When creating a production system layout it is important to understand how a package is traveling along any part of a conveyor line. Is it moving in a way that makes it more difficult to stay straight? Is it standing up an a thin end, making the package likely to tip? Does the shape of the packaging affect how the product can be accumulated to make up for variations in equipment speed? These are all questions that need to be answered to create an effective product handling solution.
To facilitate better communication on how a product is moving down a line, here is a list of 9 orientations for common package types along with a diagram to visualize them on a conveyor.
This orientation has the package resting on its smallest side and moving with its largest side facing forward. This is the most difficult orientation to manage as it is both top heavy and likely to skew if force is applied to either side of the package. This orientation likely requires close fitting and tall guide rails so that the package does not fall over or skew.
This orientation has the package resting on the medium sized side while still traveling with its largest side facing forward. While not as difficult to control as a package in the tall hard orientation, it is still likely to skew if any force is applied to its front face.
The easiest of the hard orientations, this package is not likely to fall over due to it resting on its largest face, giving it a very low center of gravity. However, it is still likely to skew if any force is applied to its leading face.
Oriented with its medium side facing forward, this product is not likely to skew left or right, but is still easily tipped over.
Resting on its medium sized face, this package is still at some risk of falling over if it is particularly narrow, but is not at much risk of skewing on the production line. This orientation is best for going around curves as it is less likely to fall than a product oriented tall easy and is easier to turn than a package oriented short easy.
The easiest way to travel in a straight line. This product is very unlikely to tip or skew as it has a low center of gravity and a small leading face.
Cylindrical packages change things up a bit due to their curved sides. While having a high center of gravity, a vertical cylinder is often the preferred orientation of transport for products such as non woven wipes canisters, as it will not roll when a force is applied to it. It is also very easy to accumulate on bidirectional or flow thru tables as the cylindrical shape evenly distributes forces applied to it.
The worst way for a cylinder to try and travel; a package of this shape is likely to skew or simply stay in place by rolling if the product is too heavy.
This orientation is often seen on tissue and towel production lines for naked or single roll product. It allows for decent accumulation on single file lines, though any sort of guide rail needs to be close to the product as the pressure would otherwise twist the product. Other equipment such as in line side transfers may be needed to prevent the product from rolling or getting stuck on dead plates.