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Is it time to upgrade your old energy-wasting conveyor systems?

April 21, 2022   Don Horne

An Ultimation MDR conveyor.

Ultimation Industries says manufacturers who want to improve the overall energy efficiency of their facilities may find savings from an unexpected source: by upgrading their conveyor systems.

Ultimation is a direct-to-consumer conveyor manufacturer and serves the automotive, food processing, vertical farming, heavy equipment, warehousing, fulfilment and delivery segments.

“Replacing legacy conveyor systems with motorized driven rollers, or MDRs, is a great choice for energy efficiency because they only use electricity when they are actively moving cargo,” said Richard Canny, president of Ultimation Industries. “They’re also quieter and can handle a multitude of products such as packages, tote bins, pallets, tires, cartons and more.”

MDRs operate with 24-volt DC power and use motorized rollers within the conveyor frames to move products from location to location. They also use zero pressure accumulation, which means loads continue moving along the MDR conveyor until they get close to (but do not touch) the product unit in front, ensuring there are no gaps in the assembly line. MDR conveyor systems have built in logic cards which automatically manage turning zones on and off so it runs on demand.

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Canny estimates that a typical 5-foot ­­­­Chain Driven Live Roller (CDLR) conveyor system using approximately 0.75kWh of energy for operation could save up to 81 per cent in energy usage by replacing it with a same-size MDR system. For a manufacturing facility with more than a dozen conveyors, the savings could add up to more than $3,500 a year. For larger manufacturing facilities or distribution centres, the energy savings can easily exceed $100,000 per year.

Depending upon the conveying application, different controls and accessories are available. Optional control cards make the MDR versatile for different accumulation activities. Load capacity can range from a few pounds to thousands of pounds per motorized zone.

MDRs and overhead conveyors are often used together with warehouse robots or Autonomous Mobile Robots. Warehouse robots can pick up and drop off loads from existing conveyors and provide a flexible way to link all conveyor styles together for maximum productivity and space utilization.

“Motorized rollers have become the dominant type of conveyor system in use today, for good reason,” said Canny. “Their energy efficiency is just another reason why manufacturers should consider them when modernizing their material handling systems.”


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