A large Nebraska-based beef plant consistently experienced problems with its BDLR (belt-driven live roller) radius curve conveyors for a number of years.
The most problematic radius conveyors created multiple operational and maintenance issues:
- Frequent case jams required labour to be diverted from productive tasks for jam clearance
- Case damage as a result of jams caused the plant to discard/rework many cases
- Wear and tear on the conveyors required frequent parts replacement and excessive maintenance labour
Understanding the benefits that Intralox’s Activated Roller Belt (ARB) technology can bring to the back end of a plant, the maintenance and engineering departments at the plant decided to replace eight of the problematic radius curves with ARB-equipped conveyors.
Following the retrofit, case jams on these conveyors were eliminated. The ARB-equipped receiving conveyor dependably pulls cases from the discharge end of the feeding conveyor, accelerates them, and justifies them against a side rail. This unique action not only eliminates jams at the curve, but it also establishes consistent case orientation following the curve to eliminate a potential cause of downstream jams.
The plant has also reported a drastic reduction in the amount of maintenance labour and parts replacement that is now required. ARB-equipped conveyors have significantly fewer mechanical parts than BDLR radius conveyors, reducing the number of potential failure points. In fact, the plant has been able to redeploy two labour positions per shift in the shipping area due to the elimination of radius curve problems that required labour for correction.
When necessary, repairs are now quick and easy with the ARB-equipped conveyors. Since their deployment, there has been virtually no associated unscheduled downtime, maintenance, or jams. A steady case flow has replaced the bottlenecks that once contributed to overtime in the shipping area.
The table on the left illustrates how retrofitting the eight conveyors with the Intralox solution is projected to save the plant approximately $25,000 per conveyor annually. The payback from retrofitting these conveyors is estimated to be less than one year. The engineering department at the plant has since equipped four additional radius curve conveyors with ARB technology, and it has more retrofits planned.