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As we head into 2021, Smalley Manufacturing Company will be celebrating our 80th anniversary! We are incredibly proud and humbled by this achievement. We credit our longevity to our founders, our clients for the trust and confidence they have instilled in us, and our incredible team that delivers their best every time. With that, our 80th year in business provides a natural opportunity to reflect on how the company has grown, evolved, and improved since its foundation.

Smalley Manufacturing Company has been providing high-quality conveyors and conveying systems since its beginning in 1930. In the 1900s, Alfred E. Smalley Sr.. began developing automation equipment for cracking and separating edible nuts. By 1930, Mr. Smalley had patented his automatic nut shelling machine, and quickly became known as a leading expert in the automation of shelling and picking edible nuts. Mr. Smalley and his family moved from Kansas City, MO to Knoxville, TN where he continued manufacturing equipment for the nut processing industry. In June of 1940, Smalley Manufacturing Co. Was born as it officially received its certificate of incorporation.

Alfred Smalley sr. Smalley Manufacturing
Alfred E. Smalley Sr.
Al Smalley Jr Smalley manufacturing
Alfred (Al) E. Smalley Jr.
Dale Roberto Smalley Manufacturing
Dale Roberto
Eric Giffen Smalley Manufacturing
Eric Giffen, Current President

When Alfred Smalley passed away in 1954, his son Alfred (Al) E. Smalley Jr., inherited the company. Al continued designing and manufacturing nut shelling machinery while also developing conveyor equipment for the flexible packaging industry. In the early 1960s, the growth of the flexible packaging industry was exploding and eventually led to Smalley Manufacturing’s focus on designing and manufacturing the leading sanitary automatic feeding, elevating, and conveying machinery available.

To combat the need for a larger manufacturing facility due to the fast growth of Smalley’s line of conveying equipment and customer base, Al purchased a property in 1965 and built the manufacturing facility that is still in operation today. Over the years, Smalley Manufacturing has developed and patented some of the most innovative conveying equipment in the world. In fact, many of its customers are a part of the Forbes Fortune 500 list of leading food processing companies. When Al passed away in 1997, Dale Roberto became President of the company. After Mr. Roberto’s death in 2015, the company continued operations under the ownership of seven shareholders, and the leadership of Eric Giffen, serving as President and CFO.

To this day, Smalley Manufacturing continues to design and manufacture the highest quality conveyors and conveying systems for the food industry operating out of Knoxville, TN. Even though the company has seen significant growth over the years, they have always maintained the vision that Alfred E. Smalley Sr. developed over 80 years ago; “To be the most respected name in custom designed and manufactured conveyors and conveying systems in North America. We strive to continue our transformation in manufacturing, engineering, sales, service, and management techniques as an ongoing learning process, while striving diligently and conscientiously to build and improve our relationship with our customers, our employees, and our suppliers, by always remembering that in a truly successful company, everybody wins.”

A Look Back Over The Years

Smalley Group 1965
1965 Company Photograph
Smalley Group 1996
1996 Company Photograph
Smalley group 1973
1973 Company Photograph
Smalley Group
2016 Company Photograph

Conveyor Belt Tracking Basics

To keep any belt conveyor running properly, it is important that you are able to correctly track the belt. In this blog post, we will walk you through conveyor belt tracking basics for most belt conveyors. To track a belt you will be using the idlers, pulleys, product location, and belt condition to control the direction of belt travel.

Conveyor Belt Tracking Basics

The first step is to make sure that your conveyor is installed squarely and that the belt you are using has been cut and spliced correctly. If a conveyor has been installed out of square or the belt is not properly cut or spliced, tracking the belt will be a difficult or impossible task.

Next, you will need to verify that your belt is under proper tension. You can determine the proper tension for your particular style of belt by contacting the belt manufacturer. Use the adjustable take-ups on the conveyor to set that belt tension. Keep in mind that it is absolutely imperative to align the pulleys so that they are square to the bed of the conveyor.

Now, you are ready to check your belt travel and track it. When tracking a belt, you will want to start with the conveyor running empty with no product load. Additionally, you will want to run the belt a few rotations after each adjustment to allow it to work in each change before making any additional adjustments.

One rule of thumb for belt travel is that the belt will move towards which side of the roller it contacts first. You will use this rule as you make adjustments in the idler rollers.

When tracking the belt, the idler rollers should be the first rollers you adjust. Some conveyors will only have return idlers and some may have idlers on top, such as troughing idlers, that can also be adjusted. You will need to shift the idler(s) so that you move the end of it towards the side of the belt that you want the belt to track towards. This can be seen in the illustration above.

Only use the head and tail pulleys as a last resort when tracking. These should typically remain square with the bed of the conveyor.

Once you have the belt running correctly you will then run it with the product and verify that the product is being fed to the center of the belt. If it is off center, you will need to use a chute (as seen above) to correctly center the product on the belt.

Hopefully, this article will assist you in tracking your belt conveyor. If you still need assistance with tracking belts, we would be glad to talk to you about setting up one of our highly trained service technicians to visit your plant. Our technicians can work on correcting any tracking issues you may have, and they also offer hands-on training. In addition, we can offer automatic belt trackers that can be customized to virtually any conveyor.

If you would like to discuss conveyor belt tracking basics or any of our belt conveyors in more detail please contact Cory Crawford, our service manager, at 865-966-5866 or ccrawford@qp6.ce9.myftpupload.com.

Smalley recently worked with Ferrara Candy Company, the product of the merger of Ferrara Pan Candy Co. and Farley’s & Sathers, to achieve an output of 24,000 lbs of pouched candy per hour.

Follow the link below to see how five of Smalley Manufacturing’s Storveyors are being used to pump out 400 lbs of pouched candy per minute:


Smalley Manufacturing just returned from PACK EXPO in Las Vegas, Nevada!

With more than 27,000 attendees present and over 1,700 exhibiting suppliers, PACK EXPO 2013 was a major success. We hope that you were able to stop by if you were in attendance. If you weren’t able to attend you missed out on a tremendous experience packed with machinery, technology, education, networking, and more.

We appreciate those who took the time to stop by our booth, and we would also like to welcome those who weren’t able to stop by the booth or make it to the show.

Introducing the “NEW” Smalley tote fill unit specifically designed to fill totes efficiently while “LOWERING” the product “GENTLY” into the bin. The system incorporates a stainless steel holding bin mounted on a sturdy tubular construction platform. The product is then “GENTLY” and precisely conveyed from the bin via an electromagnetic feeder on to the constant velocity rotating spiral.

The spiral is specifically designed to maintain a constant conveying speed that will reduce degradation to the product. Once the tote is in position and presented for filling by the roller feed system, the spiral will lower to within a foot of the bottom of the tote, then slowly raise as the product fills the tote, leaving a minimum amount of product free-fall that will in turn reduce the degradation.

The product and tote weight is constantly monitored by load cells sitting directly below the tote. A leveling shaker is also included to condense the volume of the product into the tote. Once the tote reaches the desired weight, the spiral will fully retract and the now filled tote will be conveyed into a staging area while a new tote enters the system.

The control system is state of the art using Allen Bradley components complete with a fully integrated touch screen for easy operation. Our controls shop is UL listed and strictly complies with the latest codes; we will also engineer our controls using components of your preference.

Dependent upon the sanitation requirements, the unit can be manufactured from all stainless steel for complete wash-down, or more economical carbon steel with stainless contact parts.

Equipment Features

  • Compact and robust design.
  • Gentle on your products with components specifically designed and proven to reduce degradation.
  • Fully automated system requiring only loading and unloading of empty or full totes.
  • Tote staging can be increased or decreased depended upon floor space available.
  • Manufactured to meet your sanitation requirements.
  • Proven technology backed by the Smalley name for excellence.

Smalley Manufacturing will be at Pack Expo in Las Vegas, NV at the Las Vegas Convention Center September 28th through the 30th. New and exciting things are always happening at Smalley Manufacturing, so be sure to make it a point to stop by and see us. Our booth number is C-3700.

We look forward to seeing you at the show! Follow this link for more information about the show, tickets, and travel arrangements.

Smalley Manufacturing will be at Pack Expo in Chicago, IL at the McCormick Place November 2nd through the 5th. We are getting geared up for a great show, so make plans to stop by our booth, number N-5004.

Whether you already know Smalley or you are interested in learning more, we look forward to seeing you at the show!

Follow this link for more information about the show, tickets, and travel arrangements.

The code for your free admission is 68C94. Simply click the link below and complete the online registration process to attend the show free of charge.

Click here to begin registration

Define the product

One of the first steps that should be taken when designing a conveyor system is to define the product and all of its characteristics. Size, rate, density, and fragility of product are usually some of the first characteristics to be defined, but other attributes such as corrosiveness, tackiness, product temperature, and angle of repose are other key factors that need to be considered in order to design a successful conveying system.

Determine the environmental conditions

Sanitation standards, cleaning procedures, room temperature, and atmospheric conditions will define conveyance methods and equipment construction. A successful conveying system will be designed to match the specifications of its intended application.

Think outside of the box

– Usually customers know what does and does not work when referring to the conveyance of their individual products, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t think outside of the box when designing a conveying system for their needs. Each application is different, but by considering different conveyance methods and design opportunities that haven’t necessarily been laid-out on the table, you may uncover ways to design a more effective system.

Reflect on the past

– When designing a conveyor system, it is good practice to use past experiences to guide your thought process. Chances are that no two applications will be the exact same. There will almost always be something different about each individual situation, but you should still rely on your past experiences to help mold your approach to a new project.

Smalley Manufacturing is committed to becoming the most respected name in custom designed and manufactured conveying systems in North America. Part of this commitment includes continually evolving our equipment’s design standards in order to meet the requirements and expectations set by our customers.

Every piece of equipment that we manufacture is designed and engineered to specifically suit its individual application. This is accomplished by an open network of communication between the customer and Smalley, as well as an open line of communication between Smalley’s sales, engineering and design, electrical controls, and production teams.

We are proud of our ability to meet each customer’s individual requirements, and this ability was featured in an article written by Kevin Higgins for Food and Engineering magazine.

See the link below to read more about how we custom designed and manufactured conveying systems for a food manufacturer that incorporates high sanitation standards with maximum cleanability and accessibility.

Fabulous Food Plant: Breakfast, Courtesy of Malt-O-Meal

All machines should be examined on a regular basis to make sure they are running at the peak of their efficiency. AutoGlide™ horizontal motion conveyors made by Smalley Manufacturing Company are no exception. When I watch an AutoGlide™ in operation, I look at a few simple items to make sure it’s alright.

Of course, the first thing you should do is to observe conveyor and product motion and ask yourself several questions:

  • Has anything changed since the first time your product moved down the pan?
  • Does the product move slower than before?
  • Does the product move straight down the pan, or does it drift to one side or the other?
  • Is there noticeable sideways movement or “orbiting” of any part of the AutoGlide™?

To efficiently convey a bulk product, an Autoglide™ must have the proper vibration in terms of total stroke, cycle rate, and timing. Total stroke is the distance that an AutoGlide™ pan and drive travel between the full forward position and the full rearward position. With few exceptions, the stroke should be between 1-1/16” and 13/16”. The way I measure the stroke is to hold a pencil point against the side of the pan and let the pan move past the pencil, thus drawing the stroke. Just be sure to keep the pencil steady. Then, the next time the AutoGlide™ is stopped, I use a tape measure to see how long the stroke line is.

It takes special equipment to measure the cycle rate. I usually use a timing light; changing the rate of the strobe flashes until the vibrating conveyor appears to be motionless. When that occurs, the timing light’s frequency (indicated by the dial or the display on the timing light) is the same as the AutoGlide™’s rate. You should see a frequency of 350 cycles per minute.

If you found sideways motion, orbiting, or an uneven motion of the AutoGlide™’s cycle, then it likely that the timing belt has jumped a few teeth or it may have come off the sprockets. You can tell which case you have by how much it is moving in the unusual direction. A slight change means only you are only a few belt teeth out of time. A large change (also accompanied by a drastic reduction in product convey speed) means the belt has come off.

If the motion of the AutoGlide is normal, then you can move on to inspect the structure of the conveyor. Let’s start with the physical condition of the drive. With the AutoGlide™ running, I listen closely for any unusual sounds coming from it. For instance, when a bearing on one of the eccentric weight shafts is beginning to go bad you will hear an irregular ticking that might make you think of Morse code. As you listen to the drive on multiple occasions, you’ll learn what it normally sounds like and be able to pick out any changes.

With the AutoGlide™ not running, I look all around the drive body for any cracks; paying special attention to the plates that connect the pan to the drive as well as the points where the four drive hanger arms (they are the pivoting arm between the drive and the support frame) are bolted to the drive body. While you are at each hanger arm, take a moment to check that both of its bolts are tight and that the rubber elements of both torsional bushing are properly in place. Once you’re satisfied that the drive structure is OK, then move on to the pan.

You can check the pan in much the same way as the drive. Inspect each pan hanger arm the same way you did the drive hanger arms – bolts tight and rubber elements OK. Look all over the pan structure for any signs of cracks. If your pan has gates or other mechanisms, then you need to check that all their bolts are tight and that no parts have broken.

By inspecting these points on a regular basis, you can get to know the normal state of your AutoGlide™ and detect small changes in its condition. That way you can correct any issues with the least expense and before you experience a breakdown. If you would like to learn more about taking care of your AutoGlide™ then please contact us. We are always ready to help you keep your conveyor system running smoothly.

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