When you’re dealing with specialized manufacturing processes with strict requirements, it’s impossible to use a standard conveyor oven. Modern manufacturing demands custom ovens that have been designed to meet product- and process-specific requirements. This means that engineers looking to source an industrial conveyor oven have to provide oven manufacturers with a lot of information in order to develop an accurate specification.
To help simplify this process, we’ve compiled a list of what we at Davron consider the eight main criteria for designing an industrial conveyor oven. We hope this walkthrough will help make the specification process easier for engineers. As we like to point out to our customers, the sooner you develop a clear idea of how your thermal processing equipment will fit into your overall process, the more efficient you can make the entire system.
1. Oven Type
There are two types of conveyor ovens: continuous conveyor ovens and indexing conveyor ovens. Continuous conveyor ovens move product through them at a steady rate and are best when you have large volumes of similar parts that require thermal processing. Indexing conveyor ovens use a stop-and-go sequence to move product through them. This incremental movement can be used to automate heating and cooling sequences.
2. Heating Source
Conveyor ovens can be engineered with electric, natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas, or radiant/infrared heat sources. They can also be designed to combine electric and gas heating. If selecting gas, make sure your facility has the right supply. For electricity, consider the operating voltages available at your facility. If necessary, industrial conveyor ovens can be equipped for 120/240 dual voltage operation.
3. Temperature Range
Identify the temperature you need your product to heat to and determine your minimum and maximum operating temperatures. If your product needs to reach different temperatures at various points in your process, industrial conveyor ovens can be designed to include multiple heat zones and equipped with PLC control to regulate temperatures.
4. Heating & Cooling Profile
The most important part of the thermal process is the heating profile, which describes how quickly your product needs to heat, how long it needs to stay heated, and whether or not it needs to incrementally cool and then re-heat as it is processed. If cooling is required for handling safety, make sure to specify the temperature that is considered safe.
5. Airflow Arrangement
When an industrial oven incorporates convection heating (i.e., electrical or gas), airflow becomes a critical component. Engineered air distribution systems that direct airflow patterns facilitates quicker time-to-temperature, transfers heat more efficiently to parts, and ensures temperature uniformity throughout the oven. Airflow can follow either a vertical top-to-bottom pattern, a vertical bottom-to-top pattern, or a combination of the two.
6. Conveying System
Industrial conveyor ovens can be designed with many different types of conveyor systems, including traditional belts made out of flat wire, wire mesh, rubber, Teflon, or plastic. They can also be outfitted with overhead monorails or specialized product trays. Your product and processing needs will ultimately determine the best conveying system, which can run parallel to the floor, on a diagonal slant, or even in a spiral.
A major consideration for any custom industrial oven manufacturer will be the amount of space they have to work with when designing your oven’s footprint. Inform your industrial oven provider how much floor space is available at your plant and make a note of door sizes and other access considerations so they can be factored in to the installation process. Thinking forward to operation, be sure that the area you’ve selected will provide enough space for product handling.
8. Product Requirements
Tell your industrial oven fabricator as much as you can about your product so they can help you determine the best thermal processing solution. At the very least, they’ll want to know your product’s degree of flammability, shape, dimensions, orientation, weight, and whether it needs to be processed individually or can be done in groups.