Tow the Line
Assembly Magazine featured SI Systems Towline in their Article “Conveyors for Large Loads” Jim Camillo, senior editor, interviewed our Towline expert, Jim English, below is what he had to say about our Towline.
Towline conveyors consist of a powered chain running through either an in-floor or above-floor track that tows a series of carts. Each cart supports a large load and moves between stations, enabling workers to perform their assembly operations on the load.
Affixed to each cart is a radio frequency identification tag. When the cart pulls into each station on the line, the tag transmits assembly instructions for that specific part or subassembly.
Towlines provide operators with 360-degree assembly access to the load. Carts can be equipped with lift tables that raise and lower the part to accommodate each worker’s different ergonomic requirements.
The cart’s ID is married to the train and tracked through the system to monitor production quality and performance, as well as identify nonconforming work. Towline conveyors are configured in either a loop or a straight line path.
Their length can range from several hundred to several thousand feet long, notes Jim English, senior applications sales engineer at SI Systems LLC. SI Systems’ Lo-Tow towline systems include components that allow carts to automatically transfer between loops and divert to individual spurs for process operations.
“Towline is a unique conveyor,” says English. “It’s very adaptable. Loads can range from 1,000 to tens of thousands of pounds. In reality, what other conveyor can effectively move a 60,000-pound industrial truck or a 70,000-pound tractor?”
English points out that all towline conveyor systems have the same basic components, regardless of the load size they move. Conveyor carts feature all-steel construction, tow pins and guide-pins, and a combination of rigid and fixed casters.
Towline conveyors are best suited for high-volume applications and easily controlled in the plant with a local PLC or remotely accessed via a virtual private network. Typically, one chain drive is enough to move multiple carts along several hundred feet of track. According to English, it is common for these conveyors to last for several decades and require little maintenance.
SI offers several Lo-Tow conveyors that are typically operated in three different modes: continuous creeping, indexing triggered by a PLC timer or operator-initiated release, and nonsynchronous with operator-released cart stops. SI’s SideFinger model uses Track-Gap construction that eliminates jamming by offsetting the chain from the towing slot. This slot allows contaminants, such as fasteners and small parts, to fall harmlessly into an open void in the track.
SI’s Clas-SI-c towline is an alternative to floor-mounted conveyance and helps eliminate forklift labor and congestion. It supports long runs of conveyor track to link a company’s receiving, storage, picking and shipping departments.
English says that SI towlines convey a wide range of large items that he places into three weight categories. Low-weight products include all-terrain vehicles, motorcycles, snowmobiles and golf carts. Medium-weight products are transmissions, axles, engines and other vehicle subcomponents.
The heaviest items include tractors, trucks and motor graders. Despite their size, English says these units can usually be conveyed with only two carts. One cart is placed under the front axle and another under the rear axle, with the vehicle serving as a bridge between them.
To read the full article click here https://www.assemblymag.com/articles/94828-conveyors-for-large-loads
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