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Conveyor Systems 101: Understanding The Basics

Human beings have a history of advancing technologies to aid in everyday struggles. One such advancement is conveyor systems that are designed to transport hefty and bulky products from one place to another with ease.

The history of conveyor belts dates back to the 19th century; however, many people are still unaware of the exact work behind this technological advancement. Therefore, this comprehensive guide is going to delve into the basics of conveyor belts and the complete functioning of conveyor systems. 

What is a Conveyor System?


Before we delve into the intricate types of conveyors, it is essential to gain basic knowledge of conveyor systems.

Conveyor systems are used to transport goods, products, supplies, components, and equipment for manufacturing, shipment, or relocation. These conveying systems are classified as pneumatic, screw, belt, or roller. Individual systems are built based on the materials to be moved, which include their weight, size, and transportability.

How Do Conveyor Systems Work?


Conveyor systems or belts function by utilizing pulleys that loop continuously, allowing the material to pass through them. A continuous movement from a collection of hooks, gears, buckets, belts, and rollers powers the pulleys. 

A frame supports the belt carrying objects from one location to another. These rollers support the conveyor systems, preventing them from bending in the middle while moving bulky materials.

Belt conveyors are commonly used for transporting material, while roller conveyors are used for accumulating products. With the proposed systems, the conveyor belts are usually made of PVC or rubber. The belts are mostly made of several piles to provide shape and linear strength. 


Different Types of Conveyors

There are different types of conveyor systems based on the different designs or manual and mechanical functions.

1. Belt Conveyors 

Belt conveyors are the most popular and primary type of conveyor, with various speeds. They have a moving belt that is supported by a steel frame that also serves to support the belt and the goods being transported.  

Sliding style is a variation of conveyors that have a supporting structure beneath. A roller belt style is one in which the belt is supported by closely spaced rollers.

2. Gravity Roller Conveyors

Gravity roller conveyors are constructed from a series of rollers that are evenly spaced and coupled to a side frame. The rollers’ location gives a surface on which to lay things for movement. Materials move by gravity when a gravity roller conveyor is slanted or installed at an angle.  

Workers must be mindful of more oversized items colliding with smaller ones while loading parts of varied sizes onto a gravity roller conveyor. Shipping businesses employ gravity roller conveyors to load and unload vehicles.

3. Chain Conveyors

Chain conveyors can feature two or more sets of chains that come into touch with the bottom of the goods to be conveyed. As the materials are transported, they rest on the chains.  

Items that have uneven bottom surfaces or are particularly heavy are perfect for chain-operated conveyors. Pallets can be put directly on those with a heavy frame. Chain conveyors move quite slowly due to the sorts of goods they transport.

4. Motorized Roller Conveyors

Motors positioned along the conveyor frame power uniformly spaced rollers on motorized roller conveyors. With the inclusion of motors, the architecture is similar to that of a gravity conveyor. 

The number of motors required is determined by the load to be transported and the system’s overall architecture. A chain or belt can be used to link the rollers. In specific systems, a sensor begins and stops the motor to prevent parts from becoming entangled.

5. Slat Conveyors

Slat conveyors are like chain conveyors in that flat slats are attached to the chain. They are comparable to belt conveyors in several aspects, except that slats replace the belt. 

The smooth surface of the slats minimizes damage or injury to the goods being moved, making them excellent for assembly applications. Slat conveyors can be loaded and unloaded utilizing robotic automation since the surface is smooth and free of impediments.

Overhead Conveyor Systems

Overhead conveyor systems are motorized conveyors that are designed to free up floor space and transport bulky products through easy and efficient designs. Here are the different types of overhead conveyor systems:

1. Screw Conveyors  

Screw conveyors transport goods with an auger-like action, commonly horizontally or at a modest inclination. Since the connecting bolts are the weak point in this design, they are ideal for tiny places and short lengths. 

These conveyors are ideal for wet items that cake and adhere together and can also be utilized in mixing applications, making them an excellent option for dryer inlet discharges.

2. Drag Chain Conveyors  

A drag chain conveyor employs a chain and paddle design to transport material. They are classified into two types: en masse and bulk flow. 

A low-profile paddle in a tall box is used in en masse conveyors. It is ideal for dry materials like grains that can be stacked and yet ride smoothly on top of one another. 

This configuration is more likely to be utilized for dry items on long-distance lines with little gradient. A taller paddle in a partitioned box is used in bulk flow drags, and the design is more suited for wet materials, steeper inclines, and S-path arrangements.

3. Vibrating Feeders  

While they are less popular, vibrating feeders offer advantages. Since they employ vibrating trays to advance materials, they are ideal for items that clump or cling together. 

They are also helpful for adhesive goods that need to cool, as well as coating applications. As they go from coater to chiller, the vibration prevents them from clumping.


Conveyor systems are an intricate combination of basic and primary mechanical components to create a functioning transportation system to move goods from one place to another.

Moreover, these conveyor systems differ due to their designs and configuration, including overhead or gravity-based conveyor systems.


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