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  May 5, 2016
Hytrol and Integration Partner Advanced Equipment Company
by Thomas R. Cutler

Hytrol is a world leader in the design and manufacturing of advanced conveyor systems, controls and solutions for customers with processing, manufacturing, warehousing, and distribution needs. Since founded in 1947, Hytrol has demonstrated an unwavering dedication to understanding the material handling needs of businesses. From a single conveyor unit to a comprehensive material handling system, Hytrol defines best-in-class.

Hytrol is known for innovation, industry-wide for best on-time shipping, and widely respected integration partners. The Hytrol Integration Partner Network is composed of more than 100 locations around the world ready to serve. Each integration partner offers local presence, on-site expertise and instant service that today's businesses require.

One of Hytrol's important integration partners is Advanced Equipment Company. Hytrol Conveyor and AEC (Advanced Equipment Company) have been working together for fifty years. The teams bring together experienced engineers and emerging technologies for integrated material handling systems. AEC professionals are true experts in operational efficiency and integration.

From the start in 1960, material handling systems integration has been at the heart of the AEC business. AEC provides complete automated material handling equipment solutions - from design and delivery, to engineering and implementation. Expert engineers work to develop highly customized automated material handling equipment solutions with minimum interruption to operations.

AEC provides strategic insight that comes only with years in business. The "one client one contact" rule, is unique so customers are never bounced from person to person at AEC, who are assigned one Project Engineer throughout the project.

Scott Hartman, one of the leading AEC material handling specialists, and his team recently helped Morinaga America's Mebane, North Carolina candy manufacturing facility. Morinaga America is charged with introducing the United States to the best of Japanese confectionery and is the sole marketing and distribution channel of Hi-Chew in the U.S. The company needed to design its new conveying and packaging lines; the project was put up for bid. Advanced Equipment Company along with Atlantic Packaging won the bid to do the conveyor and packaging integration.

AEC's challenge was to develop a system that would convey the product from the bagging machines into the check-weighing system which would verify the weight of the bags. From there, the bags of candy were conveyed to an operator station where operators manually unloaded the bags from an upper belt conveyor into display boxes in cartons below on an accumulating conveyor.

Hartman shared, "The upper belt conveyor is at chest level for the manual pickers. They load the bags into display boxes below the work table attached to the lower conveyor. Once those cartons are full, they push them onto conveyors below and release the cartons to be automatically transported down to a 3M Carton Sealer and then out into the warehouse where they're manually palletized for shipment."

While the final solution is a straightforward and efficient system, the road traveled to wind up there posed a challenge. The contractor's initial design was not compatible with Morinaga's stated goal of simplicity and could not get the system up and running as quickly as possible. Hartman noted, "The original design had all belts rather than accumulation conveyor for the cartons and that was a very outdated way of doing carton controls. Today's technology accommodates work flow which greatly improves efficiency." Hartman suggested changing from belts to the Hytrol E24EZ Conveyor.

Hartman said, "We effectively communicated the benefits of accumulation conveyor and were able to change the design for a couple of problem areas. We used the Hytrol E24EZ Conveyor with a special design. The rollers were set lower than usual to accommodate pushing cartons onto the conveyor from the table. One of the benefits of using this system is that it's got an automatic accumulation built into the conveyor - very user-friendly."

In addition to being a superior system for Morinaga's candy conveying, the Hytrol system's simple controls allowed minimal safety oversight.
  • No PLC required for automatic accumulation
  • Very little electrical installation required and
  • Zones only run when needed
  • Zones can be configured for loading or unloading
This user-friendly system went a long way in helping Morinaga get up and running with very minimal interruption to the operation. There are very simplistic controls for the Hytrol E24EZ Conveyor. It allowed a rapid installation, much quicker than doing fancy logic, photo eyes, PLCS.

Since installation on the project finished, Morinaga has been very pleased with the consultation and work that AEC provided. The company is actually discussing upgrading its check-weighing system; Hartman and the AEC team will reconfigure that part of the conveyor system as well.

Thomas R. Cutler is the President & CEO of Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based, TR Cutler, Inc., (www.trcutlerinc.com) Cutler is the founder of the Manufacturing Media Consortium including more than 6000 journalists, editors, and economists writing about trends in manufacturing, industry, material handling, and process improvement. Cutler authors more than 500 feature articles annually regarding the manufacturing sector. Cutler is the most published freelance industrial journalist worldwide and is now the host of Kanbanversation, a weekly episodic video discussion. Cutler can be contacted at trcutler@trcutlerinc.com and can be followed on Twitter @ThomasRCutler. See More Details.

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