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Support Structure, Made With Rollon Linear Bearings, Improves Efficiency Of Warehouse Packaging Module

Automation is changing how traditional distribution centers operate. But when it comes to automated technology, you might think about the robots, automated guide vehicles and pick-and-place systems. Just as important are the smaller, simpler structures that must be engineered to interface with the high-tech systems—and their designs present their own set of challenges.

Demonstrating this point, systems integrator N-III, Inc. devised a simple, yet large-scale solution to improve the efficiency of an existing warehouse packaging staging module. Though limited by challenging design constraints, the company created a supporting structure that mounts underneath the existing module and integrates an arrangement of plywood, aluminum extrusions and Rollon linear bearings.

Improving The Existing Design
An automated package distribution center wanted to improve its packing modules. Each module is made up of four chutes that feed packages from the top of the system down to the station operator. The operator is notified of an order and, from there, can pull it out, package it and place it onto a conveyor belt beneath the chutes. 

N-III wanted to incorporate support platforms onto the design of this existing structure, which the operators could utilize to box finished orders. Engineers came up with a simple design that connects to the module and even uses its existing bolt holes. For a work surface, the engineers created tables made of strong ply, which they capped with an ABS plastic. The tables were then mounted onto a Rollon linear slider, which was mounted simply into a standard aluminum extrusion. From there, workers can easily slide a table along the length of the chutes to where it is needed.

Overcoming Design Challenges
N-III’s solution overcame several design constraints, all of which were dictated by the existing packaging structure. These included:

  • Attaching the tables to the structure without any additional drilling or the use of T-nuts.
  • Maintaining a certain height so as not to impede the conveyor belt beneath the module once it was attached.
  • Avoiding complex moving parts.
  • Selecting bearings that could handle very high loads.