Makers of conveying systems are coming up with new ways of reducing energy costs and the need for packaging material on products that must move by conveyor.

An example of the trend is on display at Pack Expo within the booth of Emerson Industrial Automation. One display there shows a special kind of conveyor belting that may help eliminate the need for cardboard trays holding products such as soft drinks and cases of shrink-wrapped PET bottles.

It turns out that one reason such products require cardboard trays is to keep the cases from being crushed as they accumulate at the end of a conveyor. As cases build up, the resulting pressure on the cases at the beginning of the queue can be high enough to distort the packaging. Cardbard trays keep the pressure off the packaging itself to prevent this problem.

One way of eliminating the need for the cardboard is to reduce the pressure on the cases at the beginning of the queue. That is what a special kind of low-back-pressure conveying belt does. Devised by Emerson Industrial Automation, is consists of rows of small beads that rotate as the conveyor passes under accumulated product. Emerson's  System Plast  belts employ a half-inch-pitch that facilitates use of small bead diameters and small pitch between rollers that makes for a smooth conveying surface. A three-quarter-inch diameter nose  bar return can also be used to reduce the head-to-tail transfer distance.