Conveyor Solutions: Expert Insights for Your Automation Demands

Buffer Zone Basics the Simplified Truth

By Katie

November 21, 2022
buffer zone

The term "buffer zone" has many definitions, but we're going to explore what it means to us and how it can benefit your business.

Some concepts of manufacturing and material handling require a little extra explaining, as their terms can be applied to other industries. One of these terms is “buffer zone.” Spanning multiple industries and disciplines, the term “buffer zone” has many applications and specific definitions. Here, we’re going to explore what this term means to us and how we can use it to revolutionize manufacturing and material handling.

For many operating facilities, we recommend MDR accumulation systems,...

General Definition of Buffer Zone

buffer zone fence

In its broadest form, a buffer zone is defined as “a neutral area separating conflicting forces broadly” or simply “an area designed to separate” ( Thinking in terms of basic definition, a fence is a type of buffer zone because it is a clear separation of two areas.

Having this basic understanding of what a buffer zone is, let’s talk a little more about how this term applies to us, specifically in material handling. For us, a buffer zone could be one of two things: it could be a particular area surrounding an industrial facility to ensure the safety of people living or working in that area, or it could be an area of space around a piece of equipment where people or other pieces of equipment cannot be, also for the purpose of safety.

Getting more Specific about Buffer Zones

Buffer zone accumulation conveyor

Now that we have a grasp on the concept of buffer zones and why we need them in industrial settings, let’s talk about some equipment that utilizes its own buffer zone to help protect against product damage. In particular, we’re referencing the zero-pressure accumulation conveyor. This piece of machinery does not allow products to touch one another, which protects the integrity of those products as they’re being handled.

Zero-pressure accumulation conveyors use a photo eye to determine the proper spacing of items on the conveyor to maximize product flow and minimize product damage. There are several different modes a minimum pressure accumulation conveyor can be set to based on the sizes and weights of products you are handling with it. Among these modes are standard mode, slug mode, and cascade mode. Standard mode basically creates a small buffer zone between products on the conveyor. Slug mode allows all the products to be released at the same time for quicker movement. Cascade mode allows the operator to program how much time lapses between the release of the product on the conveyor.

Although we’ve discussed the zero-pressure or minimum-pressure accumulation conveyor, there are several different options for this type of material handling process, which include: zero-pressure, minimum or medium pressure, or custom accumulation conveyors. These conveyors operate basically the same way, utilizing zone controllers which tell the drive rollers when to activate and move the products to the next zone. After each zone is cleared, the modes mentioned above are activated, which streamlines the material handling process, protects the products being handled, and maximizes the safety of the entire facility.

Where do We Come into Play?

At Russell Conveyor & Equipment, we have years of experience designing and implementing customizable material handling solutions to meet the needs of the individual facility. Our systems designers are glad to speak with your company about how to tailor your equipment setup to best suit your business. We recommend zero-pressure or minimum-pressure accumulation conveyors for some situations, while for other situations, we recommend pressure-accumulating conveyors.

For many operating facilities, we recommend MDR accumulation systems, which are much more energy efficient than traditional conveyors, much quieter than conventional conveyors, increase safety for operators, cost less to maintain than traditional conveyors, and are far easier to program, which makes it easier for us to outfit your facility with this type of equipment.

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Katie Andrews Content Manager
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About Russell Conveyor & Equipment

Russell Conveyor and Equipment has been in business for over 20 years. We specialize in conveyor systems and material handling solutions. Russell is a family-owned business, and we take pride in our customer service and quality products.

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