Ultimation Awards Third Annual STEM Student Scholarship

A student from Oregon State University is the latest recipient of Ultimation Industries’ annual STEM student scholarship program. For the past three years, the company has awarded a $1,500 stipend to the U.S. college student with the best idea for improving material handling. Ryan Moore is the 2022 scholarship winner for his suggestions to streamline processes in vertical or indoor farming systems.

 

Ryan outlined a plan for managing an entire rack of plants using only a couple of motors and centralized, powered conveyors to transport plant trays. Each plant platform is oriented to vertically move the plants from the storage position to the loading and off-loading positions. The system further streamlined operations by only requiring one watering and feeding position, allowing plants to be taken care of without the need for a complicated plumbing system. According to Ryan, the entire process is also scalable, from just a few plants to hundreds of platforms for plant trays.

2023 STEM Scholarship Winner Ryan Moore

“Vertical farming is quite literally, a growing industry, thanks to innovations that are taking place at a rapid pace,” said Richard Canny, president of Ultimation Industries LLC. “Ideas such as Ryan’s will go a long way toward shaping the future of vertical farming and driving the productivity improvements needed for businesses to thrive.”

 

Ryan’s entry was chosen by the judges from more than 100 applications from around the country. Entries for the 2023 scholarship are now being accepted. Students have until December 15, 2023, to submit their ideas for conveyors for vertical farming applications.

These 2023 Conveyor System Trends Can Help Manufacturers and Distributors Improve Efficiency

The need for faster throughput, increased automation and more efficient use of energy and space influence today’s conveyor system designs

ROSEVILLE, Mich. (Jan. 17, 2023) – Material handling needs are changing as manufacturers and distributors look for ways to keep up with the growth of e-commerce and reduce their environmental impact, according to Ultimation Industries. Faster throughput, increased automation and more efficient use of energy and space are some of the factors that are influencing conveyor system designs in 2023.

Ultimation is the leading direct-to-consumer conveyor manufacturer, specializing in solving productivity challenges with fast-to-deploy solutions for the automotive, food processing, vertical farming, heavy equipment, warehousing, fulfillment and delivery sectors.

“Over the past year, we’ve seen an increase in requests from manufacturers for flexible material handling solutions that allow them to scale quickly and reduce energy consumption…without requiring major capital expenditures,” said Kali Cresent, general manager for Ultimation. “We expect those trends to continue—and even accelerate—into 2023 and beyond.”

24V MDR Conveyor System Trends 2023

Cresent pointed to five growing trends in the conveyor industry:

  1. Moving more with less energy. Increasingly, companies are looking for every opportunity to reduce their energy consumption. An unexpected place to find savings is in material handling systems. Conveyors equipped with motorized driven roller (MDR) systems are an energy-efficient alternative to legacy systems. MDRs operate with 24-volt DC power and only use electricity when they are actively moving cargo. Cresent says a typical 5-foot ­­­­Chain Driven Live Roller (CDLR) conveyor system using approximately 0.75kWh of energy for operation could save up to 81% in energy usage by replacing it with a same-size MDR system. MDRs are also quiet and can handle a multitude of products such as packages, tote bins, pallets, tires, cartons and more.

 

  1. Building up. Companies that need to scale up fast don’t have time to wait for building expansions or the acquisition of additional square footage. Better utilization of vertical space in a warehouse or manufacturing facility through lifters and overhead conveyor systems is an affordable, effective solution that can be deployed relatively quickly. Lifters can help manufacturers and distributors move totes, cartons and pallets from one level to another with carriers designed to handle multiple load weights and sizes. In vertical farming applications, overhead style material handling systems can help with all-important space optimization.

 

  1. Squeezing it in. Seasonal volume increases, unexpected spikes in demand and even sustained high order levels put pressure on manufacturers and distributors to get more mileage out of their existing floor space. For temporary or seasonal situations, flexible and expandable conveyors are an inexpensive investment that can be set up quickly during high volume months. Flexible conveyors can quickly form lines or curves to get materials where they need to be, and easily stored away when they’re not needed. A more permanent option is the addition of fixed, curved conveyors to an existing material handling system. Curves can be used in ascending or descending applications to help minimize the footprint within a multi-tier warehouse.

 

  1. Addressing the need for speed. Higher throughput requirements are driving many manufacturers to explore conveyor options that reach faster speeds without compromising product or people safety. Some industries are taking a page from the airlines’ playbook by incorporating Interroll Portec systems that move more than 4 billion pieces of luggage annually. The speed and durability of Portec systems make them ideal for demanding material handling environments, such as distribution centers, parcel handling operations, food/wine/beverage facilities and vertical farms.

 

  1. Automating processes. The shortage of workers, coupled with the growing adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies means many manufacturers and distributors are turning to automated systems and robotics to meet productivity requirements. Material handling operations are no exception. Systems that integrate with radio frequency identification (RFID) and other technologies provide greater efficiency and improve accuracy. Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMR) or warehouse robots are a good option for manufacturers and distributors of all sizes who need to transfer loads within their facilities quickly and without reconfiguring production lines or factory footprints. They can be deployed wherever and whenever needed, interfacing with existing conveyor systems and providing flexibility as volumes change.

How We Helped: Stories from our Customers

Ultimation has an entire warehouse of great suggestions for solving material handling problems. But our customers are just as creative. They’ve found some great new uses for our in stock, quick-ship products. Here are some recent examples:

That’s how we roll

Roller and Bracket Kayak Transport

After a long day on the lake, the last thing one of our customers wanted to do was load the pontoon fishing boat onto the utility trailer. But a couple of two-packs of 17” rollers and brackets made this task a whole lot easier. And it was gentler on the pontoons.

“Mounted them on 2x4s and voila! Problem solved,” the customer writes. “Easy on and easy off by lifting one end while the other glides along the rollers.”

It’s all in the detail

A customer needed a solution to clean and detail wheels after track day…but didn’t want to spend a lot of money on a commercial set-up. Ultimation’s roller and bracket set earns the checkered flag.

Roller and Bracket Set Wheel Detail

“I mounted these to a piece of wood and they allow me to clean/detail my wheels,” writes the customer. The durable rollers have a 100-pound capacity and the set costs less than $50.

Building a better (truck) bed

Flow Rail Truck Bed Solution

Ultimation’s Flow Rail 5’ long Skate Wheel Conveyor helped one customer make moving materials in and out of a truck bed easier.

“Bought six pieces, cut them to fit my 8-foot bed,” the customer writes. “Works really well for 8-foot drawer boxes.” Another customer says: “I like the fact the material is heavy duty and I’ll be able to cut into 1 foot lengths.”

The weight capacity is 260 pounds per foot when they are fully supported and uniformly loaded.

For more solutions, visit Ultimation’s online store.

Four Good Things Happen When You Motorize Your Old Gravity Roller Conveyor

Retrofit kits can quickly and cost-effectively deliver technology benefits

Companies that have an existing gravity roller conveyor can extend its life and upgrade its function by converting it into a Motor-Driven Roller (MDR) conveyor system.

Making the upgrade involves adding new motorized rollers, motor controllers and power supplies, while keeping current frames and leg supports.  Photo-eye sensors also can be added to move products from zone to zone.

Ultimation offers retrofit kits to convert gravity roller conveyors to MDR conveyors.  The kits come pre-configured to suit existing conveyor frames, making implementation quicker and costs lower than purchasing an entirely new system.

“When it comes to conveyor system updates, sometimes the best solution is to start where you are, rather than from scratch,” says Kali Cresent, Ultimation’s e-commerce general manager.  “Existing conveyor systems can often be updated quickly and cost effectively with a few, simple upgrades through a retrofit kit.”

MDR 10' Long x 24" Wide Shipping Warehouse

Ultimation customers who have made the change to MDR technology have noticed four things:

More productive employees.  The post pandemic staffing crisis continues, with 3.4 million fewer Americans working today compared to February of 2020, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.   Business of all types have had to adjust to constrained workforces.  A distance that requires two or three employees to move product along on a gravity roller conveyor might only require one employee on a MDR conveyor system.

Quiet, energy-efficient operations.  MDR conveyor systems use 24-volt DC technology. The result is a conveyor system that uses electricity very efficiently, only using energy when actively moving cargo. The system also is low-noise, providing a safer and more comfortable workplace.

Simple, plug-and-play installation, maintenance and repair.  The retrofit kits are a simple ‘snap-in’ conversion format.  Installation can be done by end-user maintenance or engineering teams.  In addition, if repairs are needed in the future the modular components can be easily replaced by in-house teams, reducing downtime.

Elimination of product damage and bottlenecks.  MDR conveyors use sensors and controls to ensure packages don’t get damaged by crushing against each other. Loads continue moving along the MDR conveyor until they get close to (but do not touch) the product unit in front. As a result, there are no gaps or bottlenecks in the line.

Ultimation is the leading direct-to-consumer conveyor manufacturer and serves the automotive, food processing, vertical farming, heavy equipment, warehousing, fulfillment and delivery segments.

The retrofit kits, as well as a full range of replacement parts including motors, motor controllers, belts and ready-to-run conveyors are available through the Ultimation online store.  Many conveyors and parts can be shipped the same day.  In addition to the conveyor system components, businesses that are looking for a quick update also can get needed technical support through the Ultimation team.

Connecting with a Global Network for a Sneak Peek at the Future

Providing a conveyor system that perfectly fits the business needs of a small-to-medium sized manufacturer or large distribution center requires a global network.

There’s an ever-growing need for efficiency and automation in most companies to meet growing demands. As a result, today’s material handling and conveyor system requirements are much more advanced. This requires expertise from companies located around the world.

Kali Cresent, general manager, Ultimation Online Sales and Parts, recently traveled more than 8,000 miles to connect with that global network in Düsseldorf, Germany, which Interroll sponsored as part of its Rolling On Interroll® (ROI) partner program.

“Powered roller conveyor systems and components are an important, growing part of the business,” says Kali.  “The partnership is an initiative by Interroll to bring together companies that integrate its products and produce different parts of these systems.  It’s a way to support innovation among companies that have complementary businesses.”

Interroll Academy Huckelhoven-Baal

Powered roller conveyor systems support the revolution underway in manufacturing that some call Industry 4.0, which focuses on innovative, automated processes. Advantages to using power roller conveyor systems are that they are safer, quieter, and easier to maintain. These newer conveyor systems can replace traditional, chain-driven systems that use large, gear motors.

At the conference, the partners got an exclusive sneak preview of new conveyor solutions currently under research and development before going to market.

“Understanding the products that will soon become available is a big advantage to us as we are helping our customers plan for their future needs,” says Kali.

Kali also had the opportunity to tour a couple of Interroll facilities, in addition to taking advantage of training and networking opportunities.

“It was great to see the Interroll manufacturing processes,” says Kali. “It is very clear that they’re passionate about what they do and take great care to deliver a quality product.”

For more information about Ultimation Industries, visit https://www.ultimationinc.com. For more information about Interroll, visit https://www.interroll.com/. For more information about the Rolling On Interroll® (ROI) partner program, visit https://rollingoninterroll.com/.