Did you know that there are seven different types of conveyor belts?
We know, wild!
To help you expand your conveyor belt definitions, we've gathered the pros and cons of each conveyor belt type together to inform your decision making.
A belt conveyor is a form of conveyor belt typically made up of a rubber belt and several motors or conveyor rollers. The belt moves products from one end to the other using friction.
Belt conveyors are typically low cost and efficient to use. Belts are ideal for operations that need to get up and running quickly.
Belt conveyors are also great for transporting items gently over long distances (up to 10,000 meters). They're easy to clean, and they handle things gently as well.
Unfortunately, belt conveyors have several significant downsides as well. Belt conveyors can only move in mostly straight lines because they rely on friction to keep items moving smoothly. Belts can also only move at slight inclines, making factory space a premium.
Finally, the setup cost can offset the lower cost of this conveyor system for some manufacturers.
A screw conveyor is just that—a giant screw-shaped rotating slide. Products land on the decline and slip up or down its length, landing on a platform or secondary conveyor below.
Screw conveyors can be used at a steeper angle than belt conveyors (close to 30 degrees of tilt), making them better than belts in confined areas.
Additionally, screws have excellent containment, simple construction, work against positive pressure, and work under high temperatures.
Extra high-speed screws can even elevate items vertically.
The primary drawback of screw conveyors is their length. In most cases, screw conveyors can't be more than 30 meters per conveyor.
Additionally, screw conveyors are challenging to clean, and their efficiency reduces as the angle of their incline increases.
The Chain Conveyor
A chain conveyor looks a lot like a belt conveyor, but with metal sections that pull your products along.
Chain conveyors are great for a lot of shops, but they work best with products that have edges that might damage a conveyor made of softer materials like rubber.
Chains can transport items over medium-to-large distances (100 meters or more), they have adequate containment, and they're easy on the product you transport on them.
Chain conveyors also won't be reactive to heat and other adverse climates.
Chain conveyors rub metal on metal, leaving small metal filaments on everything they touch - this makes them terrible for assembly lines that need to remain clean.
Additionally, these conveyors are hard to route, and they cost a lot of money.
This type of automated conveyor system has a base that vibrates at a swift pace and with a forward motion.
So, while the conveyor never rolls forward, your products still move along it.
Vibration conveyors are gentle on solid products, making them excellent for frozen, solid foods, and other similar manufactured goods.
These types of conveyors can operate at varying temperatures due to their typically metal construction.
These conveyors are usually only good on flat surfaces and over short distances (around 30 meters).
These conveyors can also not be used for any products that react negatively to vibrations, such as carbonated beverages and dairy, and softer products like soft rubber toys.
More delicate items tend to absorb the vibrations and stick to the conveyor, resulting in difficulty moving and excessive build up on the belt.
Finally, these conveyors need regular maintenance and replacement parts.
Out of all the conveyor belt types, the pneumatic conveyor is our favorite.
A pneumatic conveyor uses pressurized gasses, like air, that move objects through an enclosed passage with positive or negative pressure.
The product then drops into a hopper on the receiving end. A useful reference for these would be a vacuum tube at the bank drive-through.
Pneumatic conveyors are great for any material (aside from excessively sticky materials), and they can traverse exceptionally long distances (up to 300 meters in length).
Additionally, pneumatics can be used to transport materials at extreme angles and steep inclines.
Unfortunately, the versatility of pneumatic conveyors comes at a steep price. This type of conveyor will likely be one of the most expensive types of conveyor that you can install.
Additionally, pipes can run either horizontally or vertically and not at many inclines in between.
Finally, pneumatics are prone to wear at their bends, leading to premature failure and expensive maintenance.
Air slide conveyors are an exciting combination between a pneumatic solution and gravity-fed solutions.
Air is gently pushed along the length of the conveyor, cushioning your products as they slide to a landing spot below.
Air-slides are perfect for delicate items.
Air-slides will also slow the rate of descent of any suitable product on them to a manageable speed.
Unfortunately, products will only work on an air-slide if they have a high potential for friction or drag (A.K.A. boxes and items with a large surface area).
Additionally, the descent rate won't exert much force on the product, causing some materials to gather together in their packaging.
Finally, if items are stacked and sent down the conveyor, they stand a higher chance of becoming unstable or tumbling.
Gravity Chute Conveyor
A gravity conveyor is just that, a chute at a slight incline. Any products placed onto this incline will slide down it and into a collection area at the bottom.
Think of the slide that airports use to move luggage from the bag check to the plane.
These conveyor types are great for containment, low cost, easy to maintain, and a cinch to maintain.
These conveyors are great for disposals and manual sorting operations.
The strengths of this conveyor also become its weaknesses. Gravity conveyors are hard to control, and material can become stuck—leading to build-up on the inside of its chute.
What Types of Conveyors Are Right for You?
Now you know a little bit about the different kinds of conveyor belts, and each's pros and cons. Which system is right for you? Do you need pneumatics, or are you more of a belt person?
Either way, we're here to help you make your decision between the different types of conveyor belts. You can reach us here for more information.
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For all of your gravity conveyor needs, contact us.