Millions of Americans go to work every day in factories and warehouses all around the country and have jobs where they pull parts off a gravity conveyor system and assemble them at their workstation. Contrary to the image that many people conjure up when they think about the job of today's assembly worker, the work is far from being routine and monotonous. No one stands in a moving line waiting to turn a screw on the widget as it passes by every 5 seconds. Today's assembly jobs require a well-educated worker who is able to handle multiple tasks.
Some things have not changed. Products need to move along the line at a steady pace. A problem at one point in the line can cause a back-up all the way through the process. The steel rollers of the gravity fed conveyor belt still makes that familiar soft roaring sound as products slide their way down to the assembly stations. Workers must be quick and accurate when picking up components that will go into the finished product.
More than 100 years ago when Henry Ford introduced the assembly line as an efficient way of building a car, he also opened the door to other types of efficiencies businesses could have achieved. The advent of the gravity conveyor system made it much easier to move products, materials and supplies around a work space. Instead of having to lift up a heavy box and carry it 50 or 100 feet from one spot to another, the needed item could simply be slid along the steel conveyor wheels with a minimal amount of effort.
Workers use such systems to pick parts off of shelves or move items from workstation to workstation for final assembly, packaging and shipping. Orders that are picked off of warehouse shelves can be moved along the line until they reach the point where they are boxed up and ready to be loaded on to a truck and shipped out to their final destination. The amount of work and heavy lifting is greatly reduced and each employee can do his or her job more efficiently. Productivity goes up when gravity conveyor systems are used to expedite the movement of parts and products through the factory or warehouse space.
Additionally, operations will often set up manual, metal rolling gravity conveyors so that they feed directly from the back end of a truck down to the assembly workstations or staging areas. This allows for quick loading or unloading and also reduces the need for more workers to load or unload a truck.