This project was brought to the school administration with the intent on designing an alternative method to raise production line items on a conveyor belt at ground level to a conveyor that is positioned overhead. Research performed by the team led to a large variety of methods for lifting anything from raw material to uniquely shaped boxes. For the purpose of the project, the team chose to focus on simple rectangular boxes typically seen in a distribution facility.
Assessment of Needs:
Distribution of a survey to packaging and shipping facilities led the group to find that the standard methods for lifting such boxes was either an inclined ramp or spiral ramp conveyor, pictured below. The spiral design is currently the best replacement for an inclined ramp because it can handle the same "flow rate" of boxes and uses less space. However, the groups research showed that some companies could benefit from ever further space and cost reduction because they were less concerned with the number of boxes per hour.
Pictured: Ramp conveyor (left), Spiral conveyor (right)
The solution the team came to was to design a machine capable of lifting boxes vertically made with components entirely of existing technologies. To lift vertically, the machine needed a simple control system to index the boxes to be properly timed. Further details on design features see the next tab.