While vertical reciprocating conveyors (VRCs) are often robust, heavy contraptions with significant moving power, you may be more interested in a vertical lift that takes up less space while still allowing for major material movement at higher levels. Enter the continuous vertical conveyor (CVC), a lift designed to reach higher elevations.
More often than not, CVCs are utilized as a part of a larger system inside a fulfillment center or manufacturing process. Such centers typically utilize more than the floor space for material movement and need to move goods from one level to the next, requiring a vertical lift that can move seamlessly between elevations. There are two types of continuous vertical conveyors that can provide such smooth movement between levels: belt conveyors and spiral conveyors.
A belt conveyor can be used as either an incline or decline, and is a great option for maintaining high throughputs. However, belt conveyors can take up a significant amount of space, as they cannot incline or decline at a straight angle. Typically, belt conveyors cannot exceed anywhere from 12–30 degrees in pitch. At 12 degrees, we get a ratio of about 2.55 inches of elevation change for every 12 inches of horizontal travel. At 30 degrees, we get a ratio of about 6.93 inches of elevation change for every 12 inches of horizontal travel. In either case, a belt conveyor cannot go straight up or down, and thus will need to take up potentially valuable real estate on the floor of your facility.
While the pros and cons of a spiral conveyor are similar to those of a belt conveyor, the linear space requirements are far lower. The spiral conveyor also offers the highest throughput option that also provides accumulation.
Comparing VRCs and CVCs
In the case of a VRC, we have a single platform, upon which a conveyor can be mounted, that reciprocates between levels. In other words, the same platform can travel from the first level to the second level and back. A VRC can address the need for quick elevation changes with an expectation of no more than about 3 cases per minute (CPM).
If your throughput is climbing higher than that, then a CVC may be the better option for your facility. While VRC can only take on a maximum of 3 cases per minute, a CVC can take on throughputs of 10-15 cases per minute. This is accomplished through multiple conveyor beds driven by the same chain, all of which travel on a vertical loop. It’s worth noting that the CVC comes with more engineering and controls, making the CVC a more complex method of changing levels within a system. Still, a CVC becomes necessary in higher throughput scenarios.
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