Category Archives: Material Handling

ip_line_news_img

A robust and intricate conveyor line

Our customer was using an automatic guided vehicle (AGV) that didn’t have any powered conveyor. They needed a machine that could move 500 pound, 30- by 60-inch pallets from the AGV to an operator workstation. Tuff Automation custom-designed the conveyor pictured above to solve the problem.

A Tuff solution

The machine we designed does a lot in a small amount of space. Our engineers and parts fabricators had to be efficient and precise in their work. Furthermore, the finished product needed to withstand heavy-duty part handling 24/7. Tuff Automation is uniquely equipped to handle these requirements.

Here’s what’s included in this complex line:

  • Six-strand chain transfer with lift and extend mechanism – This transfer handles three pallets at a time and uses an electric drive and pneumatic lift. The extender reaches into the AGV, lifts three pallets simultaneously, and conveys them into the conveyor line.
  • CDLR conveyor with accumulationPneumatic blade stops accumulate and meter pallets. The rollers are covered with Ultrex sleeves to handle accumulating pallets.
  • Tip-up/positioning mechanism – This part of the line pneumatically tilts 25 degrees at the operator unload station. A pneumatic clamping mechanism positions the pallet at a 25 degree tilt, and secures it for operator unload.
  • Two-strand chain transfer with lift and extend mechanism - This extender picks a single empty pallet off the conveyor line and extends to deliver it into the AGV.
The six-strand chain transfer extending into the AGV.
The six-strand chain transfer extending into the AGV.

Custom designs, custom solutions

Our lead times are highly competitive, and we use only materials of the highest quality. If you have questions about how Tuff Automation can customize a product for you, contact us.

Want to stay up to date on the latest projects at Tuff? Sign up for our email newsletter.







transfers newsletter

Re-route product with a Tuff transfer

Transfers are ideal for reducing conveyor floor space, because they can reroute product 90 degrees without requiring large conveyor curves. Tuff Automation designs, builds, and integrates transfers to optimize the flexibility of your conveyor systems.

Efficient, space-saving product redirection

Tuff transfers are custom built to fit your application. They can be mounted to any kind of live roller conveyor. They can be inserted into standard line shaft conveyor (1.9) with rollers on three-inch centers without modification, meaning you don’t have to buy special conveyor sections to accommodate them.

Durable and gentle material handling

Our belt transfers are ideal for product that needs to be handled more gently—the belts don’t mar product. Our transfers are typically pneumatically actuated, utilize DC or AC conveyor motors, and can incorporate as many strands as necessary. Tuff transfers offer torsion bar design for smooth, level operation, and they are easy to maintain with simple belt change-out.

Custom designs, custom solutions

Our lead times are highly competitive, and we use only materials of the highest quality. If you have questions about how Tuff Automation can customize a transfer for you, contact us or request a quote online.

Tuff does build lines

build_line

Tuff Automation has made build lines for a few different companies, and we have experience in every part of the process. We specialize in outfitting build lines with custom controls, programming, and pneumatics.

Structure and customization

Build line projects start with the bare bones from a company that supplies modular design solutions. They provide conveyor, lifts, structural components and more. Then we put the lines together to customer specifications and integrate the necessary hardware. Tuff can also provide custom bracketry as necessary, making the final product as suited to customer needs as possible.

Then we make it all work.

Plumbing and controls

Tuff installs all the wiring and pneumatics required to get the machine running and the components functioning.

Tuff also provides controls and programming. We can incorporate torque tools with or without reaction arm feedback, cameras, function testers, FAM units, ovens, pallet lock/unlockers, barcode readers, RF read/write, and reporting to SQL servers for production monitoring. Model year changes are included.

Turnkey solutions

Finally, Tuff will provide complete installation, runoff, and support for our build lines.

If you have further questions, or if you have any other material handling equipment needs, contact us by phone at (616) 735-3939 or email at sales@tuffautomation.com.

stacker

Improve storage density with a Tuff stacker

Tuff stackers can be customized to stack or destack any kind of pallet, tote or container, keeping material organized and your employees safe from injury.

How they work

Stackers are large machines that move pallets or bulk materials into vertical stacks for shipping or improved storage density. Destackers perform the opposite action, individually moving materials from the bottom of a stack onto a conveyor.

Customized stacker designs to meet your needs

Tuff Automation builds automated stackers and destackers to match any specification. Tuff stackers are ideal for handling and organizing standard or custom pallet designs, as well as many stackable raw materials, and can be integrated with or without controls.

Tuff stackers can run with pneumatic, electric, or hydraulic power. Stacking and destacking speeds can be customized from 2-3 units per hour to several parts per minute.

Check out one of our stackers in action:

newsletter-1

The ultimate in conveyor versatility

Add flexibility to your material handling system with a Tuff extendable conveyor

Static conveyors can only offer so much flexibility, and if you are working with different part sizes on a day-to-day basis, they may not be the best candidate for the job.

Move product dynamically

Extendable conveyors offer the flexibility that a standard conveyor lacks. They also promote safety. In addition to fostering a speedier loading and unloading process, extendable conveyors minimize the need for operators to carry heavy materials and make working conditions more ergonomic.

Tuff Automation designs, builds, and integrates extendable conveyors of all shapes, sizes, colors, and other specifications you might have.

newsletter-2

Extendable conveyors in action

Tuff designed an extendable conveyor to integrate in a sheet metal stamping process. The conveyor (pictured above) has two belts that can be set to run at different speeds. Parts enter the conveyor at an angle, and the two belts straighten them out as they travel.

This particular conveyor is manually operated and can be moved in, out, up and down. The speeds of each belt can be adjusted, which makes this conveyor incredibly versatile and capable of handling parts of all different shapes and sizes.

This conveyor tangibly improved the processes at the customer’s facility. They reported that their Overall Equipment Effectiveness improved by 25 percent, and the conveyor cut their process timein half. Maintenance is also a lot easier—replacing the belts on these conveyors only takes 30 minutes. The process engineer said it takes longer to take the belts out of the crib than it does to replace them!

What you get with a Tuff extendable conveyor

Tuff extendable conveyors have a number of different features that optimize flexibility and convenience for you.

  • Speeds up to 450 ft/min
  • Solid construction
  • 2-year warranty on parts
  • Can be stationary mounted or with casters
  • Come in standard or nonstandard lengths and widths
  • Can have powered or manual extension
  • Come in your choice of belt
img_2156

This lift lasts

Pneumatic Lifts

High-cycle lift processes don’t have to mean short equipment lifespans. Pneumatic lifts are a long-lasting, cost-effective alternative to scissor lifts. They’re a perfect high-cycle solution, made in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

More powerful than a scissor lift

Ordinary scissor lifts are rated for a lifetime of approximately 200,000 cycles. The vertically mounted cylinders on our pneumatic lifts make possible a lifetime of several million cycles. If your application exceeds a cycle time of 45 cycles per hour or 500 cycles per day, you’ll see the return on investment on a pneumatic lift in no time.

Robust, custom design from Tuff

Tuff’s pneumatic lift is simple. It’s a direct lift design that significantly reduces side loading forces. Pneumatic lifts are easy to position precisely—which makes them an excellent fit for automatic loading or unloading applications.

Tuff lifts are typically designed to handle between 500 and 3,000 pounds, but we can customize them to handle even heavier loads. We also offer a model that is powered by an electric motor to facilitate longer strokes, multiple precise positions and specific applications.

Best of all, they require minimal work to maintain. Tuff lifts are made with off-the-shelf components, making part replacement easy and inexpensive.

img_3974

Rugged environment, rugged machinery

Our customer needed a Tuff conveyor for their robot cell. It had to work through a lot of machining debris and withstand the weight of several raw engine block castings.

We developed a two-strand top roller chain conveyor. Raw castings travel from a machining station along the conveyor, accumulate using indexing stops, and are positioned using a lift and locate device.  Once located, they are unloaded by a workstation robot.

The top roller chain conveyor makes heavy duty part accumulation easy, and the design minimizes obstruction by debris.

Custom Designs, Custom Solutions

Have a process that could benefit from rugged equipment like this? We can make one suited to your exact specifications.

Check out our latest top roller chain conveyor in action:

extendable conveyor material handling equipment efficiency

Our conveyors boost productivity

Our goal as a material handling equipment manufacturer is to help our clients make their processes more efficient. How do you measure that? Well, the proof is in the numbers.

An engineering company that designs and manufactures steel automotive parts, came to us for conveyor help. We built them some customized powered extendable conveyor and roller conveyors, which were installed in October.

Since installation, our client’s Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE), which calculates how a machine is expected to run versus how it actually does run, for their machinery has improved by 25 percent, reporting over 95 percent OEE in November.

Our customers were thrilled with the improvements, saying their operators don’t spend nearly as much time fighting with the machinery.

Running two jobs used to take 3 hours, Process Engineer Seth Monroe said, now it only takes 1.5 hours. That’s a 50 percent improvement.

Maintenance has also become easier. Replacing the belts on the extendable conveyors used to take two to three hours. Now it takes 30 minutes.

“It takes longer to get the belts out of the crib than it does to replace them,” Monroe said.

That’s the kind of news we like to hear.

material handling maintenance cdlr chain rollers

Performing maintenance on your material handling equipment

The best thing you can do to keep your material handling equipment running smoothly is to develop a customized maintenance plan. The simplest negligence can lead to extreme machine deterioration over time. But if you periodically make sure every component on your conveyor, lift, over under, or stacker is in good shape, you won’t have to worry about fatal faults at inconvenient times. We have a couple tips on what you should include in your specific maintenance plan.

What follows is intended to be a guide and is by no means all inclusive.

Safety

Before you even worry about what needs to be done to maintain your equipment, you should make sure you are able to do so in a safe manner. This starts with training your personnel.

  • Make sure your designated maintenance workers know how to safely and effectively perform maintenance on each individual component.
  • Make sure they are aware of any maintenance-related hazards they may encounter while performing maintenance.
  • Never allow personnel to perform maintenance while machine is operating. Always follow machine disconnect procedures prior to performing maintenance.
  • Replace all guards and safety measures once maintenance is complete.

Common Maintenance 

Motors

  • Check motors periodically for excessive noise.
  • Monitor the temperature of running motors for excessive heat.
  • Verify all motors are securely fastened, tighten bolts as necessary.

Chains

  • Monitor chains for proper lubrication. Determine frequency of lubrication based on lubricant, usage, and manufacturer recommendations.
  • Check periodically for chain wear. Determine the cause of the wear (hardware malfunction or just normal wear and tear) and address as necessary.
  • Check regularly to make sure chain is operating at appropriate tension. Adjust as necessary.

Sprockets & Rollers

  • Make sure sprockets are properly aligned. Adjust as necessary.
  • Monitor sprockets and rollers for wear. Address as necessary.
  • Periodically apply lubrication to roller bearings. Determine frequency of lubrication based on lubricant, usage, and manufacturer recommendations.
  • Monitor rollers periodically for any bearing noise. Address as necessary.

Belts

  • Check periodically for appropriate belt tension. Adjust as necessary.
  • Monitor belt tracking and adjust as necessary.
  • Check entire belt for wear. Address as necessary.

Bearings

  • Monitor all bearings for excessive noise.
  • Lubricate appropriate bearings as necessary.
  • Check periodically for bearing interference and remove as necessary.

Overall Maintenance

  • Inspect entire machine for bolt tightness and integrity.
  • Remove any interfering debris from moving parts.
  • Keep machinery as clean as possible.

Be proactive in machinery maintenance

Bottom line, paying for extensive repairs on a problem that could have easily been avoided is foolish. Do your future self a favor. Keep up on the maintenance of your machinery.

Tuff Transfer Cart is an automated space saving solution

Production facility floor space is sacred. The more organized and compact you are, the more efficient your production practices are.

Our customer wanted to crowd more conveyor into their existing space to optimize their production facility. Continuing to drive lift trucks through such a tightly packed space would increase the risk for damaged product and equipment. So our customer needed something to facilitate the movement of their product within this tight space while limiting the use of lift trucks. Tuff Automation worked together with Savant Automation to create a transfer cart that would solve their problems.

We constructed the transfer cart with heavy structural steel and laser-cut and formed components. It traveled along a rail embedded in the facility floor, which meant that lift trucks could still be driven in the same space as needed. The cart used an overhead power system, taking up the least amount of space necessary to move products from destination to destination.

The transfer cart had to carry five different products from their respective fill systems to one of two stations—a stretch wrapper or a conveyor that sent them straight to the warehouse. Check out our video of the system in motion:

The final product ended up being an excellent solution to the customer’s needs, getting the job done without trying to squeeze lift trucks through tight spaces.

The transfer cart solution can be used and customized for a number of applications. Contact us to learn more about this system.