The Horizontal Transporter (model TR1000) is a continuous loop overhead conveyor that runs at high speed designed specifically for carrying food product from a load point to a remote unload point in a quick serve restaurant . The system has very unique features that make it ideal for carrying light loads with maximum versatility along complex routes through small spaces.
The system can be customized to suit the unique requirements of each project and it can be configured to move your product in any direction, horizontally or vertically. The system can move around corners, between floors, around obstructions, over drive though lanes and through walls. The track system is typically suspended under the ceiling, or sometimes can be run in enclosures above the ceiling . Food product is carried in bags from a loading point to an delivery point where it is automatically unloaded from the system.
Benefits of the system are:
. Rapidly (within seconds) moves multiple payloads in an efficient and hygienic manner without any intrusion into a busy workplace
. Allows you to incorporate drive-thru lanes in restaurant sites that would not normally allow a traditional drive-thru layout
. Enables installation of drive-thru windows at a location far from the usual food delivery point
. Allows drive-thru windows to be located on different levels to kitchen
. Enables street level or street front kiosks to serve full menus instead of typically just drinks and ice creams
. Can be used to carry product across a drive thru lane to a kiosk serving a second drive-thru lane
. It is economical to operate and maintain
. Can be retrofitted into existing restaurants with little or no modification to the existing building
. Made up from lightweight aluminum track sections so the system needs no special structure to support it
. has small radius horizontal and vertical bends to allow the route to move through tight spaces
. Uses a lightweight train of cars to reduce power requirements
. Uses simple fractional horsepower motors
. Has special clips to carry products securely and automatically release them at the unload point.
The system is design for easy installation, trouble free operation and minimal maintenance requirements. Other features and benefits of the system are:
. Modular track components ensure quick, trouble-free, onsite installations
. Track is designed for easy installation and connection without the need for special brackets or welding.
. All parts are aluminum, stainless steel and high quality plastic to ensure that they are clean and hygienic
. Cars and wheels are made from a high performance plastic with built in lubricating properties, which means the system requires no further lubrication during operation
. High speed operation (up to 8ft per second) reduces product travel time and ensures rapid delivery from loading to unloading
. Product clips spaced 8ft to 10ft apart for high capacity
. On-demand operation means that the system only runs when required.
. Modular design of system ensures that maintenance is simple and repairs can be performed quickly to minimise downtime.
The Horizontal Transporter is a proven, high performance and reliable conveying system. Installed in over 100 restaurants around the world, the system provides customers with a cost effective way and trouble free to increase sales and profitability.
The Horizontal Transporter is an "on-demand" system. In other words, the system only works when there is product that needs to be carried from the load point to the offload point.
To operated the system, the crew person simply inserts the bag of product into the special product clip which holds the bag on the system. The system is started by pressing the "Load" button, and the clip is moved rapidly along the track at up to 8 ft per second. When the clip arrives at the offload point, the bag is automatically released from the clip onto a short chute where it is picked up by the server. The system will automatically stop as soon as the bag is unloaded unless further bags are loaded in the meantime.
When the restaurant is busy, the system does not need to complete the delivery of the first load before carrying the second load. The crew person can simply press the "load" button again when the system is still running, which slows the system down for a few seconds to enable the crew person to load the next bag into a product clip. As soon as the bag is loaded, the system accelerates back to full speed and continues to deliver the product. The system will keep running as long as bags are being consecutively loaded onto the system, and will only stop after the last bag is offloaded.
The time to carry a bag from loading to offloading will vary depending on the length of the system and the complexity of the route. The system normally runs at speeds ranging from 5 feet per second to 8 feet per second. Systems that have few corners tend to run at faster speeds than systems that have lots of corners.
The system is very unobtrusive. Because it is either suspended under the ceiling or runs in an enclosure above the ceiling, it is out of the way of normal operations. The location and way that the bags are suspended under the track means that the system rarely gets dirty.
The cost of operation is negligible and maintenance requirements are minimal. The system is designed to operate without additional lubricant as the cars are made from a special plastic formulation that has a built in lubricant. The product clips are robust, and the drive system consists of a solid state control and simple fractional horsepower DC motors that draw less than 3 amps each.
The Horizontal Transporter consists of a single continuous aluminum track made up into a closed loop that contains an endless "train" of small wheel cars connected together. The track is normally suspended from the ceiling and can be made to snake through the building from a loading point to an unloading point and back again. The track can run horizontally in a straight line and around corners; in a straight line on a 45 degree incline; and in a straight line in a vertical direction.
The Transporter can pass over kitchens, over dining rooms, through walls, between floors, and over drive-thru lanes to kiosks.
The design of the route that the track takes is determined by the location and orientation of the load and unload points; the position and size of kitchen equipment; and layout of the building itself. Typically, the track will run from a load point located in the food preparation area, the track route itself, and an unload point located by a drive-thru window or in a kiosk.
The significant advantage of the Horizontal Transporter is that it is not limited to a straight line between two points (like a normal conveyor belt) and it does not take up valuable floor space.
The actual track layout is made up of standard horizontal and vertical corners; and straight sections of track that are cut to length. All the corners and the straight track pieces are then all connected together on-site during installation.
|Horizontal Corners||Vertical Corners|
The continuous train of cars in the Transporter System is pulled around by an electric drive system that uses a dc motor with a direct drive sprocket that engages with teeth incorporated into the top of the cars. The Transporter is equipped with a solid state AC control system with logic for automatically stopping the system after the last bag has been unloaded. The variable speed control system also provides controlled acceleration and deceleration of the motor to prevent jerky starts and stops. Â The motor is a 90 volt, 1 amp, 1/4hp motor that is geared to run at 250rpm.
The number of drive motors required depends on the length and complexity of the system. There is a very small amount of play between each of the cars is the system which is multiplied as the number of cars increase. Also, as the train of cars passes around a corner, there is a small amount of drag. The combination of play and drag increases with the length and number of corners in a system. Shorter runs of less than 100ft [33m] total track length require one drive motor; longer runs require 2 (or more) drive motors. When multiple motors are used, they are generally spaced equally around the track.
The "Load" switches and Emergency Stop switches are heavy duty push button switches that operate at low voltages.
The Transporter carries product in bags that are held on the system by special Product Clips. The clips are attached to cars in the system and are equally spaced approximately 7 to 10ft apart (2 to 3m) along the track. The clips are made of heavy #304 stainless steel. Â Inside the clip there are two rubber coated wheels that are held against the tongue of the clip with a spring. The top edge of the bag is pushed into the clip between the wheels and the tongue, and the bag is held in place by the pressure of the spring pushing the wheels back against the tongue of the clip.
Bags can be easily pushed into the clip as this motion pushes the wheels away from the clip tongue. Once in t he clip, the bags are held in place very securely as the weight of the bag pulling on the clip increases the pressure of the wheels against the bag and the tongue of the clip. If you try to pull the bag out of the clip, the grip of the clip on the bag increases as you pull harder. This design ensures that the bags will not fall out of the clips during transportation.
To release the bag from the clip, a lever arm pulls the wheels away from the tongue of the clip, which in turn releases the pressure of the wheels allowing the bag to drop out of the clip.
What is the Transporter?
The Transporter is an overhead conveyor system designed to take bags of food from a preparation area in a kitchen of a Quick Serve Restaurant (QSR) and deliver it quickly and efficiently to a service location away from the kitchen. The system consists of a track suspended from the ceiling, with a continuous train of cars running through the track driven by a small electric motor. Special clips are located every 8 to 10 feet along the track. The bags of food are loaded onto a clip at the kitchen preparation area, and are quickly transported along the track to the unload area next to the service location, where the bags are automatically unloaded. The Transporter is a very unobtrusive system, as it is suspended from the ceiling so it does not take up valuable floor space or get in the way of equipment or workers. The Transporter runs in a continuous loop and is an on-demand system, which means it only moves when a bag is in a clip. The system can carry multiple bags at any one time, and can deliver a bag to the unload area every 10 seconds. It takes approximately 15 to 20 seconds for a bag to be loaded, travel along the system, and be unloaded at the service location.
When was the Transporter first developed?
The first prototype was built in 1993 and was installed in a McDonalds Restaurant in Los Angeles. It was designed to service a drive thru that was located on a floor below the kitchen. The following year in Texas, a second very large system was installed inside a Walmart superstore. This system enabled customers to place orders for their meals at the Walmart check-out counters, have the meals prepared at a McDonalds at the rear of the store, transported to the front of the store for the customer to pick them up before leaving the store.
Over the last five years, over 50 Transporter systems have been installed in Quick Serve Restaurants around the world.
Are there similar systems out there? If so, how does the Transporter differ?
The function of the Transporter is to deliver food product (in bags) from a kitchen prep area to a serving area such as a drive-thru window. There are a number of alternate ways to do this such as:
. The manual method. Using a single or multiple employees as "runners" to carry the bags through the kitchen to the serving area. This is often impractical and often dangerous as QSR kitchens are generally congested and very busy areas with both equipment and personnel, and have slippery floors that could lead to accidents. Â In some cases stairs are involved which add to the impracticality. A high volume restaurant often needs 3 or so runners to serve their drive thrus. In this case, using the Transporter would enable the operator to eliminate the runners.
. Belt conveyor systems. Cons of conveyors include: expense where runs have to go around corners and up/down levels; breakdown; hygiene (grease build up from spills); they take up a lot of space. Conveyors also require a lot of maintenance, and need regular service and lubrication (which in itself is a problem in food service areas from a hygiene perspective). In this case, the Transporter is a more viable alternative as it is less expensive; more reliable; takes up no space (its suspended from the ceiling out of the way), is hygienic (no part of the food is touched, bags are suspended so spillage is eliminated), requires virtually no maintenance and requires no lubrication.
. A competitive product called the Vittleveyor. This is an overhead conveyor system that is conceptually similar to the Transporter but is significantly different in its implementation. It uses a single suspended basket on an overhead track that carries product from the kitchen to the drive-thru, which then reverses to bring the basket back to the kitchen after delivery. t' a little like a glorified dumb waiter. It is cumbersome, and it can only carry one order per return trip and is quite slow, as opposed to the Transporter which runs in a continuous loop, can carry multiple loads at once, runs very quickly and is very unobtrusive.
Why would a Quick-Serve Restaurant operator want or need to install a Transporter?
Drive-thrus are a very important component in a QSR's business. Surveys indicate that upwards of 60% of a QSR's sales can come from a strategically located drive-thru. A QSR operator is therefore extremely keen to install a drive-thru whenever possible. So, unless the operator has seen or heard of the Transporter, he will do one of the following when considering the operation of, or addition of a drive-thru:
. Add his drive thru and use employees as runners
. Add his drive-thru and consider a conveyor system or the Vittleveyor
. In some extreme cases, pass over adding the drive thru as he thinks it would be impractical or impossible to do given his experience or understanding of available products to help him, and lose the additional business a drive-thru will bring.
. Where a new QSR is being considered, it's conceivable that the operator will pass over a site that is great from a demographic perspective but difficult from a drive-thru perspective if he cannot add a drive-thru.
Our objective is to provide the operator with an alternative that is more efficient and more cost effective, and in some cases, allow him to do things that would be impossible without the Transporter.
What has customer response been like? What are their employees saying?
In cases where the customer can see the loading area, they are fascinated by the system and its operation. In most cases, though, the system is in the kitchen area and the customer does not see it operate. Nevertheless, they benefit from it as they get their order delivered to them quickly at the drive-thru window or kiosk and their waiting time is reduced. The employees love the system as it saves them time and work. Its really easy to operate, and requires virtually no maintenance and no lubrication. Operators love the system because it is simple and trouble free, requires no maintenance, and best of all, helps them to dramatically increase sales.
How much can one expect to pay for installation?
A typical Transporter installation will cost between US$30,000 to $50,000 depending on length and routing. Even though this is likely to be one of the single largest cost items in a typical QSR, the ROI is significant with payback periods measured in months not years.
What type of ROI have customers seen?
This will vary from restaurant to restaurant depending on sales volume, configuration, and so on. Here are some examples:
. A low volume restaurant with a drive thru, using a single runner to take bags from the kitchen to the drive-thru working on average 10 hours per day at minimum wage. The payback period for the Transporter, based on eliminating the runner and his cost, would be 12 months.
. A high volume restaurant, using multiple runners working a total of 40 hours per day, would result in a payback period of 3 months.
. A moderate volume restaurant added a drive thru (which would have been impossible without a Transporter due to the difficult site configuration as the drive thru needed to be located at the back of the restaurant down a flight of stairs) increased same store sales from $1.5m per year to $2.1m per year after the drive-thru was added.
. A moderate volume restaurant with a drive-thru across the dining room and down a flight of stairs was served by a conveyor system. The conveyor broke down and would have cost $42,000 to replace or $15,000 to repair. Â The operator elected to replace the system with the Transporter as it would be less expensive than a new conveyor, would take up less room, and would have much lower operating costs and no downtime. In this case the ROI was immediate.
. A high volume restaurant located below street level had a small kiosk by the entrance to the restaurant on the street. The kiosk only served drinks and ice creams, and as the restaurant was in an area with significant foot traffic, a Transporter was installed so that a full menu could be served from the kiosk. Â Within two months of the Transporter being installed, sales had increased over 5%.
How long does it take for the Transporter to carry a bag from loading to unloading?
This depends on the length of the system and the complexity of the route. Â The system runs at approximately 6ft to 8ft per second. Typically, the length of track from the loading point to unloading point ranges from 50 ft to 100ft. Allowing for loading, conservative travel time would range from 6 to 20 seconds from load to unload.
What weight limit can the Transporter carry?
The product clips are very strong, and each clip can carry up to 10lbs. However, product is typically carried in paper bags. With heavy loads, the limitation tends to be the strength of the bag rather than the capacity of the system. When the system is running at full speed, the bags will swing as they pass around corners and the centrifugal force and weight in the bag may cause the bag to fail.
Is there anything that the Transporter cannot carry?
As the system moves so quickly, it is not very practical to carry drinks unless they are in a beverage container with a secure lid that will not pop off.
How much power does the Transporter use?
Power requirements are very low. A short system with a single motor uses around 200 watts, a longer system with two motors will use up to 400 watts.
What sort of maintenance requirements does the Transporter have?
Very little preventive maintenance is limited to keeping the system clean on a regular basis, and performing a motor check every 6 months. As we use DC motors, the motor brushes generally will require changing once a year. The system should never be lubricated (cars and wheels are made from a special polymer with built-in lubricating properties). Â Product clips should be checked monthly to remove any built up paper fragments. The cars should last at least 5 years.
Occasionally, cars and clips may get broken if they are hit by anything or get caught on anything, they are simple and quick to replace.
The system is highly modular so parts can be quickly replaced by someone with minimal knowledge of the system.
What sort of spare parts inventory do I need?
We supply a spare parts kit with the system to get you started. This kit consists of a spare motor, spare electronics control board, spare product clips and spare cars. Â Other parts can be dispatched by courier within 24 hours from our head office. Â We also have authorized service agents in some regions who carry additional parts inventory.
What do I need to do to get a Transporter for my restaurant?
That's easy! All we need is a set of plans for the area of the restaurant where the system will be installed. The plans should show wall, door and window locations as well as the kitchen equipment. You need to give us a brief explanation of why you need the system and where you would like to load and unload it. We'll then do some preliminary layouts and give you a rough budget price. If you decide that you want to proceed, we then refine the design and give you a final price for the supply and installation of the system.
Normally, a site visit is not required. However, if you have a complex system layout, or need to run the system above ceilings or through restricted areas, then we would come to inspect the site and go through any issues or construction that may be needed.
Once we have your order, it takes us about 4 weeks to manufacture the system, which is then shipped to your site in cartons, either by ground or by airfreight. Installation normally takes 5 days from the start to the final commissioning of the system.
Who installs the Transporter?
We have a team of skilled installers made up of our employees or employees from our service agents. They will install the system and train your personnel to use the system.