Which is one of the simplest energy that we use for our existence 24/7? It is a natural gift which supports us day and night. A resource that is available for free and for all us. Yes, you are right. It is gravity. And a gravity conveyor is a material handling device that uses gravity ONLY.
It is a revolutionary innovation of its time. It removed the hassle of lifting big boxes and transporting them. It reduced human efforts, and incredibly lowered labor costs and power usage.
If you are in the manufacturing industry, you would be already using one of the gravity conveyor types. And, by any chance, if you are not using one, it is a great idea to plan the installation of these miracle conveyors wherever possible.
And have great savings on energy bills!
In this article, we will discuss everything about gravity conveyors. First of all, we will see the things that we cover here. We will see:
- What is a gravity conveyor?
- Types of gravity conveyors
- Working mechanism of each gravity conveyor types
- When and where a gravity conveyor is used?
- Benefits of a gravity conveyor
So shall we dive into the details?
What is a Gravity Conveyor?
A gravity conveyor is a cost-effective device, which uses gravity only, for passing materials from one location to another. It uses no electricity.
It is a highly durable and low maintenance conveyor system.
It can transport a wide range of items including wood boxes, canisters, packages, cartons, totes, barrels and flat bags.
How does a gravity conveyor work?
A gravity conveyor moves the load by utilizing the descending inclination of the conveyor. As a result of the inclination, the transported item moves to the lower direction. The inclination varies according to the conveying distance and requirements.
There are 3 major classifications for gravity conveyors and each of them works in a slightly different way. Under each type, we see the working mechanism of that particular gravity conveyor.
Types of gravity conveyors:
There are 3 types of gravity conveyors
- Gravity roller conveyor
- Gravity chute conveyor
- Skate wheel conveyor
Gravity roller conveyor
The most used type of a gravity conveyor is gravity roller conveyor.
Conjoining successive rollers with equal or specific intervals is the design of gravity roller conveyors. A pair of parallel metal frames hold these conveyor rollers in a series.
Installation of the conveyor rollers is on a somewhat declined angle to use the force of gravity. Curved gravity roller conveyors are available too. Below is the image of a curved gravity conveyor that uses rollers.
Working Mechanism of a Gravity Roller Conveyor
The gravity roller conveyors are manufactured with great quality rigid materials. This provides robust, plane and solid platform that aids in moving loads efficiently.
Take a case of a box moving across a gravity roller conveyor.
Push a box from the end of the gravity conveyor. Or convey the box from another conveyor system. Once the box enters the rollers, due to the gravity pull, each roller starts to progress forward.
Because of the inclination, the rollers continue to roll when the box is in contact. And the box keeps on moving forward smoothly.
At the destination, an end stop stops the motion by blocking the way. Another option would be to transfer the box to another conveyor system, like a conveyor belt.
The items are to be finely packed in a sturdy bin or basket. Unless it becomes challenging to convey them across the rollers.
View the working of a gravity roller conveyor from C-Trak conveyor systems below:
The conveyors are normally mounted on height adjustable tripods or bipods. This depends on the maximum load on the conveyor. We could achieve the desired inclination using the height adjustment on these stands.
At any given point of time, the transported item will have contact with minimum 3 rollers. Lesser than 3 rollers under the item and the item will not move continuously. Keep this in mind while assessing the roller requirements of your own conveyor system.
Gravity chute conveyor
The gravity chute conveyor looks exactly same like a slide in kid’s parks. The boxes that need to be conveyed enter the chute conveyor from a height.
The gravity pull gives fast motion to the boxes. Normally gravity chute conveyors precede by a gravity roller conveyor or some other kind of conveying system.
In the photo above, the boxes will land in a roller conveyor before coming to a halt. Another common type of gravity chute conveyor is spiral chute conveyor.
Skate wheel conveyor
The skate wheel conveyor systems are conveyors with wheels mounted on a shaft and arranged in a special order. Spacers separate the wheels on these shafts.
They give an efficient method to transport lightweight loads with the flat bottom like boxes and cartons.
Skate wheel conveyors allow better flow than gravity roller conveyors. The skate wheels stay above the holding parallel bars. Therefore, the items transported could be wider than the conveyor itself.
At any given point of time, the item will have at least 10 wheels under it.
Working Mechanism of a Skate wheel Conveyor
The skate wheel conveyor will have shafts with wheels in the place of rollers when compared to roller conveyors. The shafts will have even numbered and odd numbered wheels, separated by spacers.
These shafts appear alternatively. At any given point of time, a box will have minimum 10 wheels under it.
Inclination setup is similar to that of gravity roller conveyors. Adjust the height of the stands at different points to achieve the desired inclination. Finally testing, with the items to be transported, is required to fine tune the height.
View a quick demo video to set up a skate wheel conveyor from Ashland conveyor products.
Where and when a gravity conveyor is used?
A gravity conveyor is used in different industries where continuous movement of moderate or lightweight material is a daily practice.
These conveyors are specially used to reduce power consumption. Following are industries where gravity conveyors are commonly used:
- Warehousing & Distribution
- Order Fulfillment
- Government Military & Agency
- Packaging and Parcel Handling
- Cabinetry & Furniture
- Food & Beverage
A gravity roller conveyor is best suited when packages are lightweight but need fast and speedy conveying on items.
Furthermore to handle material in a better and secure manner, gravity roller conveyors are best and most reliable to use. The manufacturing industry has been somehow transformed and modernized after the advent of these mechanical devices.
Why is gravity conveyor beneficial?
The gravity conveyors have so many features that make it beneficial as compared to other kinds of conveyors.
The major benefit is the cost factor from two different aspects.
- Reduced cost of power/energy
- Reduced cost of labor.
In addition to them, other benefits include the safety of items and non-stop working power, as there is no power need at all.
Regular cleaning and periodic inspection of rollers would be enough for maintaining a gravity roller conveyor system. Hence gravity conveyors are easy to maintain. The same goes for gravity chute conveyor and skate wheel conveyor.
Another plus point is the lack of any electrical or complex mechanical parts involved with the conveyor system. This is due to the fact that the driving force is natural by itself. The same goes for gravity chute conveyor and skate wheel conveyor.
Furthermore, gravity conveyor systems is an excellent eco-friendly solution. This is due to the fact that the driving force is natural by itself.
Gravity conveyor system is a worthwhile investment to almost all kind of manufacturing industry. The most noteworthy achievement would be multifold cost savings through low maintenance costs and zero energy costs.
If you are planning an upgrade or a new conveying line for your factory, it is a great idea to incorporate gravity conveyors in the same. Conveyor manufacturers provide excellent customized solutions to match the exact requirements for your product.
Further reading and reference: