Australis Engineering was recently awarded a Patent for the design of a new fully automated conveyor Guide Rail System.

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The Problem

Australis first began manufacturing conveyors in 1983 and a key element of conveyor design for many industry sectors is the implementation of a Guide Rail System to ensure products remain stable while being conveyed along a production line. Thirty years ago, guide rail systems were manually adjusted. Manual adjustment of the guide rails permits a manufacturer to run multiple product sizes on the same conveyor line and hence increase plant productivity. The classic example of this soft drinks that may be produced in 600ML, 1.25L and 2L bottles.  With the use of  a Guide Rail System, the difference in height, weight and diameter of these bottles would mean completely different conveyor lines are necessary to allow all three products to be conveyed on the one line. The above example of course works on numerous other products as well including cans, jars, boxes – virtually anything.

However the trouble with traditional, manually adjusted guide rails has always been the time taken for the manual adjustment of the guide rails. Manual adjustment is time consuming and results in production lines stopping until the entire line has been changed from Product A to Product B. From experience, we know that manually adjusting a 20 metre conveyor with manual guide rails can easily take over 30 minutes. This downtime is very costly, especially when you have production targets to meet. The down time could be even higher if you have a conveyor system that is elevated (a common occurrence with air conveyors) – plus there can be serious OHS implications with staff working at heights. Some manual systems also have change parts and so if you have new products being developed for market, the additional cost of new change parts may be another factor that limits the benefit of a manual guide rail system.

Overcoming these shortfalls has seen manufacturers develop a range of semi-automated guide rail systems. In fact Australis first designed a semi-automated solution in the mid 1990’s that allowed a Client to implement guide rail changeovers from a single point in the plant. Our initial semi-automated guide rail system was called Ezy-Change and it’s been successfully used for almost 20 years in numerous facilities in Australia and internationally. The Ezy-Change system could achieve the 20 metre conveyor line changeover in less than 5 minutes – a big improvement on the traditional systems, but still a significant time factor in high volume production environments.

Patented Technology

Based on this previous conveyor, line control and guide rail experience, Australis recently developed a new and patented Ezy-Change Automatic Guide Rail System (Patent No. – 2015100359) which is fully automated and self-adjusting. The new system incorporates some new materials that allow for greater flexibility with guide rail brackets, but most importantly our automated system utilises a series of sensors that detect the size of a product as it enters the conveyor line. The sensors are linked to a PLC which automatically adjusts the guide rail width within seconds. This results in a virtually seamless transition from Product A to Product B with effectively ZERO changeover time. Our patented design also means the system is more future-proof, because the guide rails can be adjusted for any product size within the maximum and minimum guide bracket widths.

These benefits mean you can lift production rates as you can all but eliminate production downtime resulting from guide rail changeovers. In cases where you have elevated conveyor lines, this can result in substantial cost savings and a reduction in OHS issues.

In short …

Australis Engineering’s patented, automated guide rails are:

  • Fully automatic – with sensors that detect the size of each product and adjust the guide rails to suit
  • Adjust to virtually any product size (within the maximum and minimum widths)
  • Have a single point of adjustment
  • Offer PLC or Push-button control
  • Allow guide rail changeovers in just seconds
  • Easily retro-fitted to most existing conveyor lines, or easily integrated into new conveyor systems.

For more information on Ezy-Change Automatic Guide Rails, click HERE.