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How IIoT Can Solve Today’s Conveyor Problems

Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) solutions gathers data from individual devices and components to enable large-scale automation. That automation has begun to help businesses tackle materials handling issues that they never could before. Here's how IIoT is furthering one of automation’s oldest tools in material handling: the conveyor line.

Problem: Downtime Motor Failure

Conveyors continually move which puts wear and tear on motors and components. When a conveyor breaks down, it can cause a delay in production, assembly or deliveries. Identifying the cause of these breakdowns would be difficult without the right tools.

IIOT ConveyorSolution: Intelligence and Data Collection

Small hall sensors residing inside each motor allows controllers to collect important information such as positioning data and more. Placing a microprocessor in that same motor provides the ability to hold and process critical intelligence necessary to make the big, real-time decisions on the factory floor. With minimal effort, you can quickly identify who supplied the motor, the specifics of each motor, motor runtime, motor temperatures, gearbox specification, serial number,  and much more. Using our EasyRoll software, or connecting a programmable controller (PLC) or computer to our controls, allows you to monitor:

- Actual motor temperature
- Run cycle times
- Current draw
- Overload count
- Motor positioning data

Problem: Delays in Ordering Components

Once the failed motor has been identified, figuring out the part number of that motor is the next step. We've seen it take hours or longer to find the correct information in the past and sometime the conveyor would need to be disassembled just to find the part number that's needed. 

Solution: Embedded Component Information

Now, parts manufacturers are making this task easier by embedding component information and making them available over the network. Not only do PULSEROLLER’s advanced intelligence controls collect vital information on the health of the motor, but also specific information related to every motor sold such as part number, serial number, and manufacturing date.

Problem: Preventative Maintenance and Downtime

Machines and conveyors go down often costing hundreds of thousands of dollars and quite possibly millions. Knowing when to replace components on your floor should be vital to your operations. 

Solution: Intelligent Controls and High-Speed Networking

A capable controller monitoring and collecting important data over a high-speed network can provide awesome insights into your equipment, allowing you to make informed decisions based upon historical information.  

ConveyLinx advanced intelligence controls coupled with Senergy’s powerful drive technology provides all the necessary smarts and horsepower to convey product quickly, efficiently and logically. The added benefit of this data collection and monitoring becomes boldly apparent as you begin identifying issues and replacing components before they fail. The right combination of a PLC or computer logic and ConveyLinx provides all the necessary information to identify maintenance opportunities. It can help you estimate when a motor has run its course or when a zone has overheated or overloaded enough times to realize it’s time to replace.

Problem: Lack of Visibility into Shipments and Inventory

Assembly lines, stock rooms, and warehouses deal with numerous transit shipments daily. To perform efficiently, they need accurate and timely information on shipments. They also could use more automation to lessen the manual effort involved in segregating the stock into various units according to purpose and usage.

Solution: Barcode Tracking

Conveyor systems outfitted with barcode tracking and vision systems can track pallets, crates, shelves, racks, cylinders, forklifts, etc. The vision system scans the identification tags, such as barcodes, QR codes and RFID tags. Inbound items received from vendors or other warehouses automatically can be updated to the ERP system for easy visibility. Walmart has been installing such a system in its busiest stores. Its FAST Unloader is an automated unloading conveyor system that uses scanners on a conveyor line to sort the boxes based on their location in the store.

PULSEROLLER’s advanced intelligence drive controls, ConveyLinx AI2, and MotionLinx AI support internal tracking for zero pressure accumulation systems. Data tracking can be passed automatically from zone to zone as product travels down the conveyor system. If there are complex mechanical controls on your conveyor such as pushers, transfers, mergers or diverters, then you can use the internal tracking to make the appropriate decision.

With solutions like this, it’s not surprising that B2B investments in IIoT solutions, apps and technologies are estimated to reach $267 billion by 2020, with 50% of this spending to be driven by manufacturing, transportation and logistics, and utilities.