Handling technology for lifting and lowering goods in a warehouse. Belt vs. vertical conveyor
There are many ways to organise the lifting and lowering of goods in a warehouse between mezzanine floors. Freight lifts or forklifts work effectively to raise and lower goods in large quantities between floors.
Lifting and lowering of individual items can be done manually by warehouse staff or by using spiral conveyors.
In this article we look at two of the most common systems for automating the vertical lifting and lowering of goods over multiple floors – vertical and belt conveyors with inclination.
Belt vs. Vertical conveyor
The main difference between these systems for lifting and lowering goods is the efficient use of warehouse space. The vertical lift requires no more than 1 m2 of space. In contrast, a belt conveyor with inclination requires up to 18 m2 of warehouse space. To understand the differences between these two systems for the warehouse, let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of lifting and lowering goods between floors.
Advantages of the vertical conveyor
Compactness. The vertical lift has a compact design. This allows you to effectively use the limited space in the warehouse. For example, it can be installed to lower goods from a multi-level mezzanine floor by placing it on one side of the mezzanine floor. his solution maximises the use of warehouse space: A lift with the driven roller section occupies about 4 m2 on one floor, which is four times less than that required for a belt conveyor.
In a multi-storey system, belt conveyors must be installed on each floor, while a vertical lift can autonomously lower goods between floors, regardless of the number of floors of the mezzanine or platform.
Lifting and lowering. The movement in both directions is reversible. The vertical lift can raise and lower goods, i.e. move up and down, which allows greater flexibility in lifting and lowering goods and guarantees optimal placement on each floor. In this way, several processes can be organised at the same time. For example, vertical lifting goods to the upper floors of the mezzanine for storage, lowering selected goods to the lower floors, lifting empty trays to receive goods in them.
Multifunctional structure. The vertical lift can operate with conveyors on one and on two or more levels on each floor, which extends its functionality for placing and allocating goods. The lower level of the system can be used for lowering boxes with selected goods, while the upper level can be used for unloading and accumulating empty boxes or boxes for replenishing the warehouse.
Continuous movement of the trays. The lift, together with the roller conveyor, ensures a constant lifting and lowering of the trays from the upper floors to the lower floors or vice versa – thanks to the possibility of stowing each tray on a separate zone of the equipment. Moreover, thanks to this combination of equipment, it is possible to realise the staging of the trays on the conveyor on the mezzanine floor at an ergonomic height and almost anywhere on the mezzanine floor. A good example of such a simple and at the same time effective solution are our automation projects for pick-up stations.
Energy-saving. A vertical lift consumes significantly less electricity than a belt conveyor with inclination. The lift only consumes electricity during the process of vertical lifting and lowering of goods, and its transport route is significantly shorter than that of a belt transporter.
Disadvantages of the vertical conveyor
Limited throughput capacity. This type of warehouse equipment has a throughput capacity of 200 to 500 boxes per hour in one direction and 300 to 600 boxes per hour in combined conveying – alternating lifting and lowering. This affects the speed of vertical lifting and lowering loads and limits the use of the system in high volume situations. The specific lifting and lowering speeds depend on the height of the tiers.
Precise requirements for the dimensions of the goods. For an elevator, the following requirements apply to the dimensions of the goods: Dimensions from 200 x 200 mm to 800 x 600 mm and a weight of up to 50 kg. Another important requirement for lifting or lowering goods is the flat bottom of the goods. This factor limits the use of this system for goods of non-standard shape or size or provides for the use of additional trays for lifting and lowering such goods.
Advantages of the belt conveyor with inclination
Continuous flow of goods. This type of the warehouse equipment provides an even and continuous flow of goods between the upper and lower levels, which is especially important for automated production or packaging lines.
Flexibility in handling loads. It can transport goods of different shapes and sizes – from 100 x 100 to 1,200 x 800 mm – thus extending the range of applications.
Productivity. The belt transporter is more efficient, ensuring the lifting and lowering of up to 3,000 boxes per hour between floors. The maximum capacity of the lift is 300 boxes per hour.
Disadvantages of the belt conveyor with inclination
One-sidedness. Normally this warehouse equipment only works in one direction. This limits its use in situations where you need to transport goods in different directions, lifting or lowering them between floors, or to perform loading and unloading operations on both sides, such as peak loads.
Large footprint. The belt transporter requires the belt to be inclined in order to transport loads (downhill or uphill), which is why it cannot be described as compact. This can be problematic in tight spaces in warehouses or production facilities.
Limited incline range. The belt conveyor with inclination can be installed at an angle of 0° to 16°. It is important to bear in mind that the size of the tilt angle determines the area that the unit occupies on the floor. In addition, not all types of goods can be transported at a large angle: the weight, length and type of goods affect the possibility of stable movement in this way. To prevent the goods from falling and being damaged during the inclined movement, they must be packed in special boxes and have a rectangular shape. It is also important that the centre of gravity (S) of each product to be transported is above the point (P).
The goods retrieval area is located in a fixed place. This increases the distance between the storage area and the system, making the warehouse operator’s route longer.
It is not possible to stow goods. Goods cannot be stowed with this type of warehouse equipment – the entire system stops.
Costs. Each belt conveyor requires its own electric drive, regardless of the height of the equipment. A vertical lift, on the other hand, requires only one electric drive, which significantly reduces its costs.
The choice between a vertical and a belt conveyor with inclination for the warehouse depends on space requirements, productivity and automation budget. The vertical conveyor is more compact and efficient in the use of a limited warehouse space. It is more flexible in lifting and lowering loads to upper and lower floors as it works in two directions and has a multifunctional structure with several levels on the mezzanines. The belt transporter with inclination ensures a continuous flow of goods and variability in handling goods of different shapes and sizes.
When we offer a turnkey solution for a customer’s warehouse based on conveyor equipment, we consider the customer’s needs first and foremost. So if you need an efficient solution for lifting and lowering goods over short distances, for lowering or lifting to the upper floor, we recommend the vertical conveyor. And for lifting and lowering goods along the mezzanine floor over long distances, we recommend the belt transporter. Leave a request and we find a solution that meets your warehouse needs.
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