Conveyor systems for finished parts and residual material are standard in state-of-the-art production. For only with their help can these expensive machines produce without interruption. Decisive for this is the great reliability of all components. This is no different in sheet metal processing than in chipping operations. Only the demands are different.
Thus, for example, the transport belts must master special challenges during laser cutting. For along the way, hot fluid cut material comes into contact with the conveyor systems. This is a situation that most common strap hinge conveyors on the market cannot always manage. The problem: the metal drops and dust can get into gaps and joints, which then makes these subject to wear and difficult to move. In addition, the extremely hot material heats up the hinge belts and bends these so much that they are distorted and fail. In the end, the belt destroys itself.
KNOLL plate conveyors manage such difficult circumstances as well as possible. They are harmed neither by the hardening of the liquid laser material nor by the heat. Numerous field experiments and customer deployments have proven this over the last five years. Decisive here is a constructive design without the classic hinges. The state-of-the-art KNOLL conveyors also get soiled, but the joints are not damaged in the process. The slatted plate belt distinguishes itself with great resistance to wear.
Also important: the profiled plates have no closed joint that connects them to one another. They only touch each other due to line contact. This ensures that the joint friction is minimal and the individual plates can move axially with respect to one another. Therefore, a local heating up due to hot material can cause an elongation of the plates, but it causes no damage.
Last but not least, for this reason, the plate conveyors are also suitable for other types of production such as cold forming. For although it's called cold forming, things get pretty hot in the process. The parts processed reach temperatures of 200 to 300 °C after forming. High temperatures – however, these can't do anything to the KNOLL systems.
Similarly interesting is the principle of the slatted plate belts when sheet metal that is just 0.5 mm thick is processed with punch-nibbling machines. With this application, strap hinge conveyors also meet their limits. Various experiments have shown that the extremely thin punch-nibbling waste constantly gets caught in the numerous slots and gaps of the hinge belts. A reliable removal of finished parts and residual material is therefore just as difficult as during laser processing. Due to its construction, the slatted plate belt can manage the sharp and thin cut goods with ease.
For a while already, the state-of-the-art KNOLL conveyor belt has been used successfully in so-called bunker dosing and removal systems. Here, the concern is to place parts produced, e.g. as bulk material, into a slatted plate belt bunker. Depending on the fill level, this buffer storage feeds bulk materials into vibration conveyor feed systems. What once required personnel to perform frequent manual filling is thus automated.
The challenge: the belts frequently run upward at a steep angle of 0 to 75 degrees. Since the KNOLL slatted plate belts are sharply profiled, the system guarantees the best possible material carriage even in these cases.
In accordance with the good results, Michael Ruderisch, Development Department Manager at KNOLL, reports that customer feedback from all industries is completely positive: "The durability of our plate conveyor is praised, as is its service friendliness. Therefore, some belts produced early on have never been replaced, despite demanding applications. They have been in service for nearly five years."
If, nevertheless, there is damage to individual belt plates, this is no problem. They can be replaced easily and quickly without any additional reconstruction measures. For in contrast to strap hinge conveyors, they are screwed together individually. There is no need to disconnect joint rods and then patch in a piece of belt. With the slatted plate belt, the screws can be loosened easily from above with a rechargeable screwdriver, a new plate inserted and joined with the same self-tapping screw that was used previously.
The KNOLL plate conveyor is built in modular fashion, and it is available in the sizes P40 and P63. The description corresponds to the division of the chain. With respect to the usable width of the conveyor, that is, the plate length, customers can select from preferred sizes from 140 mm to 2000 mm.
The plate elements used feature a continuous profile that is produced using a roll forming method. On the one hand, the contour created this way has great bending stiffness. Thus, the slated plate belt absorbs a 100 kg load on a 1 m wide section of belt and can be walked on without any supports. On the other hand, the contour of the plates prevents any gap formation against the running direction.
If the system will be used for wet processing, perforated plates can be used. This way, the belt functions almost as a pre-filter and lets (only) the cooling lubricant pass through.