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FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

 

Installing a new conveyor system can be a daunting prospect, let CSL guide you through the process. Please see below a list of frequently asked questions:

Before Order

Q.
  
How long will my installation take?  
A.
 

Installation times vary depending on the size of the job and complexity, the environment of the installation can also make a difference. A typical small/medium warehouse conveyor system will take approximately 3 weeks to mechanically install with the last week overlapping with electricians starting the field wiring followed by another 2 weeks of electrical wiring followed by up to 2 weeks of testing and product commissioning.

Q.
  
Can CSL help me visualise the proposed layout? 
A.
 

CSL initially provide layouts in 2D and once early plans are made we will then draw the layout designs in 3D, incorporating other aspects of your facility to help visualise the new equipment in situ. This can be particularly important when conveyors are at multiple heights or move between rooms and areas. This can also be provided to the customer as a 3D video. 

Q.
  
How can we prove throughputs? 
A.
 

Using state of the art 3D modelling simulation software CSL can prove proposed throughputs, this can be useful during the design stage as it helps pinpoint bottlenecks in the layout and also in the customer’s operation. The simulation software can run in real time and provides data which can help customers ensure the automation is bolstered with the right level of manpower. 

Q.
  
Will CSL carry out detailed site surveys?  
A.
 

During the proposal stages CSL will carry out initial feasibility surveys taking note of your facility, existing equipment, layouts, ingress and general dimensions. If a proposal progresses our project team will carry out thorough surveys. If a mezzanine is part of the installation a geo survey maybe necessary on the floor slab. 

Q.
  
How do I work out conveyor ROI?  
A.
 

Working out basic return on investment calculations can be as simple as working out the costs which will be saved by reduced personnel, reduced mechanical equipment. The calculations are used to work out how quickly the savings will pay for the new conveyor system. 

To thoroughly put together the ROI study  it is also important to calculate the potential the new system will offer, such as increased throughputs, improved pack to dispatch speeds etc. Schemes with mezzanines included can also include the cost saving of increased floor space without the need to relocate.  

Q.
  
How can we pay for our conveyor system?  
A.
 

CSL customers have a few options of how to fund projects, the majority of customers choose to either fund using cash reserves or lease equipment through leasing companies. The lease option has become popular as it actually saves money due to tax offsetting. 

Q.
  
Can conveyors be used outside?  
A.
 

The simple answer is yes, but depends on the conveyor type and function. This is something that needs considering from early stages as the design, layouts and material of construction need to be considered. CSL have a working example of a pallet outfeed/off load conveyor that has been outside for more than 14 years. Proper maintenance needs to be allowed for. 

Q.
  
My product is an unusual size/shape/weight?  
A.
 

Over the last 20+ years CSL have handled a very wide range of products, our design team have a lot of experience in bespoke conveyor design and manufacture and can find a solution for the majority of product types.   

Q.
  
Can work be carried out 'out of hours'?  
A.
 

CSL carry out installations, repairs and service work 24/7. With busy warehouses and factories. having equipment maintained out of usual operating hours is hugely beneficial and reduces possible downtime. 

Q.
  
Do CSL only supply conveyors?  
A.
 

In short, no! CSL often supply a full turnkey project including conveyors, mezzanines, goods lifts, storage/racking, tote bins etc. These can be integrated into the designs and fully project managed by CSL. 

Q.
  
What other manufacturers do CSL represent?  
A.
 

CSL work with select trusted partners to offer the very best tried and tested equipment on the market, these partners include AmbaFlex, Conveyor units, Intralox, Qimarox and Interroll.

CSL also work with other partners offering bespoke manufacturing.

The combination allows CSL to offer the best solution for your requirements, whatever that might be. 

Q.
  
Will CSL work alongside other contractors while onsite?  
A.
 

New warehouse/factory installations will have various customer assigned contractors working on site during our conveyor installation. Our project managers and engineers are used to working alongside additional contractors both onsite and in the planning stages. 

Q.
  
How do CSL select the correct equipment for our requirements?  
A.
 

When purchasing any capital equipment, cost plays a major part as it must show a “Return-On-Investment” (R.O.I.).

The more efficient/effective the equipment, the faster the R.O.I. so with CSL’s help, costs for most conveyor systems can be tailored to meet the client’s budget.

Conveyor Systems Ltd supply a wide range of cost-effective conveyor designs to carry out numerous functions in warehouses/fulfilment centres and factories which vary according to the product being handled. For example, something as fundamental as if which products will/won’t travel along a conveyor system.

The emphasis of a CSL conveyor system is in the “up-front” detailed design using 2D and 3D drawings plus system simulation to show how a conveyor system will both look and function, which takes into account the daily/monthly/yearly peaks and troughs of the current throughputs to ensure the “as sold” scheme can easily handle them whilst ensuring it is designed with extra capacity to handle higher volumes in the future.

To ensure the correct equipment is specified and as part of a detailed site survey, CSL Project Engineers collate details of products to be handled on the conveyor system such as types of packaging outers, max and min sizes and weights together with maximum volumes of each.

CSL will have detailed discussions with customer about how their existing operation runs and what additional functions they require, the conveyor system designers must also consider the area that the conveyor system is to be installed into such as space constraints, fire exits, personnel/truck access routes, existing machinery, what level of manning is being considered by the customer etc.

Should the client’s premises have sufficient height, CSL may suggest a mezzanine floor to keep the ground floor operation to a smaller “footprint” by positioning part of the operation on a first-floor level and designing the conveyor system to feed to/from it which is a standard and popular solution for freeing up ground floor space.

CSL ensure the final installed conveyor system is capable of meeting most future additional changes needed to the operation whilst designing the scheme to be flexible enough for it to be re-configured should this be found necessary.

 

During Project & Installation

Q.
  
Can we make changes to the original scope?  
A.
 

Certain changes can be made throughout the project delivery, depending on what these changes are and what stage of manufacture equipment is at there maybe various cost changes. 

Q.
  
Can installations be carried out in operational warehouses/factories?  
A.
 

A lot of the installations CSL carryout are in fully operational warehouses/factories, with the correct planning and safety considerations there is no reason this cannot be done.  

Q.
  
What stages of a conveyor system installation do I expect?  
A.
 

Every warehouses and factory conveyor system installation is slightly different depending on the equipment being installed, the environment and the required timeframe, the below list is a rough guide to the steps CSL take during your installation:

  • Site Survey including ingress routes, fire door locations, drains, cables etc
  • Production of a method statement and risk assessments 
  • Delivery of equipment to laydown area
  • Inspect parts are correct and present
  • Floor marking and marshalling 
  • Equipment assembly and positioning 
  • Electrical first fix 
  • Control cabinet installed
  • Electrical second fix
  • Power up tests
  • Mechanical and electrical commissioning and testing
  • Customer sign off and documentation issuing  

 

After Project Installation

Q.
  
Can CSL provide operator training?  
A.
 

A basic level of operator training is included in each project, the detail of this depends on the customers requirements. A lot of customers opt for a training package which includes:

  • Detailed Operator training
  • Maintenance training
  • fault finding 
  • Electrical training 
Q.
  
Do CSL offer service inspections and repairs?  
A.
 

CSL continue to support a large amount of CSL system customers as well as customers who had their conveyor system installed by others. Our aftersales support includes breakdown repair, planned service maintenance, spare parts, relocations, end of life removal etc. Visit our aftersales page for more information

Q.
  
Will we receive any documentation after the installation is complete?
A.
 

After every installation CSL will issue a full set of documents both digitally and physically. These contain an operator’s manual, safety declarations, safety information, residual hazards, system drawings, circuit diagrams spare parts list, maintenance instructions etc. 

Q.
  
Can our current conveyor system be modified or expanded?  
A.
 

Most conveyor systems designed and installed by CSL and others can be modified at a later date, this often includes expansion and upgrades. Customers can plan for expansion and further phases during the initial design phases.   

General Questions

Q.
  
Can conveyors run 24 hours a day?  
A.
 

A large number of CSL customers have 24 hour operations which rely on their conveyors and automation systems. The equipment CSL supply is very robust and high quality and will run for a long time with little intervention. High usage customers need to ensure the system is thoroughly maintained in accordance with maintenance recommendations. We would also advise setting some downtime to carryout inspections and maintenance work on the equipment. Onsite spare holding is also recommended.

Q.
  
How can products be sorted?  
A.
 

Some form of sortation, diverting or merging is integral to most conveyor systems, the methods CSL would propose depend on the speeds, product, requirements, conveyor medium etc. Also depending on the requirements different field devices would be used for the trigger such as barcode, vision, weight, colour, RFID etc.  

Q.
  
Can CSL relocate our existing conveyors and move to a new location or premises?  
A.
 

CSL often undertake relocation projects, this might involve moving either CSL supplied conveyors or equipment supplied by others to a new location, this is could be either be in the same warehouse/factory or elsewhere. As with any project this will involve careful planning and project management throughout.

Relocations often involves both modifying the equipment and adding in new parts, It will also require changes to the systems electrical components and software systems.

Q.
  
Can CSL supply anything with a smaller footprint than an inclined belt to save floor space?
A.
 

CSL have several solutions which are designed with a very small footprint which is useful in tight spaces. The range consists of both vertical elevators and spiral elevators, both of which have very small footprints when compared to inclined belt conveyors, freeing up more warehouse/shop floor space for other uses.

Apart from lifting goods above head/truck height, vertical elevators and spiral elevators can feed to/from multiple heights such as various mezzanine floor levels or buffer stores.

Depending upon the type/size/weight of the goods, a suitable elevator is available to handle anything from poly bags to full pallet loads.

All can be designed reversible and can either be standalone or supplied as part of an integrated conveyor system.

Q.
  
Are conveyor systems flexible enough to work in a packing operation? 
A.
 

Conveyor systems come in many forms to suit a wide variety of packing solutions whether it is interfacing with a manual packing or high-speed automated packaging operations.

Lower volume manual packing solutions generally rely on work being brought to the packing operative in wheeled cages/trolleys by pickers, but conveyor systems are very useful for taking the completed orders or even part orders for consolidation from several order picking locations to a central packing area prior to sortation and despatch.  

In high volume automated packing operations, they can utilise conveyor systems to transport picked goods from the end of the picking aisles on several levels directly to the centralised packing/labelling area, where, by way of reading the bar code whilst travelling along the conveyor, the goods are packed automatically into the appropriate packaging and labelled accordingly.

A medium/high speed automated sortation system is normally included to scan the destination bar code before feeding off down to the relevant destination despatch bay. 

Q.
  
Can sortation systems be designed for smaller lower volume operations?  
A.
 

Automated sortation systems can be designed to meet most budgets, spaces and suitable for a wide range of products. This leads to a reduction in labour which will usually provide a quick return on investment (ROI) for most warehouses/fulfilment centres/factories 

The most basic form of sortation for very low volume operations can be a simple manual system whereby the packing personnel “sort” the packed product by placing them onto separate dedicated conveyors, this is labour intensive, slow and subject to human error.

More sophisticated conveyor sortation systems for lower volumes, are when all packed/labelled products are placed onto a common conveyor and utilise mechanical devices such as 90-degree pneumatic pushers or belt/chain transfers to feed down various destination lanes.

Medium volume operations when higher throughputs are required, a series of switch wheel transfers are utilised which are capable of transferring products off at an angle without the product stopping, which allows higher volumes to be handled by the sortation system.

Product sort can be identified by several options including bar code, weight, size, quantity, postal destination, RFID and transferred down designated lanes. The sort is controlled using dedicated software

Defective packaging or mis-reads can also be transferred off down a special lane keeping personnel input to a minimum.

Q.
  
Will we get a good return on our investment (ROI) in a conveyor system?  
A.
 

Conveyor systems can be supplied to meet most budgets, and, if designed correctly, are normally labour saving which is one of the largest costs for most businesses regardless of the industry.

One of the main uses of a conveyor system is that it moves products around a factory/warehouse/fulfilment centre etc without the need for manual labour, so depending upon the ratio of the manning levels to the purchase cost, a conveyor system could have a fairly quick return on investment (ROI).

A conveyor system will also have the added benefit of an increase in order fulfilment cycle time, thus increasing revenue.

Based on parameters approved with the client at the planning phase/final layout stages with the appropriate equipment and considering factors such as labour requirements, operational restrictions and available budget, an early return on investment (ROI) should be assured.

As part of the design stage, a 3D simulation should be included which helps to develop design criteria such as maximum peak volumes achievable which reduces the need to employ additional staff at peak times.

Q.
  
Can CSL also supply Inbound solutions?  
A.
 

A CSL conveyor system solution for handling inbound goods uses a large proportion of the components that would be used on an outbound conveyor system but may need to have special features which can accommodate products that have travelled from other destinations and may not have the same handling characteristics as when they were despatched. The use of a vehicle unloading system could also be used to quickly unload inbound deliveries. 

Packages such as polybags, cardboard boxes, wraparound packages, film-wrapped packs etc can become deformed after being manually handled or transported a distance by vehicle so a CSL inbound conveyor system is designed to take this into consideration.

On a standard CSL conveyor system, should the inbound package be so deformed that it cannot be identified automatically, a special reject lane is included for them to be transferred on to for manual checking before being reintroduced to the conveyor system if possible and fed to the correct destination be it for bulk storage, order picking or onward despatch.    

CSL also make allowances even if the outer transport packaging is intact and undamaged such as in the case of a plastic tote bin, the contents could have shifted to one end which could cause issues if/when transported or sorted on a high-level conveyor system requiring an incline or high-speed transfers.

Q.
  
What are the main benefits of a conveyor system over our manual operation?  
A.
 

Conveyor systems are designed to carry out numerous functions but principally to transport items either in a factory, warehouse or fulfilment centre and convey products to the correct destinations around the building keeping the number of personnel movements, operational costs, and labour to a minimum

A conveyor system also has the benefit of reducing order fulfilment cycle times, by speeding up order picking and transporting products from all corners of a building to a centralised packing/despatch area thus reducing the need to employ additional staff at peak times with a corresponding increase in operating costs.

Conveyor systems are used widely for feeding to/from multiple mezzanine floor levels, rather than using forklifts, goods lifts, or stairs. This can free up floor space and improve personnel movement by using overhead mounted conveyors. Moving products between floors can be done using a spiral elevator, incline belt or vertical elevator

With conveyor systems being designed to automatically transport products to different destinations in a building by reading a product identification such as bar code or by size/weight, it makes tracking and tracing of particular sku’s easier to locate.

A CSL modular conveyor system can be tailored to meet current needs and designed to allow for future increased volume requirements without the need to increase staffing levels.

Q.
  
What is the CSL process from the initial enquiry through to aftersales support?  
A.
 

Throughout CSL’s history, its core capabilities have included engineering knowledge, project expertise and professional site assembly skills along with superb aftersales parts supply and servicing.

There are many fundamental stages we go through to identify the customers’ requirements of a material handling system for their business. From an initial enquiry the first of numerous site discussions will be to identify potential solutions taking all aspects of the customers’ requirements into account together with some provisional measurements.

Paramount is ensuring we have details of all products to be handled such as sizes and weights, type of packaging and maximum volumes together with the area to be automated, space constraints, fire exits, personnel/truck access routes, existing machinery and what level of manning is being considered.

All the above information will ensure CSL can produce accurate computer-generated drawings (CAD) of the scheme in the customers premises together with a 3D visualisation on the more complicated layouts to develop the best and most cost-effective scheme.

Once a scheme is agreed in principle, computer generated costings can be produced along with a detailed quotation including a system specification.

Once the contract has been placed a Project Manager is assigned to the project, providing a single point of contact. This ensures a clear and defined line of communication from design through to commissioning and beyond.

Besides a full and detailed site survey being carried out by Project Engineers on both the mechanical and electrical controls aspects, a comprehensive project plan is produced defining all critical paths along with crucial dates such as start and completion dates with all the stages in between.

To “fine tune” the specification, a Functional Design Specification (FDS) is drawn up along with detailed engineering drawings for final approval to again ensure the customer is kept up to date and informed of the project progress.

Pre-agreed dates for equipment deliveries will be arranged to keep any possible disruption to a minimum and installation is carried out under strict HSE standards whilst adhering to any CDM regulations in place on site.

The installation team will be under the control of a Site Supervisor and monitored by the Project Manager to ensure critical times and dates are met. Depending upon the level of the customers site personnel, informal training can be given at various stages of the installation/commissioning process.

Once both the mechanical and electrical aspects are completed the commissioning process can begin with powering up individual drives/devices to ensure they operate as designed, whilst at the same time testing different products are handled correctly and at the design speeds.

When both the customer and the Project Manager are satisfied with the systems performance, final mechanical, electrical, software and diagnostics checks are carried out before documentation is finally completed and forwarded to the customer as part of the final “hand-over”.

After we have left site, we continue to provide effective technical support and advice to guarantee optimum performance from the conveyor system to ensure many years trouble free reliable service.

Apart from supplying the mandatory CE/UKCA safety certificate, a comprehensive documentation pack is provided which includes maintenance schedules, operational safety recommendations, itemised spare parts list, finalised “as installed” drawings and details of post installation options such as maintenance contracts, breakdown support and on-going, in-house personnel operational/ maintenance training.

Care and Maintenance 

Q.
  
How often do I need to carry out maintenance on my conveyor?  
A.
 

This is very much depended on the age, environment, product and usage, our documentation package includes thorough maintenance recommendations and timescales. A lot of our customers have bi-annual service contracts in place for peace of mind.   

Q.
  
Do I need to keep spare parts on site?  
A.
 

 CSL would always advise to keep at least a selection of critical spares on site, keeping spares on site will significantly reduce the risk of unplanned downtime and loss of production or throughputs. As part of our documentation package we will supply a complete list of spare parts for your conveyor system, this also categorise these by priority/criticality. 

Q.
  
How to clean a conveyor system?  
A.
 

Some form of cleaning is needed regularly, this is often as simple as removing debris such as cardboard, tape, labels etc. Depending on the environment and dust levels incorporating the conveyor into a cleaning regime is very useful, this could effect component performance including electrical sensors etc.

Dusty conveyors could also increase fire risk. 

It is important to isolate the conveyor before any cleaning or debris removal is carried out. Often a dry clean is all that is required.