Conveyor Solutions: Expert Insights for Your Automation Demands

How MDR Save Energy, Decrease Costs

By James

August 24, 2022

How MDR conveyors reduce cost, save energy, and decrease Total Cost of Ownership

MDR Save Money

Motor Driven Roller conveyors, MDR, save energy and maximize a company’s Total Cost of Ownership, increase overall safety, throughput and efficiency.

Before we get into how, let’s cover exactly what an MDR conveyor is.

First, the drive is housed completely inside the roller of an MDR Conveyor. These motors are small, fit inside a 1.9” standard conveyor roller, and are powered with a 24VDC control card, similar to the PULSEROLLER ConveyLinx card used in Russell Conveyor systems. There are no external 480VAC drives to power belts with bulky chains and sprockets.

So why consider and choose MDR? A better question should be “Why Not MDR”?

Would you agree that MDR conveyors will save energy costs and maximize Total Cost of Ownership if I said you could have the following?

  • Reduce workplace injuries by providing cleaner, safer equipment, (no heavy sprockets, no chains and no grease or oil lying around everywhere)
  • Save on energy and reduce power consumption by 50-75% utilizing “Run on Demand” Technology
  • Reduce noise by 75-80%
  • Reduce maintenance costs
  • Less spare parts costs and inventories
  • Eliminate single-point-of-failure areas within your conveyor system
  • Increase versatility
  • Increase Reuse & Resale values
  • Reduce Total Cost of Ownership

So how does MDR do all these things? First, let’s start with reducing workplace injuries.

Energy reduction is a key feature and benefit.... MDR conveyor systems will reduce your energy consumption, save the company money, and increase profits.

Save Personnel and Reduce Workplace Injuries


MDR rollers carry enough torque to move heavy loads, but because of the way they are powered they do not carry enough torque to hurt someone should they accidentally get their hand trapped between rollers. Plus, MDR has fewer pinch points than conventional conveyor systems.

The lack of heavy chains and sprockets also reduces the opportunity for workplace injury with the facility maintenance teams. Nearly every maintenance team has one person that tends to over grease and over oil bearings and chains. It’s easy to see when they complete preventive maintenance because for the next several days, lubricant is spilling out of the equipment.

MDR conveyor systems do not require grease or oil, therefore there are fewer slips and falls.

Reduce Power Consumption

Power Meter, Save Energy

Energy reduction is a key feature and benefit. Next, let’s examine how MDR conveyor systems will reduce your energy consumption, save the company money, and increase profits.

We can safely assume the following for our calculations and purpose of this discussion.

  • Based on approximately 900 feet of conveyor
  • 24/7 – 6 Days a week = 7,488 Yearly Operating Hours
  • 18 drives for conventional belt conveyor system. One motor per 50’ of conveyor
  • 30” zones on the MDR at 2 amps 24VDC each
  • $0.08 per kilowatt hour power rate
  • MDR Run on Demand technology typically sees 25% – 50% run time vs. conventional belt conveyor systems. If there isn’t a carton on the system to convey the MDR doesn’t run.

Conventional Belt Conveyor System

18 Drives (2 amps each) @ 480VAC = 29,894 Watts/1,000 = 29.89 KW x 7,488 Yearly Operating Hours =223,816 KW Hours x $0.08 = $17,905 Yearly Energy Costs

MDR Conveyor System

360 Zones (540 Amps 24VDC), (14, 480VAC power Supplies) = 23,251 Watts x .50 (Because of the 50% Run on Demand factor) = 11,625 Watts/1,000 = 11.62 KW x 7,488 Yearly Operating Hours = 87,010 KW Hours x $0.08 = $6,960 Yearly Energy Costs

This is a $10,945 Yearly Savings based on 50% Run Time

If throughput on a system is a little lower, then you could be looking at under 50% run time which only continues to improve the overall savings putting more dollars back in your pocket!

Check with your local power company to see if rebates are offered for MDR conveyor. For example, our local power company in North Carolina offers up to $0.08 per KW hour saved in the first year of use for replacing an existing system. Assuming the 900’ system described above was a replacement at 136,806 KW Hours saved the first year equals a total rebate of $10,944.48.

In a world where every penny matters in business that would significantly justify the ROI, return on investment.

Reduce Noise


This is simple. If a conveyor doesn’t run all the time, it is not going to make noise. Couple that with the fact that when the MDR is running it is significantly quieter than conventional conveyor and you see a huge overall noise reduction.

Nosie reduction also improves safety with a quitter, more pleasurable environment to work in.

Reduce Maintenance Costs

conveyor maintenance, MDR Conveyor

As previously stated in reduction of workplace injuries, there are fewer moving parts with MDR so there are fewer parts to grease and oil, and much less wear. Most parts, (if they ever do need replacing) can be replaced by one person, reducing the time it takes to replace parts and number of people to maintain the system.

Less Spare Parts and Inventories

Most of the time a 500’ conveyor system only needs a recommended spare parts list of less than $500. Compare that to $15-$20k for a conventional conveyor system and the need for massive spare parts rooms filled with lots of spare parts inventory is eliminated. Go ahead and start making plans for the current inventory space. Perhaps a new break area for space for employees to enjoy?

Single Point of Failure

Anyone that has spent any time working in the conveyor business has heard this term used frequently. Single points of failure within a system are those parts of a system that if they go down, the entire system goes down with it.

The issue could be as simple as a brake metering belt prior to a sorter. This is a big problem with conventional conveyor systems, but because of the way MDR conveyor is designed it limits these areas and significantly limits the amount of time it takes to perform repairs.

Increase Versatility

Need to speed up or decrease speed on one short section of a conventional conveyor? How about that one long carton that seldom runs on your conventional conveyor system? When it does, it wreaks havoc throughout your system. MDR increases capacity on your system by utilizing inclines and declines to accumulate product.

All of these are big costly problems for conventional a conveyor systems, but no problem at all for MDR.

These are just a few of the ways the MDR conveyor is much more versatile than the conventional conveyor.

Increase Reuse or Resale Values

Maintenance technicians refer an area where all old conveyors and equipment are stored in a facility as the “boneyard”. Typically, this is where the maintenance team can access old equipment for the next several years as a source to scavenge parts.

The origin of a boneyard occurs when the conveyor is pulled out and reconfigured in some way. Rather than scrap the old conveyor, it’s stored for parts or units that can no longer be used.

What causes a conveyor to be unusable? When 100’ of conveyor is removed and reused in a 15’ configuration then you have 85’ leftover. The drive has been re-used in the 15’ configuration so there is no drive left for the 85’. These old parts become scrap metal in the end. With MDR, this WILL NEVER happen! Because of the MDR design, when the 100’ of MDR is removed and only 15’ is used in a new configuration, 85’ of conveyor is left and is 100% fully functional that you can reuse or sell.

Reduce Total Cost of Ownership

A major factor that must be considered, if not the most important, in conveyor system design is the Total Cost of Ownership, or TCO. This is calculated by dividing the Initial Cost + Operational Cost + Maintenance Cost by the equipment’s Useful Life.

For example, a system’s initial cost is $45,000. Now we include the cost to operate the system, $1,250, and the cost of maintenance, $3,000. TCO is then known by dividing the sum of these costs by the number of years the system is expected to be productive until obsolete, $49,250. One can then drill down farther to an annum level and realize a defined annual cost to own the conveyor system.

With all the items listed above, there is no way that you will not maximize the Total Cost of Ownership and overall operating costs utilizing MDR conveyor technology.  Actual operating costs will vary depending on actual run times, but each topic discussed here represents a significant individual saving. When all these items are combined it represents savings that just cannot be ignored for companies looking to add a new conveyor system or replace an existing one.

Contact a Russell Conveyor expert to learn more about MDR conveyors and system design.

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James Jestes
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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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