Hytrol Distributor: WW Munroe Equipment Co. (St. Louis, MO)
A Tailored Installation in Eight Weeks
In less than two months, Hussmann Corp. added a
customized conveyor system that doubled production capacity almost
Product quality. Worker safety. High productivity.
These are the hallmarks of Hussmann Corporation, the world's leading manufacturer
of food store equipment and commercial refrigeration products
Nowhere are these qualities more evident than at the company's
manufacturing complex at world headquarters in Bridgeton, Mo. When that facility
needed to expand its production capacity in response to strong sales growth,
it turned to Hytrol conveyors-the same conveyors that had already established
a solid track record on quality, safety, and reliability at the plant.
At Bridgeton, Hussmann manufactures the refrigerated
food cases found in supermarkets and convenience stores around the world.
These cases are available in more than 200 different models.
The new conveyor operation, installed in July
1999, is similar to the line in place-but with some important enhancements.
Designed and installed by WW Munroe Equipment Co. of St. Louis, the system
includes a number of features designed specifically for the Bridgeton
application. Yet even with these customized features, the system was fully
operational in less than eight weeks.
The results have been immediate and dramatic.
"We wanted to double our production with the addition of the second line,"
explains Edward Biros, manufacturing engineer at the facility.
Safety and Reliability
The new installation consists mainly of Hytrol chain-driven
and drag chain conveyors utilizing zero-pressure accumulation. The line consists
of segments that are capable of being programmed as either a workstation
or an accumulation zone. There's also an accumulation, or buffer zone set
up between each workstation. "The buffer zone is an important productivity
feature," says Biros. "It allows us to keep the line continually
With the accumulation capability, workers can
effectively control the release of cases from one zone to another. Safety
controls engineered into tread plates on the conveyor and under the floor
mats at each workstation prevent the cases from moving to the next zone if
anyone is standing on the plates or mats. This is an extremely important
safety feature as workers do much of the assembly work on or next to the
In addition to the drag chain accumulating units,
the system incorporates gravity conveyors to hold the cases at the beginning
and the end of the line. There's also several "application-specific" units.
These include an automated pivot car that inducts the cases into the main
conveyor line. And special four-strand transfers efficiently move the cases
from one segment of the main conveyor line to the next.
Another customized feature is a pneumatic lift table from Hytrol
that transfers cases from a conveyor line with a 13-inch clearance to one
with an eight-inch clearance. That lower clearance is required for certain
assembly tasks that could be performed more safely and comfortably with the
WW Munroe, an experienced systems integrator
and distributor of Hytrol equipment, did all of the equipment customization
at the Hussmann plant. The firm also designed and installed the system's
computer controls. A Windows-based factory system monitor gives supervisors
visibility over the entire conveyor line, instantly informing them where
any bottlenecks or other problems are occurring.
"It was a complete turnkey operation," sums up
John Mohler of WW Munroe, who managed the project.
Multiple Benefits Realized
In addition to improving production capacity
by more than 50 percent in a few short weeks, the new conveyor system has
delivered a number of other key benefits. Workflow flexibility has improved
dramatically thanks to the computer controls and streamlined movement of
cases from zone to zone. There's also much more efficient labor utilization.
In addition, the operators enjoy a heightened sense of ownership because
they now have more control in the assembly process.
"Basically, the system we now have in place is
optimum for the types of products we're producing here at Bridgeton," says
Ed Biros. And as the learning curve kicks in, he adds, the gains already
realized will only increase.
Hussmann's Plant at Bridgeton, MO
The refrigerated food cases move from the
panel accumulation area to the start of the assembly line where they enter
a buffer zone. A key feature of the new system, these accumulating buffer
zones are set up between each workstation. The result is more efficient workflow
and higher productivity. Built-in safety features prevent cases from accidentally
moving from one zone to the next. A pneumatic lift table transfers the units
from a 13-inch conveyor clearance to an 8-inch clearance for the final assembly
tasks. The Bridgeton facility assembles more than 70,000 refrigerated cases
|A Snapshot of the Facility
Company: Hussmann Corp.
Facility: Manufacturing Plant
Location: Bridgeton, MO
Size: 1.6 million square feet (total operation)
Manufacturing Engineers: Jim Joyner and Edward Biros
Product Handled: Refrigerated food cases
Throughput: 70,000 cases per year
Controls: Windows-based Factory System Monitor
Conveyor Supplier: Hytrol Conveyor Inc., Jonesboro, AR
Systems Integrator: WW Munroe Equipment Co., St. Louis, MO
Types of conveyors:
- Accumulating chain driven (2511-CRA)
- Drag chain
- Four-strand transfer
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