What actually is a workpiece carrier?

Every manufacturing company faces the challenge of controlling the material flow for the product to be manufactured across all departments. With an intelligent parts carrier (small load carrier), this logistical challenge can be optimally solved. The process from the blank to the finished product is then ideally covered by a single parts carrier system. This allows the production, component cleaningstorage and logistics can be automated throughout.

workpiece carrier
workpiece carrier in production

Minimize scrap and protect surfaces

Every customer has an interest in maximum product quality. Especially after the surface treatment of a workpiece, it is important to protect it optimally. Production companies that work with low manufacturing tolerances are particularly challenged to guarantee maximum manufacturing quality. The components can therefore no longer be transported in bulk, as damage or abrasion cannot be avoided, especially in the case of metal parts. It needs a workpiece carrier! The special plastic holder, whether clip, Multiclip or plastic basket, guarantees gentle transport.

How is a workpiece carrier constructed?

Each workpiece carrier consists of two main components:
  1. Workpiece holder(or clip or Multiclip, plastic basket for bulk material)
  2. Carrier or tray, on which the clips or plastic baskets can be mounted.
Workpiece carriers are equipped with handles for optimal handling by machines or production employees. Spacers or the handles themselves guarantee the stackability of several workpiece carriers on top of each other.
workpiece carrier system

No automation without workpiece carriers

Especially in the age of Industry 4.0, production processes are being consistently automated. Consistent production conditions are required so that all robots and automation components can optimally control, remove and process the component and then transfer it to the next production step. These are realized, among other things, by workpiece carriers. The unique structure of the carrier defines a matrix on which each position can be precisely controlled.

Production steps that would be unthinkable or very difficult to automate with a box full of bulk goods (picking from the box) are easy to implement with a workpiece carrier that is filled only once. Workpiece carriers are usually moved, stored (buffered) or reloaded on a conveyor belt or workpiece conveyor along the production line. ZELL Systemtechnik is currently focusing on the production of workpiece carriers, baskets and other components for the transportation and washing of components.

workpiece carrier made of plastic

Fix components and protect them during transport

Within manufacturing, workpiece carriers can not only structure the entire flow of materials, but they also serve primarily to provide protection by clearly fixing the components.

The perfect workpiece fixture for every component

Each workpiece holder is adapted so that the component to be transported can be optimally protected. For example, if the component is ring-shaped, it can be accommodated with an adapted cylindrical clip. ZELL customers benefit from a portfolio with more than 700+ standard clips and Multiclips in a wide variety of designs. These are manufactured with injection molding machines from high-quality polyamide plastic and mounted on the carrier in large numbers. With a Multiclip that combines 9-36 individual clips, ZELL has been able to significantly reduce assembly time while increasing capacity on the same workpiece carrier.

Each clip, depending on size and shape, must now be mounted on the carrier. ZELL has established different processes here:
  1. The clip is screwed to the carrier from below (this method is used less and less often, because in intensive production processes, after some time, the small screws can loosen from the plastic).
  2. The clip is screwed in (currently the most common method, because in addition to the easy installation, this also ensures a high flexibility on the carrier surface)
  3. The Multiclip is snapped into place (with this innovation, the assembly effort has been further reduced)
The mounting method generally depends on the procurement of the carrier. For example, clips on our GRID and GRID Plus workpiece carriers are screwed to the cross points of the metal grid, on our carrier plates with molded punchings they are screwed in, and the Multiclips on our latest plastic carriers are merely snapped into place.

In any case, the result is a workpiece carrier capable of holding a corresponding capacity of components, depending on the number of workpiece holders. This makes workpiece carriers suitable not only for transport, but also for storage and logistics of high-quality workpieces.
plastic workpiece holder

Workpiece carrier as assembly

Generally, every manufacturer wants to offer its customers an individual solution that is perfectly matched to its component. However, a traditionally manufactured workpiece carrier becomes problematic when the production process changes, a new component is transported or a new project is planned. Since stainless steel workpiece carriers are often welded or bolted together, they can only be adapted to a limited extent.

The solution for the future is therefore modular, standardized workpiece carrier assemblies. Here, for example, the height can be easily adjusted by means of spacers. In addition, an assembly can always be easily mounted and dismounted (see video). Every customer can thus adapt his workpiece carrier system as desired.

ZELL recognized this early on and patented new products together with international customers. Today, the group of companies is the leading manufacturer of this new type of workpiece carrier.
More about our ZELL® Factory System
ZELL factory system

Why do I need washing baskets?

Normally, with a suitable workpiece holder (clip) for the respective component, the transport process within the company is secured. However, a suitable carrier on which the respective clip can be mounted is more than useful. So is the suitable basket, especially if it is suitable for washing workpieces.

Here, depending on the size of the basket, several work carriers can be used and stacked(see height determination). The basket is closed with an end cover. This usually has a safety mechanism to fix the individual workpiece carriers.

In addition to stainless steel baskets, plastic baskets are often used for gentle component cleaning. These are in turn inserted into suitable carriers, which are manufactured in such a way that they can accommodate all corresponding standard plastic baskets. All baskets are designed in such a way that the workpieces can be optimally rinsed.

From the beginning, ZELL has designed all products of the ZELL Factory System to be compatible with each other, especially for the respective standard size. This not only ensures a certain flexibility in the composition of the overall system, but ultimately also the basic safety of the components to be transported.

This is particularly important in cleaning processes. Within the washing lines, the baskets are gripped and swiveled for optimum cleaning. A coordinated workpiece carrier system thus avoids unnecessary re-charching processes.
More about our cleaning baskets

What materials are workpiece carriers made of?

As already mentioned, polyamide plastics are ideal for the production of individual workpiece holders. The carrier can also be made of dimensionally stable polyamide. Heat treatments in ovens, in particular, require a workpiece carrier made only of high-quality stainless steel (see GRID system) that retains its shape even at temperatures of up to 1,200 degrees Celsius. The weight of the components or the automation process itself also play a decisive role. ZELL has therefore repeatedly produced special industry solutions in the past, which are individually adapted to the workpiece to be transported.

ZELL Systemtechnik has decided to voluntarily obtain ISO:9001 certification in order to assure customers of maximum production quality.
workpiece carrier system as kit

Are workpiece carriers sustainable?

In fact, a workpiece holder that is individually adapted to a specific component is not sustainable at first glance. If a customer process changes or the production of a new, differently shaped component is necessary, the workpiece carrier can simply be dismantled and the clips used recycled .

The workpiece carrier itself can be used over and over again and only needs to be replaced if it is resized for a new machine, for example. Even in this case, however, it can be recycled. At ZELL, we have recognized that the greatest potential for sustainable use of our products lies in easy disassembly of the installed components.

For this reason, and to ensure even greater flexibility of the workpiece carrier assembly, we have made the strategic decision to manufacture our workpiece carriers only according to the modular principle . This is easier to assemble and disassemble.

All components can thus be completely separated and recycled. With the interchangeable round frames of our latest baskets, ZELL also guarantees the flexible adaptation and sustainability of the entire basket kit, as it can thus be changed in area. The same applies to our latest workpiece carriers, which can be adjusted in height depending on the number of spacer sleeves used.

Why standardize and not individualize?

As a manufacturer, our long-term goal is to develop workpiece carriers with and for our customers that offer them the greatest added value. With our standardized products we are today able to cover the majority of all customer requirements. A consistent standard of modular products guarantees an attractive price management, quality and fast availability of our portfolio.

In contrast, the number of 700+standard clips seems to contradict standardization. As already mentioned, each workpiece fixture has to be adapted to the respective component. This aspect has its justification, nevertheless our business experience confirms that many components are similar and already developed clips, often represent the required solution.

If a customer requirement exceeds the possibilities of our standard components by far, a new development of the suitable workpiece fixture is also conceivable.

One thing is certain, the limits of our current workpiece holders only define further innovations from ZELL. "We have ideas for better solutions!"
workpiece carrier
workpiece carrier
workpiece carrier
workpiece carrier
workpiece carrier
workpiece carrier
workpiece carrier
workpiece carrier
workpiece carrier
workpiece carrier
workpiece carrier
workpiece carrier
workpiece carrier
workpiece carrier
workpiece carrier
workpiece carrier

You would like to configure your own workpiece carrier system?

We would be happy to advise you on the configuration of your workpiece carrier system in a free online workshop. What are you particularly interested in?
Book a free meeting

Get suggested solutions for your component

We will be happy to generate 5 images of the workpiece carrier system that specifically fits your component. All we need is a CAD file of your workpiece. As a ZELL customer, you will be credited the one-time expense of 500,- USD for this with a subsequent order*.

Max 10MB. For confidential components or prototypes, you can send us your non-disclosure agreement (NDA) in advance to info@zell-group.com.

*over 5.000 EUR order value
is uploaded ...
Upload failed. Max size for files is 10 MB.
Thank you very much! We have received your message.
Attention. Please check your entries.
Workpiece carrier for thin aluminum plates built from ZELL Factory System
Workpiece carrier with turned part mounted on ZELL Factory system
Workpiece carrier with turned part mounted on ZELL Factory system
Stainless steel workpiece carrier with automotive part
Workpiece carrier with turned part mounted on ZELL Factory system
Stainless steel basket with base plate for rotating part
Stainless steel workpiece carrier with new clip for shafts
Stainless steel workpiece carrier with new clip for gears
Stainless steel workpiece carrier with new clip for battery components