Parcel Handling

Couriers

Gear Drive Selection Process for the Parcel Handling Industry

Adam Soder, Chesapeake VA Engineering Department


When we receive a package in the mail, we never really stop to think about how it made it to our mailbox. We are just glad that it is here without any damage and the contents of the package are not harmed. But for a package to get from point ‘A’ to point ‘B’, there are many factors that make the process work. From making sure the mailing addresses are correct, to meeting the required delivery date, everything needs to operate seamlessly to keep the end user satisfied.



In most, if not all, sorting facilities, there are miles and miles of conveyor systems and all play an important role in making sure all orders are processes accurately. The conveyor systems are broken up into different sections based on their function. Some examples are mainline and box line conveyors, but there are also systems in which are used to sort the packages from one conveyor to the other depending on their destination. In all of the systems a reliable gearbox is required to keep the operation running smoothly.

The gearboxes must also be able to withstand the demands of the facility. The most important requirement of the gearboxes is that they must be reliable. In the sorting areas, many of the gearboxes are used intermittently and need to be able to stand up to frequent starting and stopping. If one gearbox cannot take the abuse, and fails, the downtime required for the repair, could disrupt the entire flow of the distribution center. For when the inevitable happens, and a box does fail, the new replacement box needs to available as soon as possible. The shipping companies cannot afford to be down for an extended period of time. An example of a high demand for shipping facilities is during the holiday season. With the growth and popularity of on-line shopping, the amount of packages being shipped gets greater and greater every passing year. With this growth, the need for more and more gearboxes grows just as much. The Christmas holiday season starts right after Thanksgiving, and goes all the way to the end of December. Most online retailers offer many discounted prices, and consumers take advantage of them, and make the purchases as soon as they can. The retailers also may offer guaranteed delivery by Christmas day, and for the late shoppers, this is a must. The shipping companies bust me able to meet the demands of the extra packages that must be delivered.

“How do I select the correct gearbox for my application?”

When selecting the appropriate gearbox, there are a few points that must be taken into consideration. Firstly there are the environmental factors that must be taken into account, namely the ambient temperature. Temperature data should be collected to get an idea of what temperatures the unit will be encountering during its everyday usage. Next is to determine the operation that the gearbox will be performing. Sorters, Feed belts, and diverters are just a few of the operations required in the facility. Each different operation has it own set of requirements that each gearbox needs to meet in order to select the correct product.

For example, sorters and diverters will see a lot of start and stop operation. The sorters and diverters are mounted underneath the mainline of the conveyor, and when trigged, small rollers or plates are moved to change the direction of the packages that are moving so they go to the correct area. That constant on/off scenario, with many load variations can wreak havoc on a gearbox. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the feed belts are running for long amounts of time under varying loading conditions. The feed belts normally run constantly, with little or no downtime. They serve as the main drive belt that all the sorters and diverters run off of. Depending on the size of the packages, the belt can see a wide range of loads from very light,

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