Power Conveyor


There are two basic groups of conveyors: those that rely on gravity to move product and conveyors having a power source. Powered conveyors use some manner of power source to move products along the conveyor line. The most common power source is an electric motor.

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Power Conveyor Sub-types

The most common types of power conveyors are similar to those used in gravity conveying applications. These are belt and roller conveyors.

Powered Belt Conveyors

The powered belt conveyor has many uses.

One can find this type of conveyor material handling situations that include:

  • Retail
  • Warehouse and distribution center
  • Airport baggage areas
  • Bulk material settings (everything from fruits and vegetables to recyclables)
  • Mining operations

It is a low cost method of moving material longer distances.

A typical belt conveyor has supports on which the belt rides. The two main supports are rollers or a smooth metal surface. An electric motor and pulley systems provide the energy to move the belt. Most power belt conveyors work best moving lightweight objects such as packages. However, the belt conveyor also does well in moving non-uniform and odd shaped items. This includes moving items on inclines as the belts can hold items in place. These conveyors serve as components for larger conveyor systems, but also work as independent units, too.

Belt conveyors perform well in a variety of conditions. However, the conveyor does have drawbacks. Belts require regular maintenance as these degrade and eventually need replacement. Sticky items on the belt have the potential to cause problems. Finally, debris and loose particles can get under the belt creating other problems with performance. It is important to keep the belt and related surfaces clean.

Powered Roller Conveyors

There are several types of powered roller conveyors. Each tends to focus on the accumulation or buildup of products for sending products through a sorter or some other piece of material handling equipment.

Discussing power roller conveyors is more a discussion on what propels it than the rollers. There are differences in the rollers, mind you, but the means of movement gives the conveyor its unique characteristics. The three main drivers for power roller conveyors are belt-driven, chain-driven and a lineshaft.

Rollers on a belt-driven conveyor rest on a belt, causing the rollers to spin and move product down the line. The contact between the belt and rollers has enough friction to turn the rollers but not enough for moving products up or down inclines.

Lightweight items and those of varying shapes travel well on this type of conveyor. Belt-driven conveyors often work as part of a larger conveyor system, but also have use as single conveyor for small operations.

The lineshaft conveyor is a quieter and low cost roller conveyor option. This type of roller conveyor has a driveshaft that extends the length of the entire conveyor line. It is unique in that the lineshaft allows the conveyor to run in both directions (forward and reverse). A series of o-rings connect the shaft to the rollers. This type of roller conveyor has a very low first cost and is among the quietest conveyor products. The downside of the conveyor is the need for frequent replacement parts, which in turn translate into higher maintenance cost.

Chain-driven conveyors are the powered roller conveyor of choice for industries with heavier loads. The chain connects with sprockets on the rollers to propel products down the conveyor line. Users of this conveyor transport heavier items such as pallet loads and barrels. It also works in hot and cold environments and resists grease and other particulates that cause problems for other conveyors. The major challenge of the chain-driven roller conveyors are high maintenance costs, including lubrication and keeping tension in the chain.

Other power roller conveyors exist and include the motorized roller. These conveyors use an internal motor in at least one of the rollers to turn the rollers in a section or zone of the conveyor. These conveyors always work as part of a larger conveyor system for applications such as powered curves, zero pressure accumulation and having limited space. These conveyor units are quiet; however do not serve as standalone systems.

Which power conveyor system is best for your application? Find out by contacting one of our conveyor professionals. Contact us today!

Power Conveyor – The Rundown

  • Used as a standalone or as part of larger conveyor system
  • Belt conveyors work best in clean settings; used in a wide variety of applications
  • Chain-driven used for heavier loads
  • Lineshaft roller conveyors had lower first cost
  • Debris and sticky items can cause downtime
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