While it may be cold outside this winter, it's always cold inside the commercial refrigeration units manufactured by this world leader in merchandising equipment and refrigeration systems.
Product quality. Worker safety. High productivity. Nowhere are these qualities more evident than at the company's manufacturing world headquarters complex. When that facility needed to expand its production capacity in response to strong sales growth, it turned to Hytrol conveyors — the same conveyors that had already established a solid track record on quality, safety, and reliability at the plant.
The new conveyor operation is similar to the line in place but with some important enhancements. This system includes a number of features designed specifically for the application. Yet even with these customized features, the system was fully operational in less than eight weeks.
The results have been immediate and dramatic. "We wanted to double our production with the addition of the second line," explains the manufacturing engineer at the facility.
Safety and Reliability
- Hytrol chain-driven and drag chain conveyors utilize zero-pressure accumulation, which allows workers to effectively control the release of cases from one zone to another. Safety controls engineered into tread plates on the conveyor and under the floor mats at each workstation prevent the cases from moving to the next zone if anyone is standing on the plates or mats. This is an extremely important safety feature as workers do much of the assembly work on or next to the conveyors.
- Line segments capable of being programmed as either a workstation or accumulation zone and accumulation or buffer zones set up between each work station keep the line continually moving.
- Another customized feature is a pneumatic lift table from Hytrol that transfers cases from a conveyor line with a 13-inch clearance to one with an eight-inch clearance. That lower clearance is required for certain assembly tasks that could be performed more safely and comfortably with the lower clearance.
Multiple Benefits Realized
In addition to improving production capacity by more than 50 percent in a few short weeks, the new conveyor system has delivered a number of other key benefits. Workflow flexibility has improved dramatically thanks to the computer controls and streamlined movement of cases from zone to zone. There's also much more efficient labor utilization. In addition, the operators enjoy a heightened sense of ownership because they now have more control in the assembly process.
"Basically, the system we now have in place is optimum for the types of products we're producing here." And as the learning curve kicks in," he adds, "the gains already realized will only increase."