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Conveyor technology: Are you thinking differently?

With new distribution requirements and more investment in automation underway, Modern set out to find how readers are now approaching the use of conveyors and sortation systems.
By Bob Trebilcock, Executive Editor
April 01, 2013

What matters to readers
The old adage that you can’t manage what you don’t measure is beginning to be applied to conveyor and sortation systems. A third of respondents indicated they are now using metrics to assess their conveying systems. Most are using more than one metric. The most commonly cited include:

  • 71% are measuring maintenance costs
  • 66% are measuring error rates
  • 63% are measuring the man hours required to operate the facility
  • 59% are measuring the units moved on an hourly or daily basis
  • 59% are measuring time savings
  • 54% are measuring energy efficiencies.

Since conveyor and sortation systems are mission critical to a distribution center, respondents were asked what factors were most important in the purchase of a conveyor system. It comes as no surprise that ease of maintenance (98%), reliability (98%), price (98%), uptime (97%) and design flexibility (96%) were listed as very important or somewhat important.

At the same time, 54% say they are willing to pay more for reliability, 52% say they are willing to pay more for ease of repair and maintenance, and 51% say they are willing to pay more for design flexibility.

At the other end of the spectrum, only 29% are willing to pay extra for a quieter conveyor system and only 24% are willing to pay extra for faster lead times.

Since item-level handling, faster turnaround times and mixed SKU palletizing show every indication of increasing in use, Modern expects to see the adoption of more automation in the future. We will revisit these questions in next year’s survey to see how they are impacting conveyor and sortation going forward.

Read last year’s Conveyor Survey Results.

About the Author

Bob Trebilcock
Executive Editor

Bob Trebilcock, executive editor, has covered materials handling, technology and supply chain topics for Modern Materials Handling since 1984. More recently, Trebilcock became editorial director of Supply Chain Management Review. A graduate of Bowling Green State University, Trebilcock lives in Keene, NH. He can be reached at 603-357-0484.


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