Article by The journal of controlled mechanical power

Tectra Automation, through its system integrator Vertex Automation, has supplied a complete conveyor system for use at an explosives manufacturing plant in eKandustria, Bronkhorstspruit. Vertex was contracted by the explosives manufacturer to design, supply, construct and install two complete conveyor systems, including the scada system, in its new detonator assembly plant.

According to Koos Smit, Vertex managing director, the company elected to source the products from Tectra Automation because, “Our client needed a system that is reliable, simple, offers fast cycle times, and is easy to maintain. A further requirement was for locally available spares to avoid lengthy downtime.

“We have had a mutually beneficial relationship with Tectra Automation for the past eight years and the team has always offered us excellent support, as well as a reliable and high quality product range,” says Smit.

Hardware used

Tectra Automation supplied the aluminium profile, servo motors and drives, linear modules, and the Bosch Rexroth VarioFlow modular conveyor system with mat top chain. The conveyors have been designed for application in the food and beverage, pharmaceutical, packaging, and industrial handling industries.

Georg Venter, divisional manager at Tectra Automation, says that this was the first South African installation of the Rexroth VarioFlow conveyor system. “This project will be an excellent reference site for this product. The system is characterised by excellent performance, flexibility and durability and offers various chain types to suit different application needs. Due to its modularity it can be quickly assembled. For this project, once the hardware arrived from Germany sub-assembled, assembly took a mere three days,” says Venter.

Smit worked closely with Rexroth engineers in designing and constructing the system. “I spent time in Germany with the Rexroth team to ensure that we built the perfect system. This collaboration reinforces Tectra Automation’s commitment to excellence and is just another reason that we selected them to work with,” says Smit.

The total design to installation time of the first conveyor system took approximately 14 months.

Faster cycle times without robots

“There were a number of unique aspects to the project,” says Smit. “One was the customer’s requirements for fast cycle times. Normally such systems use robots pick and placement on the conveyor. However, time is wasted as the robots reposition themselves for a new pick-up.”

Vertex Automation designed a conveyor solution that negated the use of robots, using a specially developed rotating head to deliver the faster cycle times.

“A further challenge was the length of the conveyor. In this instance, the length required that the conveyor be split in two. This can present a problem because the drives need to be perfectly synchronised. However, with the VarioFlow system, two conveyors were joined together by a special connection drive, using half the required amount of chain, ensuring less noise and better operation.”

Both systems have been completed and are currently in production.