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Industry:  Food & Beverage Processing Center in Eastern NC

Challenge:  During conveyor maintenance, avoid down-time by finding a way to keep food processing line operating at all times

Solution:  Add a backup conveyor system that saves on space to by-pass conveyor traffic during maintenance

Equipment:  Ryson Stainless Steel Spiral Conveyor

Eliminate Downtime by Adding Space Saving Spiral Conveyor Backup System – Eastern NC Case Study

Challenge: No Rest for the Profitable

Our multi-billion-dollar food and beverage client in Eastern North Carolina employs more than 5,000 hourly workers. With that many people employed, downtime can become very expensive. So it became imperative to come up with a system that would eliminate any downtime.

“There’s a lack of space upstream in the processing supply chain,” says AEC Material Handling Specialist Brad Dowless. And at this facility, labor costs associated with downtime grows rapidly. It’s an expense they wanted to avoid.”

“Eliminating just one Saturday of downtime pays for this entire project.”

Solution: It Just Takes a Flip of a Switch

Spiral Conveyor Backup System Eliminates Downtime by AEC in North CarolinaFast Switch to the Spiral Backup

Solving this unique problem was no easy task, but Dowless and his team were up to the challenge.

To eliminate the need for downtime during cleaning, risk assessments and preventative or emergency maintenance, a backup spiral conveyor system (specifically, a Ryson stainless steel spiral conveyor) was installed.

This allowed the workers to switch from one conveyor to the spiral system with nothing more than a flip of a switch. But while moving from one conveyor to the other is simple, the installation took a bit more work.

Space Saving Installation

Complete Install In a Single Day

“Moving the conveyor into position was a big challenge due to the size of the spiral and the location which it was installed,” says Dowless. “Bollards were removed to fit through doorways, a staircase was removed, and part of a mezzanine walkway was removed.”

“There’s no doubt that a great deal of experience was required to maneuver this unit.  And the space saving spiral design was the only option to fit into the small space we had to work in. But the installation team did a fantastic job and had the spiral conveyor upright and all items put back in order within a single day.”

Additional Cost Savings Built In

Solid Lube Bearings and Auto Chain Oiler

Additional considerations were made to further reduce downtime. Since operators need to be able to wash down the equipment on a regular basis (a challenge for this type of automation equipment in the food and beverage industry), Dowless and his team added solid lube bearings for the slats and an auto chain oiler.

The solid lube bearings can’t be degreased by the high-pressure cleaning, and the auto chain oiler quickly and easily oils the chain after each washdown to maximize performance and life.

“Automation runs best when operators don’t need to inject into the system,” says Dowless. “We put in a lot of effort to make sure that we understand the total requirement prior to specifying a product for our customers.”

Success: Give It a Spin

One Day of Downtime Cost Pays for this Project

Once again, Brad Dowless and AEC managed to put together a customized solution to a unique problem. And the result?

“Well, with over 5,000 employees if they need to run on Saturday due to down-time they may need to bring in, say, 1,000 people,” says Dowless.

“If those 1,000 people made an average wage of $20/hour and worked an eight-hour shift, you’d be looking at $160,000 in additional wages, not counting overtime. Eliminating just one Saturday of downtime pays for this entire project!”


Brad specializes in packaging line integration, sortation and accumulation conveyor systems, distribution center conveyor systems, mobile aisle pallet rack systems, automatic storage and retrieval systems (ASRS), ergonomic lift and positioning equipment, heavy material lifts for floor-to-floor applications and mezzanine work platforms, modular offices and safety guarding (both custom and standard).

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Since 1960, Advanced Equipment Company has been providing our services to the Carolinas and throughout the United States.

We look forward to hearing from you and how we can help you with productivity-boosting innovations in automation, material handling, and storage applications.

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