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Ball Transfer Units: Helping Manufacturing Soar during Shutdowns

Ball Transfer Units: Helping Manufacturing Soar during Shutdowns

The pandemic has reshaped how people work and shop. With limitations on how far people can travel still in place in some countries as the Coronavirus emergency continues, ordering online is the clear and simple solution — especially as some non-essential physical stores remain closed.

This has put increasing amounts of pressure on companies, both new and old, some of which may only recently have started digital operations, as orders via the internet come flooding in. For the manufacturing and pharmaceutical sectors, in particular, it has been a period of enormous growth — and stress.

Delivery and logistics firms have also experienced huge demand in the last year, while they too grappled with overburdened operations and getting parcels from A to B. Especially in this time of pandemic, with many people still stuck at home, consumers want their orders quicker than ever, and spending days waiting around for something to arrive is not acceptable.

Revving up Manufacturing with Conveyors and Ball Transfer Units

Enter the humble ball transfer unit and, on a wider scale, an array of conveyor systems that swiftly move products off manufacturing lines, into warehouses, out to delivery firms, and then for dispatch out to customers.

Ball transfer units are small spheres surrounded by ball bearings and housed in a metal structure that’s placed in a sheet typically containing dozens of them. They allow all kinds of products to be moved around with ease, as even the heaviest items glide over the units and are easy to handle and shift to where they’re required.

Ball transfer units also allow workers to quickly place large volumes of cargo into the holds of aircraft and get them out at the destination, enabling the global supply chain of every imaginable product to quickly and seamlessly get to markets. Conveyor belts and other systems, like transfer conveyors, are designed to move products about factory floors and can easily be configured to meet requirements and get new manufacturing lines up and running.

Big Growth in Conveyors Market

Such is the demand for manufacturing essentials like ball transfer units and conveyor systems that the global market for conveyors alone is forecast to grow to over $10 billion by 2026, from just over $7.7 billion in 2020 — an annual growth rate of 4.5%, according to a new report.

“With the globalization of the economy, shorter product cycles, and the advancements in eCommerce, the international flow of goods is increasing and accelerating, which is driving the market studied,” an analysis of the research says.

Unsurprisingly, much of the growth in this sector is in the Asia-Pacific region, where the bulk of the world’s products are made due to lower production and labor costs. It’s the largest and fastest-growing market for conveyor systems, the report found.

Speedier Online Deliveries for Online Orders

Speedier online deliveries mean that customers are now getting their orders much faster — from an average of 5.5 days for products bought online in 2012 to two to three days in 2019, the study says. Ball transfer units and “[c]onveyor systems help in simplifying the task of handling bulky materials … play[ing] a vital role in operations by reducing and minimizing the production cycle time and errors respectively,” it notes.

Getting all those hundreds of millions of doses of the various and urgent Coronavirus vaccines off pharmaceutical production lines, onto planes, and to countries all over the world has been vastly aided by ball transfer units and conveyor systems, the report adds.

As well as getting us the products — and jobs — we all need, these innovative manufacturing solutions are also helping to give us our lives back as we slowly but surely, and finally, emerge from lockdowns.


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by Brian Perry // Brian Perry is a contributor to Businessing Magazine.

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.