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Benefits of Low Profile Conveyors in Medical Device Manufacturing.

In today's technology-rich medical environment, the age-old hands-on approach to medical device manufacturing no longer applies. Manufacturers of medical instruments and supplies utilize an entirely different strategy when it comes to material handling. They place primary emphasis on material and minimize handling of product by personnel.

Since many medical devices are extremely sensitive to the slightest contamination and shock during manufacturing, the less they are touched the better. The challenge becomes how to avoid disruptions while efficiently moving and positioning products from station to station.

Manufacturers of low profile conveyor systems have been responding to the common needs of manufacturing in all industries, by designing and developing conveyor technology for faster and more accurate assembly, along with improved inspection and packaging that correspond with the need for automated and semi-automated processes.

Advancements in low-profile conveyor designs address the needs of increased efficiency, budget restraints and the goals of enhanced productivity, and the ability to accommodate shorter production runs within a just-in-time context. Medical device manufacturing has shared the benefits of these advancements by obtaining solutions for many of its unique manufacturing needs. Low-profile conveyors are ideal for moving and transferring small, light and often difficult-to-handle, odd-shaped parts through various manufacturing processes.

Close relationship between conveyor belt width and overall width of conveyor frame. The actual belt width is generally within 0.5 in. of the overall width of the conveyor.

Low overall conveyor height. A profile of 2.5 in. or less is common, with frame materials available in painted steel, stainless steel or extruded aluminum.

Small pulley diameters. Low-profile conveyors typically require pulleys of 1-in. diameter or less to accomplish delicate small part transfers.

Internally mounted pulley bearings. Since low profile conveyors are made to fit where other conveyors cannot, pulley bearings are mounted internally to save critical space.

Slider bed construction. With a variety of modern urethane belt material to choose from, the slider bed offers the most stable conveying surface for small parts handling.

A full selection of matched gearmotors, gearmotor mounting options, support stands and bolt-on guide accessories provide versatile set-ups and the ability to quickly reconfigure the conveyor's layout.

With most medical devices weighing less than 100 lbs., low-profile conveyors have enabled manufacturers to achieve greater efficiency and precision while reducing product contamination.

Quick delivery. Standard pre-engineered conveyors and accessories are available in a variety of widths and lengths, often with a one or two week lead time.

Layout flexibility. Conveyors can be configured so that product transfers from belt to belt without secondary handling.

Greater control over the process. Adding to the modularity of the low-profile conveyors is the ability to vary line speed to match the needs of each step in the process.

Conveyors designed to FDA and USDA guidelines for cleanroom and washdown applications.

Minimal space requirements. Many medical device manufacturing operations, particularly those in cleanrooms, take place in confined areas. Along with the compact design of low-profile conveyors, drive motors can be positioned anywhere along the conveyor.

Minimal engineering time. The flow of products on low-profile conveyors can be orchestrated by using pre-engineered control accessories, which eliminate expensive custom control engineering.

Accelerated production. Conveyor sections can be configured with turns, guides or "bumps" to properly orient and position products as they move from operation to operation.

With the development of low-profile conveyors to get product from one end of the medical device manufacturing process to the other, manufacturing engineers can achieve the highest level of product quality with maximum efficiency and minimum waste.
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Copyright 1999 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Richards, Frances
Publication:Medical Equipment Designer
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:May 1, 1999
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