How will COVID 19 affect the Conveyor Systems market?

The conveyor systems market is nearly always on a growth curve. And even with the current COVID 19 crisis, expectations for future growth are still high. Ultimation President, Richard Canny, explains the reasons that conveyor manufacturers are looking ahead. The material handling segment will see some changes.
“The most obvious factor is the rapid shift to e-commerce purchasing channels. The shift away from bricks and mortar stores to online stores was already fast. But in the conveyor systems market we are seeing B2B buyers adopt the same shift rapidly. Online sales of quick-ship conveyors like belt conveyors and roller conveyors is strong”.
Many Ultimation customers are companies that are growing fast through e-commerce channels themselves. “They need smart and lean supply chains. This is driving continued investment in conveyors and automation. This is happening with companies of all sizes. But in the floor conveyor segment, we are seeing very fast growth in motor driven roller systems. These conveyors have built in lean-logic. It enables automatic buffer movement of product” said Canny.

Micro distribution centers coming to your neighborhood?

Ultimation predicts that some of the present enormous scale distribution facilities will change. Some facilities like those used by Amazon will transition to smaller micro distribution centers. Micro distribution centers will be smaller. They will also be closer to the end user customer locations. Using predictive logic for which items to stock reduces space. They will also customize items in stock to the real time demand in that geographic area.
The conveyors utilized in micro distribution centers will be more flexible and lower speed. They will be designed for interaction with both humans and robots. Cobots will share the same compact spaces and assist team members with their work.
Oversize parcel handling is also changing the conveyor systems market. This is also true for the Fedex and UPS delivery systems that move them to customer locations. Fedex recently announced rate increases for oversize, difficult to handle packages. This is due to a surge in these type of shipments. Ultimation’s motor-driven roller conveyor systems are ready to handle these. Using pre-engineered modules, zones can range up to ten feet. E-commerce delivery of large, perishable products like garden plants represents a huge challenge. Yet this is also an opportunity for conveyor systems and parcel delivery companies.
Conveyor manufacturers are wary of the risks of a second wave of COVID 19 infections. According to Canny, “We are seeing customers focus on quick solutions rather than projects that might take 12+ months to install. Everyone wants to be as cautious as possible right now”.

New Video: How to build an Overhead Conveyor


Ultimation is selected as ‘Great Place to Work’ in Metro Detroit

The conveyor systems industry is growing–literally! Great teamwork helps Ultimation build customized material handling solutions for the vertical farming industry. Innovative, hard-working team members like Jenni Collins are the reason we were named one of “2019 Metro Detroit’s Best and Brightest Companies to Work For”.

Ultimation CEO, Jacqueline Canny is grateful for her strong team, commenting “It’s our people that have enabled our fantastic growth. Senior leaders like Jenni in the customer service management role are critical in ensuring each interaction helps build our brand.”


Jenni Collins Ultimation


Jenni leads a team of customer service specialists at Ultimation who focus on the company’s ‘quick ship product range’.

Ultimation is Finalist in Amazon Small Business Awards

Ultimation has been selected as a finalist in Amazon’s inaugural Small Business Awards. The company is one of six finalists in the category for Woman-Owned Small Business of the Year. The Amazon Small Business of the Year program is designed to spotlight some of the small businesses that are demonstrating the benefits that small business can achieve by selling on Amazon.

Ultimation CEO, Jacqueline Canny was quoted by Amazon saying “I’m a strong believer in U.S. Manufacturing and the value of  Made in the USA products. Our conveyor and material handling manufacturing business is in Metro Detroit, so we know how to get great stuff made. We’re proud to say that about 70% of our sales team are female. With the focus on relentless improvements in process and products, our formula to success is pretty simple. Made in the USA products, sold directly to the end customer, shipped quickly and with the best pricing.”

Amazon small business awards

Now that the finalists are announced, the public will have an opportunity to vote for the winner. Voting is open until November 8th 2019. You can learn more about the Amazon Awards and vote for Ultimation by following this link.

Ultimation’s primary business segments are larger conveyor systems, however in recent years the company has expanded into smaller, ‘quick ship’ products and systems that are sold through the company’s own website and through the Amazon channel. The intense measurement systems from Amazon and relentless customer focus of the Amazon process have enabled Ultimation to improve their ISO 9001 quality process and continually improve customer satisfaction.

Can conveyors improve yield for vertical farming systems?

Vertical farms or indoor farms have the potential to achieve great efficiency in food production, promising less use of water and delivering fresh food produced efficiently from nearby geographic locations. However challenges remain – and conveyors and better vertical farming technology will likely be part of any economically viable solution.

What is vertical farming?

Vertical farming is a system for food production that is typically used in indoor farming systems. They work with surfaces or modules to hold the plants in position while they are in an environment where all growth factors are controlled. By controlling the light, temperature, humidity, water and nutrients that plants receive, indoor vertical farming can potentially achieve higher yields for a given surface area dedicated to production.

Conveyors are sometimes used in indoor farming to optimize the density of the plants as they grow and to move the plants through automated systems to reduce labor in planting and harvesting. High efficiency LED lights have greatly enabled more efficient vertical farming technology. However replicating the efficiency of the sun remains a major challenge that indoor farming companies hope to achieve through improved control of all other plant growth variables.

Conveyors for Indoor farming

Types of Conveyors used by Indoor Farming Companies

Ultimation has supplied conveyors and equipment for vertical farming companies ranging from small gravity and belt conveyors from our “quick ship” product range up to major overhead power and free conveyor systems to support commercial scale production. Conveyor types used in vertical farming are:

  • Gravity roller conveyors
  • Belt conveyors
  • Skate wheel or flow rail conveyors
  • Overhead monorail conveyors
  • Power and Free Conveyors

How do vertical farming systems work?

Vertical farming systems require great efficiency – volume each plant occupies, the energy to move product around, labor, ventilation systems, lighting and nutrients. Conveyors enable that efficiency of each resource to be optimized as much as possible. Ultimation’s customers include several of the leading vertical farming companies. The technology used by these vertical farming companies is typically top secret and therefore we’re not able to publicly show or talk in detail about the various types of conveyors that are used in vertical farming systems.

Automation for vertical indoor farms

Conveyors and industrial automation equipment used in vertical farming automation systems can include many of the traditional conveyor types such as gravity roller conveyors, belt conveyors and skate wheel or flow rail conveyors. But more recently the technology used in larger systems is including motorized conveyor systems and overhead conveyors. Power and Free conveyors are the ultimate in space and volume optimization for vertical farming systems as they enable tight concentration of product in some areas while then enabling separation of the products as and when required for movement to processing areas.

Indoor farm technology – Squeezing more plants into less space

Ultra high density vertical farming systems aim to optimize plant production relative to the productive space employed for the task. Conveyors are essential in that optimization process to use all the available vertical space of a facility. Vertical farming automation can enable spacing to change as plants grow throughout a facility. Technology used can include robots as well as overhead conveyors, floor conveyors and specialized plant processing equipment.

Food safe materials and lubricants are used for all vertical farming conveyor systems. Ultimation has experience with the various different requirements and the available food-safe conveyor lubricants, oils and greases that can safely be used in these environments. Vertical farms can help reduce “food miles” which is the distance that food items travel from the point of production to the table. High volume indoor farms located near to major consumption areas have the potential to reduce CO2 emissions from transport as well as deliver fresher and better tasting products.

Interested in vertical farming technology and vertical farming equipment? Contact Ultimation today at [email protected] or call us on +1-586-771-1881 to discuss your requirements.

If you’d like general help  learning about conveyors, which types to use and how to specify them? This step by step guide will help.