The End of the Line for Line Shaft Conveyor
|Bryan Gionet – Author
Systems Support Manager
Line Shaft Conveyor was Once the Best
For many decades, line shaft conveyor was one of the most widely used live roller conveyors. Its simple design and versatility made it a good fit for many manufacturing and warehousing applications. This type of conveyor could be used for s-turns diverts and merges that ran off of the same drive. It was so versatile that it could even be pitched up or down and even run backward. Line shaft was the bread and butter for many companies such as Ermanco Mathews, Rapistan and Automotion to name a few.
Free Guide: Top Order Fulfillment KPI Indicators
As technology progressed, systems have become bigger, faster and more complex. Now implementing longer stretch of a conveyor, line shaft would need more drives but when using a belt driven live roller, it would only need one. Manufacturers and integrators tried running line shaft at higher speeds but found that it dramatically reduced the life of the conveyors components and would require frequent maintenance.
As distribution centers evolved, systems started to utilize accumulation conveyors that acted as a buffer between the different operations happening within one conveyor system. Different variations of belt driven live roller conveyors were developed that allowed for long runs of accumulation. Some line shaft manufacturers attempted to make an accumulating version of line shaft. It worked by stopping the rollers with brakes in the individual zones while the shaft still spins and the o-rings and spools burn out from all the friction. This counterintuitive design caused the conveyor components to wear out even faster.
Maintain your Line Shaft Conveyor with these parts: O-Rings, Spools, Spacers, etc.
Improve Conveyor System Efficiency with Motorized Driven Rollers
Out of the different types of live roller conveyor, Motor Driven Roller (MDR) is replacing line shaft in its application. MDR can do everything line shaft can do but more efficiently. The secret behind MDR is that every conveyor zone has its own 24VDC motor inside one of the rollers and the other rollers in the zone help to move it down through the system.
The rollers are powered by a local DC power supply which are daisy chained together to run each conveyor zones. To expedite installation and reconfigurations, straight sections, curves and right angle transfers are all connected in the same way. Not only is MDR easier to install but can also run at high speeds with minimal maintenance; two of the major setbacks of line shaft conveyor systems. Another plus to utilizing MDR is that it is energy efficient, since every conveyor zone runs independently, only zones with product on them are consuming energy. As the product leaves that zone it turns off and the downstream zone turns on.
Here is an example of TGWs MDR:
Adding up all of the advantages that MDR has become one of the most widely used conveyors in manufacturing and distribution system applications. All the conveyor manufacturers out there are making their own flavor of MDR conveyor. The only disadvantage to MDR is price. The motorized rollers and controller cards that power this conveyor are expensive.