Simulation Ensures Each TALOS Chute Design Facilitates Proper Product Flow

We all are experts on how gravity works, right? It’s the force that keeps us from floating off the ground, that causes apples to fall from trees, and that pulls a child down a playground slide. It’s also the force we use to move parcels, packages, and cartons from a higher elevation to a lower one on TALOS’ chutes — including UHMW, stainless steel, and galvanized steel versions — most commonly used in parcel handling and distribution/fulfillment operations.

However, if the chutes are not designed to accommodate the specific items that are intended to slide down them, gravity won’t work quite as planned. That’s why we utilize sophisticated simulation software, Demo 3D. With this tool, we can test our chute designs and verify that they will perform as intended before we build and install the final product at the customer’s location.

 

There are a variety of factors that go into the design of a chute. They include:

  • Desired elevation change
  • Degree of control in item descent
  • Package orientation requirements
  • Item weight(s)
  • Coefficient of friction
  • Packaging of item (corrugated carton, plastic envelope, padded envelope, polybag)
  • Texture or coating on the package
  • Item dimensions and shape
  • Consistency or variability of items traveling down the chute
  • How the item is fed into the chute (manually, by powered conveyor, sorter, or divert)
  • Desired throughput rate
  • Anticipated volume of packages

 

With 3D simulation, we can input, test, and modify all these unique factors to gain a better understanding of the likely performance of each chute’s design and geometry, including width and pitch. Because the computer simulation runs virtually in real-time, we are able to rapidly test hundreds of scenarios. By assessing their outcomes, TALOS’ engineering team can come to a consensus very quickly about the design they believe will best achieve the customer’s objectives.

 

The caveat, however, is that the simulation only offers a prediction of how the packages will perform when inducted into the actual chute. That’s why we still fabricate a model of the design for real-life testing. This allows us to correlate what the simulation anticipates will occur with what happens in the field. If the two do not align, we make more tweaks in the simulation and likewise adjust the model to compensate.

 

In addition to helping us assess and refine our chute designs, computer simulation allows us to cut down on the time it takes to create and validate a project. Because the design phase is greatly expedited, we can typically deliver an initial concept to a customer within 48 to 72 hours.

 

While that short turnaround time is partly based on the speed of the simulation software, it’s also a result of our engineering team’s years of experience in creating UHMW, stainless steel, and galvanized steel chutes. With decades of collective expertise in designing chutes that leverage gravity, TALOS’ engineers bring a high level of design insight to the process. The simulation software — which we’ve used for more than three years — allows them to test and validate their ideas about how the design might influence product behavior in a much more efficient way than ever before.

 

Additionally, computer simulation offers our customers an additional benefit by allowing them to test and assess the potential outcomes of a change in package characteristics on an existing chute. Before inducting a new type of item into the chute, TALOS’ customers can connect with our engineers and have them simulate the outcome of introducing a different product mix, volume, package size or weight, and many other factors. Armed with the findings of the simulation, our engineering team makes recommendations for modifications to existing chutes — or to package handling patterns — preventing unnecessary downtime and minimizing costs.

 

Looking to harness the power of gravity for your next parcel flow project? We’d be happy to work with you to ensure your parcel and material handling chutes perform exactly as you need. Let’s start a conversation today. Contact us.

Jathan Richard
VP of Parcel Conveyor and Chutes
Jathan.Richard@talosep.com