Costs Vary Among Systems Perhaps the cheapest conveyor system for taking product up or down a level is an incline conveyor, which sells for an average of about $2,500, but takes up considerably more space, Cisco-Eagle's Doyle adds.
The costs of a VRC are considerably less than those associated with full freight elevators, long the industry standard for moving product between levels. VRCs cost, on average, about one-tenth less.
And because VRCs can be integrated into other conveyors so that products roll on and off them automatically, an operator only has to hit a button to turn on the machine and can then walk away, says Ackerman.
"From a cost standpoint, you also save on personnel with VRCs because you do not need someone to remove products from an elevator and load them onto a conveyor," adds Nercon's Lindauer.
In terms of throughput, the average VRC will give you three to five cycles a minute, Doyle notes. That is far less than with an incline conveyor, "which can get you 20-30 products on the discharge end in a minute, but they have a much greater distance to travel," he adds.
Another option, especially for moving pallets on and off a mezzanine, has been forklifts. While that may be the simplest way, using forklifts ties up people and equipment that could better be used elsewhere.
That is not to say that there is only one type of conveyor that will help you take products to another level. "If you go up, there are a handful of elevation-changing equipment options you can use," says Doyle, who notes that companies can also use vertical continuous conveyors, inclines or declines, spiral conveyors, belt conveyors or merge conveyors to do the same job.
Which one you use, he continues, "depends on environmental concerns, costs, what's taking place in the DC and what's taking place upstream or downstream. In most cases, we see multiple methodologies in place to move products. You ultimately want to do something where it will not create bottlenecks.