The beverage industry is looking for operating flexibility, faster throughput and high reliability. Many plants operate 24/7 with very little allowance for downtime. After all, a down line means a loss of production.
Spiral Conveyors transport products vertically and satisfy all the above-mentioned needs. Vertical Spiral Conveyors come in two basic versions, the Unit Load – or Case Spiral - which convey cases, trays, packs and other types of unitized loads and the Mass Flow version which convey full or empty bottles and cans in mass or single file.
Common in both versions are that they facilitate an elevation change within a very small footprint. So they save considerable floor space compared to conventional incline/ decline conveyors or Alpine conveyors and require fewer motors and controls. Floor space is at a premium in most beverage plants and the space savings often make it possible to expand within an existing facility. Utilizing Spirals can also help reduce the size of new buildings. Spiral conveyors also offer great flexibility when it comes to the position of the in-feed and out-feed tangents, making the spirals easy to fit in to tight production line layouts.
Modern Spiral Conveyors feature a pretty simple design and have few moving parts, making them easy to operate and require very little maintenance. They are also very flexible and can handle varying product sizes without adjustment or the need for change parts thereby reducing product changeover time.
Unit Load Spiral Conveyors are also much faster than any elevator or lift. The adjoining conveyors simply butt up to the end of the spiral, assuring a smooth transfer. Spirals handle products in a continuous flow up to 200 feet per minute while case elevators are much slower, need large gaps between loads, and or staging conveyors and controls, and require much more maintenance.
The Unit Load Spirals are typically used in packaging lines where an elevation change is needed, including end of line and palletizing operations. A Spiral can also be configured to handle more than one packaging line. Some Spirals can be equipped with multiple in- feeds at different elevations. Perfect for multi-level order picking operations.
Spirals are frequently used to create a forklift aisle between packaging lines to prevent land-locking operations. Some models can have two separate independently driven tracks within the same structure which is the ultimate space saver. With this dual lane configuration, it is also possible in infeed, or discharge at different elevations.
With Mass Flow Spirals, Products are conveyed up or down in a continuous single file or mass flow at a rate of up to 2,000 units per minute. The Mass Flow Spiral features a slightly different design that allows bulk materials to smoothly side transfer on to and off of the spiral.
They are perfect for conveying empty bottles from a high-level de-palletizer down to a floor level filling operation or full bottles from the bottling line to pasteurizing or a packaging line at a different elevation. Mass Flow Spirals eliminate the need for space consuming Alpine Conveyors. Single file Mass Flow Spirals can also replace side gripper conveyors. Unlike side grippers, Mass Flow spirals do not require adjustment for different size and shape loads and do not require change parts.
Spirals are very efficient machines. They draw comparatively little power, and only need one drive. This saves considerable time and money for installation and integration. Most spirals ship in one piece. They only need to be stood up, anchored and wired. In many cases a spiral can be installed in a day.
One constant in the beverage industry is change. Production lines change as products and seasonal demands dictate. Some models of spirals can be reconfigured to accommodate changes in configuration and even elevation. Depending on the required changes sometimes this can be done in the field in a short amount of time for a fraction of the price of a new spiral extending the useful life of the original investment.
All things considered, space savings, energy savings, low maintenance and high uptime, Spiral Conveyors are becoming the industry standard in food and beverage, consumer packaged goods and warehousing operations around the world.