In a plastics-industry first, Conair has unveiled “Conveying with Optimizer™,” a patented artificial intelligence (AI)-driven feature for material handling systems using the Conair SmartFLX conveying control. Now, a SmartFLX conveying control equipped with the Optimizer package automatically detects source-to-destination conditions (vacuum, receiver distance, material bulk density and other factors) then autonomously adjusts the conveying system in real-time to move material under optimal conditionsThis breakthrough AI-driven conveying system feature will be fully operational in a live demonstration at the Conair booth (W2113) at NPE 2024, May 6-10 in Orlando

The autonomous capabilities of the Conveying with Optimizer feature were designed to overcome the trickiest, most labor-intensive part of conveying operations: the need to manually adjust air and material ratios (using manual air valves) from source to destination. In practical terms, that means operators must constantly change settings on distribution boxes, pick-up boxes or gaylord wands to move material amid constantly changing system conditions. When systems are properly tuned and when operators guesstimate right, material usually moves predictablyBut an incorrect manual adjustment or any number of other changes – conveying distance, material bulk density/regrind ratio, relocated equipment, or even a minor vacuum leak caused by a hose or coupling – can spell conveying problems that result in downtime:  empty receivers, clogged lines, overloaded pumps, resin losses, or excessive system wear. 

The artificial intelligence built into Conveying with Optimizer replaces error-prone human decisions, instead making autonomous system adjustments that move material while compensating for typical conveying system faults. The Optimizer package combines novel software, hardware, sensors, and intelligence with the high-speed computing power of the SmartFLX control. Together, these elements sense, calculate, and compensate for changing conditions far faster than a human could, while ensuring optimal air/material ratios and trouble-free conveying. 

So, it’s no longer necessary for a processor to pay an operator to walk to the material distribution box, make a feed-tube adjustment, and then walk to the conveying control to issue a commandNow, the operator simply enters the command – locally on the SmartFLX control or remotely via Conair SmartServices on a connected device – and leaves the Conveying with Optimizer intelligence to figure it out and complete the conveying cycle. 

“The concept is similar to that of a self-driving car,” explains A.J. Zambanini, Director of Product Management for Conair. “All you have to do is select your destination and the Conveying with Optimizer intelligence takes care of the rest. It calculates what’s needed to move material from A to B, starts the cycle, and then further adapts system conditions when necessary. For example, if the bulk density of the material changes, the conveying line has a vacuum leak, or the receiver filter is getting clogged, Optimizer will adapt conditions to ensure that the material gets through at the optimum speed.   

“This approach is much different from a typical conveying system, where conveying conditions are pre-set, based on equipment, materials, and distances.  If there’s a change to the conditions, or there’s a problem or fault in one of those elements, the conveying cycle can become inconsistent, clog, or fail.  Then, you have to adjust the system manually, because, when it falls out of balance, it can’t compensate on its own.” 

The only prerequisite for Conveying with Optimizer is a conveying system equipped with a SmartFLX control. The Optimizer package may be ordered with a SmartFLX control from the factory or installed to an existing SmartFLX control in the field. Optimizer hardware, which is available in line sizes from 1.5 to 4 inches OD, is installed at material pick-up points, while Optimizer software upgrade is loaded into the SmartFLX control

The Conair Group ( offers innovative auxiliary equipment solutions to plastics processors around the world. With 32 degreed engineers, including 16 senior team members with an average of over 23 years of experience, Conair brings unparalleled technical expertise and support to its customers, guaranteeing its products will deliver maximum productive uptime. Twenty parts and service team members respond to tens of thousands of calls each year, answering in an average of about 15 seconds. Over 450 individual products include resin drying systems, blenders, feeders and material-conveying systems, temperature-control equipment, and granulators. Extrusion solutions include line-control systems, film and sheet scrap-reclaim systems, and downstream equipment for pipe and profile extrusion. Conair also has specialized expertise in every major end market – such as packaging, medical, transportation, building and construction, and many others – and strives to ensure plastics processors succeed in today’s competitive global marketplace. 

New from Conair, Conveying with Optimizer uses artificial intelligence (AI) to decide optimal conveying parameters and execute material transfers autonomously. This AI-driven feature package is offered as an option to Conair SmartFLX conveying controls.