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I love the level of customer service we can provide because we have been in business for so long. Nothing makes my day brighter than being able to tell someone that we have the parts on hand to get them out of a bind.   I was on a sales call this morning for a conveyor that was put into service back in 1996. Since its installation it has received minimal maintenance, and is still going strong. Of course, with only spending about $300 in spare parts for the old gal over the last 20 years she is ready for some TLC.   While we do recommend a more frequent service schedule; it is incredible to see how durable the FlexLink product line is in action. How many other conveyor systems do you know of that can run for 20 years without wearing out a drive or idler? It’s crazy. It is even crazier to think that the newer parts are designed to be even more robust than the old ones. Talk about getting your money’s worth.   But that leads to a problem. Where do you turn when you have a conveyor that was engineered in the 90’s needs spare parts? FlexLink doesn’t support the really old designs anymore, and the common school of thought is to shift a customer away from the old parts and into a new system, but that can get to be pretty cost prohibitive. Well, there is another option. You can turn to us.   As much trouble as I have given my parents about needing to get rid of our extensive collection of old style FlexLink part... Read More
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Choosing your System Partner
Building off of last week’s post on 5 questions to ask yourself about your product before you decide to choose your conveyor type, I wanted to sit down and give you my insight into how you choose your conveyor supplier. Now there are several blogs like this out there floating around on the web, and those authors make very good points; but in my opinion they go off topic by exploring how to choose the conveyor system itself, not the supplier. Many suppliers handle multiple types of conveyors so maybe I am off base here, but I don’t think it is as imperative to choose your supplier based on their product as it is to choose a supplier that has experience with their product lines and who you can rely on. We have had times when our vendors, who don’t carry multiple conveyor lines, have called us because their customer needed something to which they did not have access. That is loyalty to their customer right there. That’s what you should be looking for. I am confident that whoever you choose to provide you with a conveyor will be able to find you a gravity, roller, belt, or tabletop conveyor if that is what you truly need.  The question then, isn’t really whether or not they carry the product; it is whether or not you can trust them to get you the best solution, even if it isn’t their premier product.  I’m not talking about a situation where the vendor truly believes that their product is the best on the market, because each ... Read More
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So, you have products that need to be moved from point A to point B. Naturally, you decide that you need a conveyor, right? Sure you could use a cart, or have people wearing their backs out toting boxes, but why not enter into the wonderful world of conveying options? Except maybe that the world of conveying is very overwhelming. It isn’t just about low cost leaders here. There is so much more to consider than upfront costs. Do you want gravity conveyor, or powered options? What about rubber or plastic belt; or steel belts? How about guiderails? Are they going to mar the product? If you accumulate, is your product going to all fall down? What style drive do you need? Do you need a VFD? Are you carrying multiple sizes of products on the same line? How fast is your changeover? How fast is your line? Can you even carry golf balls up an almost 90 degree incline? What about conveyor made from rubber bands, do they do that? Should you get a steel conveyor, or an aluminum one? Do you need adjustable height? Do they even make a conveyor for your application? Maybe most importantly, even if the conveyor works what is the system with lowest total ownership cost? So - Many - Options... Let me make it simple for you. Here are five questions to ask yourself about your product when you are picking out a conveyor system. Or, you could just call us and take advantage of our free engineering and experienced staff so you don’t have to worry about it, but I digress… ;) 1.... Read More
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It seems like every trade show that we do someone asks us about elevating solutions. There are so many great ways of incline/declining products out there that it can be a little confusing, not to mention overwhelming, to try and figure out what the best solution is when you don't live and breathe material handling day in and day out. We in the conveyor industry tend to embrace our jargon with a passion which only makes things worse. It can be awfully confusing to try and translate what exactly someone means when they say "Alpine" or "Blanket Conveyor." So, without further ado and with a little insight into their names, here are seven elevating options from Flex-Line Automation! 1. Incline/decline conveyors are the most basic elevation changing option. They usually use friction chain, friction belt, cleated chain, cleated belt, roller cleats, or small elevation changes over a long run in order to get a product moving up or down in a controlled manner. They are great when you have a lot of room or don't need drastic height changes. The roller cleat style can even feed product in between the cleats with no additional automation! 2. Alpine conveyors are what immediately springs to my mind when I think of FlexLink conveyor choices. (I'm not even going to pretend that they aren't my personal favorite. We strapped a camera to a pallet moving through one of these once. It was awesome. You can check it out on our downloads page, under Flex-Line Video.) They are named after their s... Read More
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We had dinner with one of our salesmen last night, Don Petsch  of Mike Petsch and Associates. As you might guess by the name, he is second generation in this business and has the experience that goes with that. He has been building conveyors with his dad since high school and has seen a lot of solutions, across a variety of industries, in his years of working with our product line. As we ate the conversation turned to FlexLink, which is pretty much inevitable during our dinner conversations. We talked about the differences between X65 and XL and X85 and its precursor XM. But that isn't what inspired me to write this morning. What inspired me to write this morning was one sentence, "You can move a refrigerator on an XM conveyor." Yes, you just read that correctly. We run into this misconception that a product has to be completely surrounded by a belt in order to move and orient it very frequently, and that is just not the case. Commonly, it is a much more economical option to move that refrigerator, box, bundle, can, package, or whatever else you might be handling down the line on a single belt with a creative guiderail solution. I don't think I am letting you in on any trade secrets when I tell you that a 2.48"/63mm wide conveyor is generally cheaper than a 11.61"/295mm one. Not only is looking at moving products that way economical, it has great benefits with respect to your floor space too. The price doesn't even take into consideration the world of reorienting opt... Read More
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Custom Solutions
At the last minute you realize that you forgot to draw a column, and you don’t have room to shift your conveyor system over six inches. What do you do? Well, if you are like this customer and work with Flex-Line Automation, Inc. you just let us know and we will do whatever we can to find a solution for you – even if it means custom designing a hollow wheelbend that fits around your support column. Can your current supplier do that? I will have to be honest here. It seems like in today’s industry many people have forgotten that what you see on a computer model doesn’t always work the same way that things do in real life. Don’t get me wrong, simulations are awesome; but sometimes there are external factors, like columns someone forgot to draw or a lock up mechanism that doesn’t act quite like the one in your drawing, that mean that having a partner with flexibility and ingenuity is still priceless. We are happy to re-think the solutions, to problem solve, to actually mock up systems and test them, and most importantly to go out in the field and make your equipment WORK. If you have a unique situation please check out our products pages and give us a call. We aren’t a cookie cutter conveyor company, and we want to help you find the best way to handle your product. ... Read More
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Re-Orienting Solutions
It happens often. You have a package that comes out of your machine upside down or sideways; for whatever reason it needs to be turned, flipped, angled, or otherwise adjusted. What do you do? Call us of course! We have experience from across industries to know how to handle your product. We have fixed and powered flipping devices, gravity turning sections, bump and turn orienteers, side by side reorienting conveyors and many more solutions to get your production flowing the way you need it. Are you interested in re-orienting products? Contact us today with your product specifications and we will happily give you more information for the solution that will work best for you. ... Read More
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