The WaveHandler modular conveyor with intelligent subsystems, which was exhibited at the recent Processing & Packaging Machinery Association exhibition at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, is expected to result in “huge cost savings”, by reducing the damage to such short shelf-life products during handling and packaging, claimed Festo product manager Steve Sands.
The conveyor consists of numerous bellows modules that deform the surface creating a wave motion that transports objects in a targeted manner.
Inspiration for this principle was provided by monitoring natural waves. The movement of wind over the smooth surface of the water produces small ripples, which grow as the wind pushes against them.
Energy not water
However, it is energy being moved by the waves, not water. The water molecules within a wave move up and down in a circular motion, but remain in roughly the same place. Yet the energy produced causes the wave to roll over the surface of the sea.
The WaveHandler system behaves in a similar way. While each individual bellows advances and retracts in the same spot, a wave moves over the surface of the conveyor. The end result is a control network that moves objects on the surface in a targeted manner, enabling it to take over the sorting and moving action in the process.