Here is helpful information on many different conveyor types
Conveyor types, categories and uses
Industrial conveyors have many different designs and uses. Common types are belt, roller, motorized roller and overhead conveyors. We categorize them as floor style (mounted on the floor) or overhead. Use them to move products, create buffers and deliver products in sequence for a production line.
How are conveyors used?
Manufacturing engineers include conveyors in their production facilities for many reasons:
- Moving products from point A to B (to avoid wasted time walking, or to reduce movements of forklifts, etc)
- To carry products that are too heavy to for team members to lift
- To move a product while operators are working on it (or adding to it). Like a final assembly conveyor at an auto plant
- To avoid injury to workers from repetitive movement. Or to prevent damage to products caused by movement
- To deliver products to a robot for processing. Or to receive products from a robot that are ready for the next step
Storage and buffering uses
- To store products between processes or at the final process step
- To create a buffer or accumulation bank. This is a flexible storage system. Use it where the quantity of products in storage can be lower or higher as required to balance process flow
- To sequence or re-sequence products between processes. Power and free systems can provide this
Conveyors are one of the most flexible types of industrial equipment. When specified and installed they can improve productivity, efficiency and safety. Ultimation has solutions as affordable as a $50 gravity rollers, or as sophisticated as a $5M or more automated system. Conveyors are used to transport bulk material too, like gravel or iron ore.
How do you choose the right type of conveyor?
- We begin with the basic product information. It’s helpful for us to understand the productive role that your system will perform. Is it moving parts, storing them, re-sequencing them or providing a working surface while they move? Based on these factors we can then select from the various types available. Then see which ones can do the job and provide the best benefits.
- Next comes the constraints. Available space in production environments can be at a real premium. And although conveyors can add a lot of productivity, they can also get in the way of other operations. Carefully check the space they occupy. This gives us the input for our next decision point which is whether to use a floor level or overhead style.
Floor or Overhead?
- Conveyors are categorized as floor style or overhead style as this is an important decision point. Overhead styles can take many different forms (see this graphic here on the different types). But they all share the benefit that the system itself is mounted above the part it is moving. Therefore they use production space that is not occupied with other equipment. This can enable the overhead plant space to become productive, like using it for a buffer or storage bank. If more space is available, floor style systems may be more suitable. These include belt conveyors, gravity roller, skatewheel and slat conveyors.
- Consider how you want to load and unload the parts. Some processes need precise positioning of the part (like for robot loading or unloading). Systems equipped with tooling, pallets or carriers can accommodate this. A simple belt or roller conveyor by itself cannot maintain the part in a precise location.
- The speed required and investment available can drive the choices. Simpler, faster and more affordable systems are great. Other solutions need more sophisticated automated conveyor lines.
The best run facilities will likely have some floor style conveyors as well as overhead conveyors. Overhead conveyors and motorized roller conveyors are also often used together with warehouse robots or Autonomous Mobile Robots. Warehouse robots can pick up and drop off loads from your existing conveyors and provide a flexible way to link all your conveyor styles together for maximum productivity and space utilization. Learn more about warehouse robots from Ultimation here.
The material below has a short summary of each one of the more common conveyor types that are available.
Sometime our customers call these “Conveyor belts”. This is actually the belting material. A belt system is one of the simplest conveyor types. It moves parts from one end to the other. Speed can be variable with a variable speed drive. Don’t use belt systems as a working surface. They also can’t be used to present parts to a robot, or buffer or sequence parts. But their simplicity makes them one of the most common conveyor types available.
They belong to the floor mounted category. Belt conveyors typically move the belt across a supporting steel plate so that as the belt moves it slides. This style is a slider bed style. Or the belt can be supported on top of closely spaced rollers. These conveyor belt types are called a roller belt style or roller conveyor belt. Learn more about them here. Ready to buy? Here’s the range available for online purchase.
Gravity Roller Conveyor
Also one of the simplest types, they are very affordable. A series of rollers mounted on a side frame provides the rolling surface. When mounted on a decline angle, parts move by themselves. However if using gravity conveyors for parts of different size and weight it can be more difficult. you will need to control the speed and angle. Parts running into each other may cause damage. But compared with carrying parts from point A to point B, a gravity roller table is often a great starting point. It is a very simple productivity improvement. Learn more about them here. Ready to buy? Here’s the range available for online purchase.