Ole Rygh is the founder and CEO of Ryson International Inc. Headquartered in Yorktown, Virginia, Ryson specializes in vertical conveying solutions and features spiral conveyors among its key products.
While his company has been in business for 25 years, Rygh has worked in the material handling and packaging sectors for almost 50 years as a mechanical engineer and industry executive. He was the president of Munck Systems during the pioneering days of automated storage and retrieval systems (AS/RS) and automated guided vehicle (AGV) development. Rygh also was president of IDAB International Inc., a global company specializing in material handling systems for the newspaper industry.
Q: How do you view the state of the material handling market and the market for spiral conveyors in particular?
A: The material handling market is currently very strong and shows no sign of slowing down in the near future. The same goes for the spiral conveyor market. Last year was a record year for Ryson despite the pandemic. We were designated a critical essential business as defined by the Department of Homeland Security, and we were in full production throughout the year.
Q: Your original training was as an engineer. How does that background help you in managing a material handling equipment company?
A: My engineering background has helped me to find solutions that will improve our customers’ operations and be of benefit to them. It has also helped me to better evaluate future business opportunities.
Q: Has the e-commerce boom boosted demand for spiral conveying systems?
A: Part of our growth comes from the e-commerce market segment, including order fulfillment centers, e-commerce warehousing, and omnichannel distribution operations. We have developed a line of spiral conveyors that are especially well-suited for this market. This includes our new High-Capacity Spirals that have twice the weight capacity of our regular spirals at speeds of up to 200 feet per minute and can reach heights of up to 35 feet with only one drive.
Q: Are there particular markets that you see emerging for spiral conveyors?
A: The nice part of our business is that spiral conveyors can be used in many different industries and applications. Our product development program is focused on expanding our product lines to also serve market segments that handle very small products at high speed and markets that convey large and heavy products.
Q: Do you see autonomous mobile robots as a threat to conveyors or do you see ways in which the technologies can coexist?
A: I would say that our spiral conveyors co-exist well with new technologies that support automation, such as autonomous mobile robots. Today, our customers are looking to operate faster and with fewer people. They also like to acquire products with a low total cost of ownership.
Q: With distributors looking for facilities in urban areas, there is a need for multistory sites with smaller footprints. Does that increase demand for spiral conveyors to move between levels?
A: We are seeing an increased demand for spiral conveyors in multilevel distribution centers. We have developed spirals that allow products to enter or exit the spiral at multiple vertical elevations within one small footprint. The Ryson induction and divert-out conveyors feature individually adjustable conveying surfaces to match the spiral pitch, assuring safe and reliable product transfer.
Q: You have long been involved with industry associations. Why is that important to you?
A: Being involved with industry associations gives me inspiration and the opportunity to work with many talented people of different backgrounds and with lots of experience. It is also a very good feeling to be able to give something back to our industry.