Introduction and ScopeEdit

A company can use many different approaches to fulfill an order. Often it can be difficult to transport items around a facility, especially if these items are moved frequently, are in a large quantity, or are heavy. Automation can be used to help make this process easier. Conveyors technologies can be an easy fix for this problem depending on the product being ship, rate requirements, and investment levels [1].  Conveyors are convenient for transporting items from one place to another along a fixed path. There are a variety of conveyors, but belt conveyors will be the primary focus of this page.This page will describe and explain the material handling device known as belt conveyors.

Belt conveyors are the most commonly used conveyors when it comes to bulk handling. This is because they are reliable, versatile, and have a wide range of capabilities [2] .  They are also cost effective and very efficient. Moreover, belt conveyors can be used to change elevation when transporting a product. This is because of the high friction created between the carrying belt and the item [3] . This is proof that belt conveyors are very versatile because they can be used for bulk and unit materials and can be located overhead or on the floor .


Belt conveyors have been around for a long period of time. The actual invention cannot be traced back to an exact date, but they have been used since the 19th century [1].  The first belt conveyor systems were very primitive. They consisted of belts that were made out of materials such as leather, canvas, or rubber placed over a flat wooden bed. However, this system provided the baseline for engineers to use to create and improve belt conveyors over time [4]. The transition of belt conveyors through time is shown below:

  • 1892: Thomas Robins began a series of inventions which eventually led to the creation of a conveyor belt. This was used to carry coal,ores, and other raw materials [5].
  • 1901: The Swedish firm Sandvik started to produce belt conveyors that were made of steel [1].
  • 1905:  Richard Sutcliffe completely changed the mining industry by inventing a belt conveyor that could be used in the coal mines [5].
  • 1913:  Conveyor-belt assembly lines were introduced at Ford Motor Company’s Highland Park, Michigan factory by Henry Ford [5]. They were the first car manufacturer to use assembly lines with belt conveyors.
  • 1957:  The B.F. Goodrich Company filed a patent for the Turnover Conveyor Belt System. This allowed the belt to wear and tear on both sides because it had an integrated half-twist, which greatly extended a belt’s life [1].
  • Untitled
    1970:  The first patent for all plastic, modular belting was registered by a Louisiana based company called Intralox [5].
  • 1972:  A French society created the longest straight conveyor belt at the time. It was measured at a length of 13.8 km [1].

Belt conveyors have been improved greatly over the years.  New ideas and technological innovations have ensured the importance of belt conveyors in the material handling industry today.  Using computers today has increased automation and helped the systems to become more efficient than ever [4].

Common Belt Conveyor ApplicationsEdit

  • Assembly and kitting operations
  • Transportation of products over long distances
  • Transportation of loose materials or trash
  • Pre-Sortation where gapping and product tracking are essential
  • Delivery of product to and from robotic cells
  • Conveyance at high speeds
  • Inclining and Declining Conveyors [6]

Design Parameters Edit

Belt conveyors are commonly used equipment for continuous transport with a high efficiency and large conveying capacity. They require a very small amount of maintenance work and are a simpler type of construction.

The belt conveyor system consists of:

  • Drive unit (electric motor, coupling multistage gearbox)
  • Pulleys (Drive pulley)
  • Idlers
  • Belts (textile or steel cords) with joints

The drive unit consists of electric motor, damping coupling, two or three stage gearbox and coupling that connect output shaft with pulley. The pulley consists of two bearing, shaft, shell and coating. Idlers are similar to pulleys and consist of bearing and shell and are used for supporting the belt with transport materials. This support system for the belts consists of three idlers. Belts used in a conveyor system can be divided into two parts which include textile belts and steel belts.[7]


General Purpose Belts Edit

This is wide group of belting that is typically made of an inner carcass and an outer cover. Typical materials that are generally used for these belts are rubber, PVC, Urethane, Neoprene, Nylon, Nitrile, Polyester, leather, and more.

  • These belts are used for a wide variety of applications including:
  • High friction for inclining/declining
  • Low friction for accumulation
  • Oil resistant
  • Cut resistant
  • Food grade
  • Electrically conductive
  • High temperature

Gapping Slider Bed Belt ConveyorEdit

This type of belt conveyor is used in a system where gaps are placed between cartons. It consists of two slider bed conveyors within one frame.  This is done by operating at different speeds.  Applications include sorting and feeding items.[6]

Belt Curve ConveyorEdit

Belt Curve conveyors are often used if a product is too short in length to be conveyed on a roller curve conveyor. Another widely used application is prior to product sortation when product tracking, product gap and high speeds exceed the capabilities of a roller curve conveyor.[6]



Troughed Belt ConveyorEdit

This type of conveyor is an open framed with a trough effect of the rubber belt to fully contain the load materials.  They are manufacture with the application to:

  • Convey high tonnage of materials.

    Troughed Belt Conveyors

  • Handle gradual inclines over long runs of 150 or more.
  • Convey horizontal up to 28° incline depending on product.
  • Require very little maintenance.

Plastic Belting and Chain Edit

This type of belting is commonly known as Tabletop, MatTop, Angled Roller Belting, and MicroSpan. It is typically lightweight, durable and wear resistant.


These belts are used for a wide variety of applications including:

  • Food production
  • Packaging
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Manufacturing

Hinge Metal Belting Edit

This is an incredibly durable type of belt conveyor that is often used for machine chip and scrap removal.

These belts are used for a wide variety of applications including:
  • Wet or dry operation
  • High temperature operation
  • Machine tool chip and scrap removal
  • Whole plant chip and scrap removal
  • Die cast operations
  • Parts handling

Woven Wire Belting- Edit

This is a type of belt conveyor that is commonly used in very low/high temperature environments and during the drying process.

These belts are used for a wide variety of applications including:

1.   In food processing belts are used for:

  •  Washing
  • Baking
  • Dewatering
  • Blanching
  • Cooking
  • Freezing
  • Pasteurizing
2.    In glass and ceramics belts used for:
  •  Firing
  • Decorating
  • Enameling
  • Annealing
  • Fiberglass curing

3.   In electronics belts used for:

  • Glass to metal sealing
  • Thick film firing
  • Drying of printed circuit boards

4.    In metalworking belts used for:

Belt Conveyor Types

Belt Conveyor Types

  • General conveying
  • Heat treating
  • Quenching
  • Annealing


Belt Conveyor Issues Edit

Expected problems with the belt include:

  • Tears
  • Punctures
  • Cut of belt and abrasion of bottom/top covers
  • Malfunctioning joints

Replacement of damaged parts like a gearbox or pulley require heavy machinary, which can increase down time.

Disadvantages of using a belt conveyor include:

  • Can not move sticky materials
  • Almost always has material carry over from belt discharge [9]

To see some available solutions to solve these issues please visit for supplemental text.

Benefits of Belt Conveyors Edit

When choosing bulk material handling equipment, belt conveys have some advantages such as:

  • One of the cheapest ways to move bulk material long distances
  • Belt conveyors can handle material sizes from very fine to large lump sizes ( portland cement, coal)
  • Supports large capacities either in batching operations or small amount of material between processes
  • Belt conveyors require less horsepower to operate due to the static movement of the materials being carried on top of the belt [10]

References Edit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4
  4. 4.0 4.1
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 [[1]]
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2