- Richard Herbert
Conveyors keep Santa moving
Santa's got a problem: an unprecedented number of elves have gone down with flu just weeks before Christmas and there aren't enough people to move and sort all the presents before Christmas Eve. He urgently needs to find a way to sort the vast amounts of presents that would be faster and more reliable than labour. Luckily, the big man called Coveya and asked us whether we could help.
Specifying a conveyor system for Santa's Workshop was an unusual job for us, but we took the same approach we do with all our customers, finding out all about the application and then recommending a system to get the job done.
Here are the questions we asked Santa's Chief Elf so we could specify their system:
1. How big are the presents?
Unlike many conveyor applications, the material size here is extremely variable. There would be presents ranging in size from little Hatchimals to bicycles, and the conveyor needed to cope. Luckily there were no inclines and few obstacles on the route so we were able to recommend a system that could handle the largest and heaviest presents.
2. How will you be loading the conveyor?
The elves would be putting the presents onto the belt by hand so we recommended using a flat belt conveyor instead of a roller conveyor to give load stability along the full length of the conveyor.
We installed suitable guarding so the elves couldn't get their fingers trapped, as well as emergency stop pull wires. We've also advised the elves to make sure there is suitable lighting to maintain a safe working environment and that appropriate clothes are worn and any beards are protected from snagging.
We were happy to provide training to make sure all the elves knew how the conveyors worked and how to use them.
3. Where and how far do the presents need to be moved?
Since the route required more than one conveyor we needed to minimise the transfer height between conveyors so fragile presents wouldn't get broken.
The elves have a sophisticated sorting system – as you'd imagine given how many presents they handle and the delivery timescales involved. So we worked with them to make sure the presents were sorted and discharged via a chute straight into the sleigh.
4. What power supply is available?
class="large light grey-dark">Unfortunately Santa's Workshop doesn't have mains power so the conveyors had to be powered by reindeer dung-generated electricity. Fortunately the generator is 3-phase, which is sufficient for our longer and more powerful conveyors. Since there could be flammable gases around (reindeer dung can be pretty pungent), we recommended an ATEX-rated motor to be safe.
5. Environmental considerations
In sub-zero temperatures, there is a risk of some items freezing onto the belt if left stationary for extended periods. We recommended the elves to make sure they run the belts completely empty before shutting them off for the night, and start them empty before loading in the morning.
And for the naughty list?
Lastly, we recommended Santa used a separate conveyor system for the lumps of coal so that there was no cross-contamination. No one wants a gift coated in coal dust.
Need to get your material moved in time for Christmas?
If you'd like to talk to us about a job you need a conveyor for, magical or otherwise, please get in touch.