What is a chain conveyor?

Chain conveyor systems are rugged, durable conveyors used to transport products along a production line. They are suited to many items that wouldn’t typically convey on a roller conveyor. Therefore, typical uses are to move pallets, racks, industrial containers and any products with a sturdy lower surface. They are used in numerous industrial and commercial environments, including warehouses, automotive plants and distribution centers.


A chain conveyor is powered by a continuous chain and they are primarily utilized to transport heavy loads. Our chain conveyor systems are typically a double strand configuration with the load positioned on the chains, however multiple strand configurations are available.

Because chain conveyors are generally very easy to install they usually require minimal maintenance, and integrates easily in systems with CDLR and transfers. Sometimes they are referred to as a pallet conveyor due to their wide use in transporting wood or steel pallets. In addition, multiple chain options allow for flexibility in applications as well as environments.

Ultimation is one of the leading chain conveyor manufacturers and can design and engineer custom conveyors, as well as providing fast-ship “off the shelf” chains conveyor designs.

What are good uses of a chain conveyor?

  • Transporting heavy products from one location to another. Chain conveyors are very simple and exceptionally durable
  • Moving product through high temperature zones, for instance through ovens where other conveyor types may not be suitable
  • Conveying of products in either continuous or indexing modes (i.e. the chain stops and starts each time to move a product to the end of the chain using a sensor)
  • Conveyors where changing the speed is necessary. Importantly when fitted with a VFD (variable frequency drive), a chain driven system is a simple conveyor to adjust the speed on

Don’t use them if you need:

  • Accumulating products (i.e. for a buffer). Chain conveyors generally don’t allow the products to nest up against each other (“accumulate”) without them pushing product off the chain or sideways across the chain. If you need accumulation, use a roller conveyor or power and free overhead conveyor
  • Products that won’t slide or roll off the chain. Chain conveyors require the part to ride on the chain without sliding. If you need the parts to be held while on the conveyor, consider a slat conveyor which can be fitted with tooling to hold the product in place as the conveyor moves along. Some chain conveyors can be fitted with pins to hold skids or other part location devices
  • To use the conveyor as a working surface. Chain conveyors are typically made for transport, not for production operations on them. Use a slat conveyor or roller conveyor. If using a chain conveyor as a working surface, special safety considerations need to be addressed as the chain can be dangerous
  • Moving products up or down inclines. Because the products may slide easily on the chains they can be dangerous if used on inclines or declines
  • In addition, they cannot carry a product around curves. Use a 90 degree transfer to move products from one chain conveyor line to another
  • Above all, products with soft or uneven surfaces on the bottom are not suited for chain conveyors

Technical Specifications:

Importantly, depending upon the product weight and the product being conveyed, different chain types and tracks are available as well as custom configurations. Capacities typically range from 500 lbs. up to 80,000 lbs for the two strand chain conveyor.

  • Heavy duty welded construction with structural tube chain rails
  • UHMW Polyethylene chain tracks provide wear resistance, quiet operation and power reduction
  • Steel chain tracks for increase loads
  • Padded transfer chains with non-marring pads for glass or painted parts
  • Center-mounted drive allows for chain travel to be reversed
  • Built to order – modifications easily made

Track used for chain guides:

For lighter loads, UHMW Polyethylene track is used with chain sizes C50, C60 and C80 (up to 3000 lbs.). This provides wear resistance, quiet operation and reduces power requirements. Special hardened alloy steel track is used on C80 (3000 lbs. and up), C100 and RC120 chain conveyor sizes for increased load carrying capacity and long life. For more information on the types of chain used on chain conveyor systems, follow this link.

Conveyor Chain
“C” series, straight side-bar chain on sizes C50 through C100 is used. This flat plate chain reduces product damage and wear compared to traditional roller chain.

Padded Chain
Transfer chain with non-marring pads assembled to the chain. Glass or painted parts are just some of the products that can be conveyed on this chain.

Polyurethane v-belts or flat belts are available for non-marring chain belt conveyor applications.

Center-mounted drive allows chain travel to be reversed. Drive and pinch points are guarded.

Need more information? As one of the leading chain conveyor manufacturers our team are happy to receive your inquiry.

Need help learning about other conveyor types, which types to use and how to specify them? This step by step guide will help.


Our online store is open 24/7. We have 1,000’s of conveyors and parts available at discount prices for fast shipping. Order by 3pm Eastern Time for same day shipping.


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