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Warner Electric clutches maximise speed of distribution picking/dispensing system

Streamlining order delivery is an effective way to meet customer demand. To achieve this, distribution centres rely on large scale automation.

Warner Electric clutches maximise speed of distribution picking/dispensing system
The SFM VAR Series of electromagnetic single-disc friction clutch has a compact design offering a nominal torque of 20 Nm.

For many, this means operating custom high-speed picking/dispensing systems. These feature multiple conveyors that automatically dispense orders to specific areas, ready for delivery. To improve the speed of its newly designed picking/dispensing system, one conveyor OEM turned to Warner Electric to provide fast switching electromagnetic clutches.

Sorting orders via automation improves the speed at which they travel through a distribution centre, which ensures a reduced delivery time. In sectors where demand is consistently high, such as food and beverage, the market pressure to provide quick delivery is constant. As a result, custom automated systems are vitally important, allowing distribution centres to achieve time savings.

The main constituents of these systems are conveyors. Stretching throughout the distribution centre, multiple conveyors move orders from one area to another. To sort products bound for different destinations within the centre, conveyors at the end of the line will be fitted with stopper bars. These strategically open and close, either to hold back orders or to let them pass onto the next appropriate conveyor. This constitutes a picking/dispensing system.

An important metric for these picking/dispensing systems is speed of selection. The faster a system can select orders and move them to the correct destination, the better. Increasing the speed of selection means that an order moves through the system faster, which, with thousands of individual items, provides a substantial compound time saving. Consequently, delivery times are improved.

Boosting speed of selection is a key objective for distribution centres, so many invest in new picking/dispensing systems. Specifying a more proficient system may initially translate to increased cost, but improved speed of selection will ensure that the purchase price is offset in the long-term due to efficiency cost savings. It is a case of exploiting the increased system performance to deliver an improved return on investment (ROI). This desire is transmitted directly to conveyor OEMs, who are required to design more efficient picking/dispensing systems to unlock these benefits for distribution centres.

As it embarked on the design process for a new picking/dispensing system for a distribution customer, a European conveyor OEM noticed that its stopper bars were an area where operational speeds could be improved. To enable this, they approached Warner Electric, a global designer and manufacturer of electromagnetic clutches to provide a solution.

In the system, clutches are installed on the computer controlled electric motors that raise and lower the stopper bars in the correct sequence. For this installation, the clutch would be attached to a shaft that would rotate at 40 rpm.

An electromagnetic clutch is ideal for this application. First of all, electromagnetic clutches offer fast switching, which provides time savings when opening and closing the stopper bar. Additionally, its design makes it easy to install, with a 2-wire connection allowing simple integration into the control system.

The solution selected by Warner Electric for the application was a modified SFM VAR Series electromagnetic single-disc friction clutch. A compact design offering a nominal torque of 20 Nm, the SFM VAR Series can be easily installed. Furthermore, it offers no backlash in operation.

Warner Electric clutches maximise speed of distribution picking/dispensing system
Streamlining order delivery is an effective way to meet customer demand. To achieve this, distribution centres rely on large scale automation and operate custom high-speed picking/dispensing systems.

Working closely with the OEM, Warner Electric engineers tailored the design to suit the system, including the addition of a special hub to interface directly with equipment.

With the clutches installed, the newly designed system had the ability to dispense a considerably higher number of orders per hour. This provided the distribution centre with an improved speed of selection and consequently, ROI. This also meant that orders could reach their destinations faster than ever.

As a leading brand of Altra Industrial Motion Corp., Warner Electric provides global engineering support to conveyor OEMs. As a designer and manufacturer of electromagnetic clutches, Warner Electric delivers customised solutions that enable efficiency benefits, working closely with customers during the design phase to ensure seamless integration. This allows conveyor OEMs to specify optimum components to improve speed and reliability for their customers.


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