hand-wheel at the center of the section, you should be able to adjust about 30 feet in each direction – 60 feet overall. There is some variance depending on the number of lanes to be adjusted and the number or turns in the section.
On behalf of Nercon Engineering and Manufacturing and Food Engineering, thank you for attending Nercon’s on-demand presentation.Be sure to visit these links for video footage on Automatic Changeover Guide Rail SystemsThe Changeover White Paper that complements this webinarAnd our website which has many other topics on automation objectives, www.nercon.com.
How to Reduce Changeover Time with Conveyor TechnologyThe Conveyor’s Role inChangeover Processes
Agenda1. Manual – Single Adjustment Changeover2. Manual – Multi-point Adjustment Changeover3. Automatic Rail Systems4. Accessibility Considerations5. Best Practices for selecting different levels of technology
Agenda1. Manual – Single Adjustment Changeover2. Manual – Multi-point Adjustment Changeover3. Automatic Rail Systems4. Accessibility Considerations5. Best Practices for selecting different levels of technology6. Layout Recommendations
Agenda1. Manual – Single Adjustment Changeover2. Manual – Multi-point Adjustment Changeover3. Automatic Rail Systems4. Accessibility Considerations5. Best Practices for selecting different levels of technology6. Layout Recommendations7. Decision Matrix
Criteria CHANGEOVER Initial Cost MAN HOURS □$ □ $$ □ $$$ + Few seconds Man Hours □+ □++++ Moderate – less than ½ hour □+++ Adaptable Many – over ½ hour □ Yes+++ □ No Controls □ None Per 100 / ft. of conveyor □ Simple □ Complex
Manual SolutionsTool – less brackets Initial Cost P □$ □ $$ □ $$$ Man Hours □+ □ ++ P □ +++ Adaptable □ Yes P □ No Controls □ None P □ SimpleQuick Set with Hand Knob Ratchet Handle □ Complex
Manual SolutionsTool – less brackets Initial Cost P □$ □ $$ □ $$$ Man Hours □ + □ ++ P □ +++ Adaptable □ Yes P □ No Controls □ None P □ Simple Ratchet Handle with Ruler Guide □ Complex
Manual SolutionsGuide Rail Systems – Adjustable Zones Initial Cost P □$ □ $$ □ $$$ Man Hours □+ P □ ++ □ +++ Adaptable □ Yes □ No P Controls □ None P □ SimpleMin - Max Pin-in-place system □ Complex
Manual SolutionsGuide Rail Systems – Adjustable Zones Initial Cost □$ P □ $$ □ $$$ Man Hours □ + P □ ++ □ +++ Adaptable □ Yes □ No P ControlsDrop – In Rail Systems □ None P □ Simple □ Complex
Manual SolutionsGuide Rail System – Adjustable Zones Initial Cost □$ P □ $$ □ $$$ Man Hours □+ P □ ++ □ +++ Adaptable □ Yes □ No P Controls □ None P □ Simple □ ComplexFlip – In Rail Systems
Manual SolutionsGuide Rail Systems – Adjustable Zones Initial Cost □$ P □ $$ □ $$$ Man Hours P □+ □ ++ □ +++ Adaptable P □ Yes □ No Controls □ None P □ Simple □ Complex Hand Wheel VideoHand Wheel with Digital Counter
Manual SolutionsGuide Rail Systems – Adjustable Zones Initial Cost □$ P □ $$ □ $$$ Man Hours P □+ □ ++ □ +++ Adaptable P □ Yes □ No Controls □ None P □ Simple □ Complex
Manual SolutionsGuide Rail System – Adjustable Zones Initial Cost □$ P □ $$ □ $$$ Man Hours P □+ □++ □+++ Adaptable P □ Yes □ No Controls P □ None □ Simple □ Complex
Questions? Take our poll. What is your primary reason for researching changeover solutions? 1. Increase in just-in-time production requirements 2. Product line expansion 3. To increase line-efficiencies 4. Lean manufacturing corporate strategy