Conveyor Belt Basics: A Comprehensive Guide to Material Transport

Conveyors help transport materials from point to point and are practical in industrial applications. They aren’t a one-fits-all type of system since they come in different kinds, and belts are among the most sought-after due to their ease of maintenance and effortless applicability.

Conveyor belts have been the mainstay in industrial conveyance applications since the 18th century and are now as significant as ever. They present an effortless way of moving materials in mining, food processing, agriculture, and logistics, doing most of the heavy lifting. 

Understanding the conveyor belt basics makes their application more straightforward to suit your tasks’ needs, whether small or large scale.

This guide examines the basics of conveyor belts, including their components and how they work. Please read on to learn more.

What are Conveyor Belts?

Conveyor belts are mechanical devices used within a facility and help move materials from one point to another. 

Powerful motors drive conveyor belts and form a continuous moving loop, allowing operators to achieve higher efficiency and productivity. These belts are usually flexible and stretch between rollers, allowing them to bend and turn effortlessly.

Conveyor belts are available in different types and designs, and each suits various facility applications. 

Configuring a conveyor belt’s structure and settings is prudent to ensure it adequately suits every company’s needs. Like every component in manufacturing, conveyor belts have a fair share of advantages and disadvantages every facility manager should be aware of.

The Basic Conveyor Belt System’s Components

Conveyor belt systems comprise an assemblage of different components that work together to enable the transportation of materials. 

From the conveyor belt itself to the head pulley, here are the notable conveyor belt system parts you should know.

1. Conveyor Belt

The conveyor belt is the primary component in the system and can consist of different materials. The runner is the most typically used material, but polyurethane, nylon, and metal make the cut. 

Conveyor belts can take cleat forms or be corrugated to increase the surface roughness and come in a conveyor frame enclosure.

2. Idler Rollers

This component prevents the conveyor belt’s sagging and, possibly, blockages that could damage the entire system. Positioned right above the moving conveyor belt, idler rollers clean up the material leftovers (carryback) and help align the belt to stay on track. Idlers come in different types that suit tailored functions and include troughing, rubber disks, screws, and trainer idlers.

3. Gear Reducer 

Conveyor belts run at different speeds and torque at every given moment. They also transmit rotary power from the motor to move conveyor belts, facilitating material movement. A coupling or shaft and a chain system connect the gear reducer to the motor, allowing for speed and torque variations.

4. Head Pulley

This component hangs at a conveyor system’s farthest end and primarily improves the belt’s tension, ensuring it’s taut. That’s essential in guaranteeing high conveyor belt efficiencies and productivity.

Tips for Picking the Most Suitable Conveyor Belt

A company’s facility must understand its material conveyance needs and the scale of its operation when picking the right conveyor belt. 

Here are essential tips and tricks for selecting the most practical conveyor belt system for maximum productivity and efficiency.

1. Consider the Application 

While conveyor belts may help transport materials within a facility, their applications vary. It’s best to assess the size of the materials you’re transporting and the distance you’re hauling them to. Moreover, ensure that you’re conversant with the conveyor belt speeds to determine the suitability of your go-to conveyor belt.

There’s more that every application may demand, and temperature, moisture, and substance corrosiveness can be among the factors to consider. Every conveyor belt system handles operations differently, and the better you understand the application, the easier it can be to get the best out of your conveyor belt.

2. Choose an Ideal Belt Material 

Rubber is the most commonly used belt material due to its suitable properties, including excellent grip and traction, abrasion resistance, and flexibility. Besides, it effortlessly absorbs shock and has high temperature and chemical resistance capabilities. However, it may not be the go-to option for some operations.

Using rubber conveyor belts in heavy-duty applications can be impossible because high-capacity loads can rupture or tear them. Besides, applications that require moving highly corrosive materials or using them in overly high-temperature environments could lead to some inconveniences. Instead, other materials, including nylon or metal, can be ideal substitutes.

3. Determine the Belt’s Load Capacity

Load capacity is the maximum material weight your conveyor belt can handle. Some belts are suitable for heavy lifting while others manage less weight, and flipping these roles could lead to damage.

Several factors determine conveyor belts’ load capacity, including belt speed, width, and material. Besides, the belts’ troughing angle, length, tension, and conveyor incline play a significant part. If possible, please assess these metrics before picking your conveyor belt.

4. Assess the Maintenance Requirements 

Conveyor belts require proper maintenance to keep their efficiency high and last longer. Besides, well-looked-after conveyor belt systems can be safer and may save on costly repairs.

Your go-to conveyor belt should, therefore, be easy to look after. That includes the ease of cleaning, belt replacement, and other ongoing upkeep operations such as lubrication, inspection, and alignment. 

Some conveyor belt systems can be challenging to maintain due to inaccessible parts or material incompatibility; others are easy to work with, so picking one without much hassle can be prudent.

Bottom Line

Conveyor belt systems have helped improve facility operations in different application areas, including logistics, food processing, and mining. Comprehensively understanding these systems can help you pick the most suitable conveyor belt that suits your operational needs. 

Different belt materials, components, and operating conditions play a role when choosing your conveyor belt system. As always, an expert’s help can be handy in helping you make the most practical pick.

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