Manual Processes versus Automation Processes, an Update in Productivity

by Bill Lisy, President
Thomas Conveyor & Equipment Co.

Thomas Conveyor & Equipment was recently approached by a customer who needed to address a series of problems faced by many of our customers today.  The customer, a major supplier of packaged sauces and condiments to the fast food industry, was faced with rising costs, a lack of qualified job candidates, and a need to increase productivity.

Their existing process involved manually delivering stacks of pre-erected cases to each cup machine operator. The operator would then place an empty case in the fill position of the cup machine and once a case was filled push the case down a gravity conveyor line to a  tape machine. The process was labor intensive and productivity suffered. 

TCE engineers went to work to provide a design to automate the entire process starting with the front end. The first thing that needed to be addressed was their manual case erecting process.   The TCE automation engineering staff designed and installed a Wildeck mezzanine outside of their production room. It was determined that a Wexxar WF30 automatic case erector would be installed on the deck on the mezzanine. The mezzanine would utilize existing overhead space, and the Wexxar unit is capable of automatically erecting cases at a rate of 30 cases per minute.

The next challenge was to design a conveyor system to convey and deliver empty cases to each of the cup machines.  We designed a 24 volt motorized roller conveyor with zero pressure zoned accumulation and “pop-up” right angle transfers belts to divert the cases. The cases will be conveyed on the main “trunk line” conveyor and then transfer to descending gravity case accumulation chutes feeding each of the cup machines. The accumulation chutes utilize a pneumatic case escapement to allow one case to be discharged into the filling zone of the cup machines as a filled case is discharged.   Full cases are then discharged onto a 24 volt motorized roller zoned accumulation conveyor and travel to a Wexxar BEL 290 automatic tape case sealer.  The case is then conveyed to a top tier automatic palletizer. 

Contract Packager Looking for Quick Delivery………

by Jeff Bollman, Automation Engineer

A contract packager approached Thomas Conveyor and Equipment (TCE) looking for a time sensitive solution. The packager needed several pieces of tabletop conveyor to complete a new Pouch-Fill line for a contract they recently received. The start date had been accelerated and they now needed a conveyor system in a three week time frame.

The customer provided TCE with a basic layout of their existing equipment. TCE then designed a tabletop conveyor system to connect several pieces of existing equipment, which included a pouch filler, check weigher, case erector, hand packing station, case sealer and finally to a palletizer.

TCE reviewed their needs, and customized a solution that included:
A 12” wide tabletop conveyor (12 GA, powder coated mild steel). 
Conveyors included adjustable guide rails to accommodate different size pouches
Extended LBP roller transfers to ensure smooth transitions of products (on and off the conveyor) and 
VFD’s (pre-wired and installed) to allow customer customization of speeds depending on product line and existing equipment run rates.

Tabletop conveyors come in standard 3.25”, 4.5”, 7.5” and 12” widths. These conveyors are available also available in a wash-down configuration or for use in a rugged shop floor environment.

Our fully adaptable tabletop conveyors can be designed for a variety of applications including transporting, merging, diverting, or accumulating products; they can also accommodate a wide range of processing requirements including, filling, labeling, and product inspection.

Tabletop conveyor features include:

  • Use in almost any production or warehouse environment
  • Durable construction ensures reliability
  • Industry-standard spare parts
  • Units can seamlessly integrate into existing production lines
  • Handles cartons, can, jars and bottles.

Be sure to contact Thomas Conveyor & Equipment, Inc. at (708) 449-2100 or visit our website at for all your material handling needs.

Tabletop Conveyor 1
Tabletop Conveyor 2
Tabletop Conveyor
Tabletop Conveyor 3

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