What is a Vertical Transfer Unit (VTU)?
A VTU is a Vertical Transfer Unit. They are used in conveyance and material handling applications to move the product from one conveyor level (or height) to another.
VTUs are comprised of three main elements:
- A horizontal conveyor
- A vertical actuator
- and supporting structure
Guarding these units is critical; however, the type of guard to be used depends on where the VTU is going to be located. If the VTU is being used in a robotic work-cell that is enclosed in a perimeter guard, then it is not necessary to individually guard the VTU as well; but, if the VTU in an area where workers encounter the unit, then the VTU should be outfitted with its own guard that also includes reach-in tunnels.
Vertical transfer units can move product between two or more elevations. Additionally, they can be modified to move product out from a different side than where it entered, including perpendicularly.
Why use VTUs?
Not only are VTUs a critical component in over-under pallet-handling systems, but VTUs can save you space, increase output and efficiency or be used to increase storage capacity.
VTUs to Save Space
When floor space is tight, or aisles are needed for employees to walk, overhead conveying can be an excellent space saving solution. But how to get the pallet up to the ceiling height and back down again is the question. Enter Vertical Transfer Units. These VTUs can move pallets from ground level, up to the ceiling and back down again; or they can be used to transport pallets between floors.
VTUs to Increase Output and Efficiency
Sometimes you need multiple infeed or outfeed–or both–conveyors to meet production demands – and stacking these conveyors saves space. But how to move the product between one or more infeed and between one or more outfeed conveyors is the question. Again, Vertical Transfer Units are the solution. Not only can the vertical movement of the VTU be designed to stop at multiple elevations, but the VTU can also feature multiple conveyors set at fixed vertical distances to service multiple infeed or outfeed conveyors at the same time
VTUs to Increase Storage Space
Storing pallets and/or creating a buffer can solve several manufacturing challenges. If the pallets are carrying a product that requires curing or drying time, then storing those pallets on a multi-level system can free up floor space. In this instance, VTUs can be used to feed the pallets to the multi-level curing conveyors. VTUs can be used to create a buffer or pallets, up or downstream, from a process. The operator can load the pallets into a multi-level VTU and then leave it to feed the machine; while they go tend to other work that requires their attention. This frees up labor on the factory floor.
VTUs to Return Pallets
Let us not forget the application in which Vertical Transfer Units where originally adapted for in pallet-handling applications – and that is the return of empty pallets to the start of the production line – on an over-under conveyor system. Empty pallets can return either above or below (more common) the main conveying line. This provides a constant stream of empty pallets ready to accept the next piece to be worked on.
Vertical Transfer Units from mk North America
mk North America offers VTUs for all VersaMove pallet-handling conveyor platforms. VTUs can have a pneumatic or electrically driven vertical actuator and can feature a variety of conveyor types. The most common type of conveyors used in VTUs are timing belt or driven roller, but other conveyor platforms can be used. VTUs can be supplied with or without guarding. When supplied with guarding the guarding panels can be PVC coated wire mesh or polycarbonate.
Contact mk North America to get started on your next application involving vertical transfer units.