Conveyors and conveyor systems are mechanical equipment that is responsible for transporting materials from one location to another. They provide quick and easy transportation and are particularly useful in moving heavy materials. There are many different types of conveyors depending on the needs of the industry in which they are used.
The conveyor industry began around 1900 in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area when a group of men were unloading wood shingles from rail cars. Part of the group relocated to Ellwood City, Pennsylvania, and started the Mathews Gravity Conveyor Company with Rufus P. Mathews as president. The rest stayed behind and started the Standard Conveyor Company. Both original companies focused on the package conveyor business and material handling engineering.
Gravity conveyors move materials using gravity. In other words, they can move boxes up, down and horizontal on a moving belt using gravity. Gravity allows the conveyor to move certain types of packages, using their own weight on a bed of wheels or rollers.
Gravity conveyors can move anything from light bulbs to bagged cement and can carry materials from 2 feet to 100 feet. The two primary variations of the gravity conveyor are the roller and the wheel conveyor. Roller conveyors are not recommended for soft bottom materials, such as coffee bean bags, and wheel conveyors should be used instead.
Belt conveyors are used for more controlled movement of materials. They are powered and can be used to move regular and irregular shaped products. They have a wide range of capabilities and can transport light, heavy, fragile packages on an incline, a decline and horizontal surfaces.
Powered belt conveyors typically have two types of beds. A slider bed utilizes a smooth surface bed, often steel, and a roller bed utilizes rollers as the surface supporters of the belt. Horizontal belt conveyors are flat with either one or two pulleys and the bed section is either slider or roller. Incline and decline conveyors are similar to the horizontal except that they are an angle. The brake belt conveyor is used as a stop at the end of the roller conveyor and a meter belt conveyor is used as the speed up belt. Metal Piano Hinge conveyor has a steel belt ideal for carrying hot and oily machinery. The wire mesh belt conveyor allows for free flow of air and is primarily used for transporting materials too cold or too hot for standard conveyors. Finally, a portable conveyor is one that can be rolled from one position to another on caster wheels.