Exploring the Versatility of Conveyor Systems in Material Movement

Conveyor systems are one of the most popular and practical material handling solutions with their ability to effortlessly move products over long distances through just about any type of environment. From mining to factories, conveyors are as versatile as they are effective – and some of the key benefits such systems offer include improved productivity, safety, a reduction in errors and the ability of such systems to be customized to meet any unique applications.

In this post, we’ll cover everything you need to know about conveyors as it pertains to effective material movement – from their versatility to how to select the right system that suits your operation’s requirements. Read on to learn more or contact A-Lined today.

Common Types of Conveyor Systems

Contrary to what you might think, there’s more than one type of conveyor system. In this section, we’ll provide an overview of some of the most popular types of conveyors and which one might suit your environment best. Here’s a look:

Belt Conveyors

Perhaps the most popular type of conveyor, as the name implies, belt conveyors move products on a belt. They’re as popular as they are simple, and speeds vary based on the drive. These types of conveyors are typically floor-mounted, with the belt mounted on top of rollers that allow products to be moved safely and securely. Conveyor belts are most common in warehouses and distribution centers.

Roller Conveyor

Rather than move products from Point A to Point B on a belt, roller conveyors do this using nothing but cylindrical rollers. These types of conveyor systems are often best utilized in warehousing and distribution environments to move boxes and other supplies. Most rollers are less than 2 inches in diameter, though heavy-duty rollers may have diameters up to 3.5 inches. One popular type of roller conveyor is a gravity roller conveyor, which uses the force of gravity to move product loads along the line.

Chain Conveyors

Chain conveyors are another popular type of floor-mounted conveyor system, especially notable for moving items with an uneven lower surface. Rather than move products on a belt, products are set on chains, which then rotate to move products down the line. Chain conveyors are typically used for moving heavy-duty products, like pallets and large industrial containers. They’re often utilized in manufacturing plants and industrial environments.

Overhead Conveyors

Overhead conveyors, or monorails, are ideal conveyor systems when space is at a premium on the warehouse floor. Such conveyors come in different styles, but among the most popular is a trolley-like system, where the trolleys are connected together via a chain. Parts can then be suspended from these trolleys as they travel the track over the warehouse floor. Overhead conveyors don’t just free up floor space, but they can utilize vertical space that often goes unused in such environments. Overhead conveyors are often used anywhere from manufacturing to distribution environments.

Slat Conveyors

Slat conveyors are particularly useful for handling heavy items and bulk materials in various settings. They consist of slats attached to a chain, which allows for the transportation of items that might be too bulky or heavy for other types of conveyor systems. They’re commonly found in industrial and manufacturing environments where the movement of heavy loads is frequent.

Benefits of Using Conveyor Systems

The use of conveyors for material movement isn’t by accident – it’s because they offer plenty of productivity, safety and efficiency benefits. Here’s an overview of some of the benefits of incorporating conveyor systems into your industrial environment:

  • Increased productivity: Conveyors help streamline processes and efficiency on the factory floor, while reducing time and labor needs.
  • Reduced manual labor: Conveyors can help reduce the amount of manual labor that workers have to do, reducing the risk of injury and improving safety. 
  • Cost efficiency: Conveyors help reduce labor costs and improve safety. They’re also solutions that are easy to maintain and have a high return on investment.

Innovations in Conveyor Technology

Conveyors may seem like simple solutions – and on the surface, they are. But over time, they’ve advanced as technology has improved. Conveyors today are smarter than ever thanks to their ability to integrate into the Internet of Things and promote a more connected factory environment. Conveyors can also be used in association with robotics and advanced automation to further drive process improvement in the workplace. Another innovation is the continued flexibility and versatility of conveyor systems. Such systems can be customized and easily adapted to best suit the environment they’re operating in.

Industry-Specific Applications

From mining and heavy-duty industrial applications to warehouse distribution, conveyors make sense in a wide range of industries and a variety of environments. Some of the most popular industry-specific applications include:

  • Manufacturing: Conveyors can move parts and products along assembly lines and to equipment in a production facility.
  • Logistics and warehousing: Conveyors can help move boxes of products and get items out the door faster.
  • Mining: Heavy-duty conveyors can bring up products that are mined in quarries to the surface for further processing.
  • Food and beverage: Conveyors can help offer hygienic and precision processing of food and beverage products.

Choosing the Right Conveyor System for Your Needs

So how do you select the right conveyor for your environment and your specific needs? There are various factors to consider, including:

  • Load requirements and the type of product you’ll be moving.
  • Whether the conveyor is to be installed on the floor or supported from the ceiling.
  • Product rate or desired production rate.
  • Conveyor construction requirements.
  • Characteristics of the environment the conveyor will be installed in (i.e., temperature, moisture content, etc.)

Still not sure what type of conveyor would best suit your environment after conducting an in-depth study? Consider working with a material handling solutions provider for help. The right provider can serve as a key resource and ensure that you get the right conveyor system for your specific environment that meets your specific expectations.

Future Trends in Conveyor Systems

The future of conveyor systems is following a similar trajectory to the future of a lot of industrial equipment – that being the potential for further integration of automated solutions and robotics. Such solutions can help usher in a new era of factory automation and further the advancement of the smart, connected industrial environment. In turn, this can help yield even greater productivity gains and competitive advantages for those who embrace it.

Contact Us Today

Though they may seem simple, conveyors are more advanced today than they’ve ever been – and they’re only likely to become more advanced and versatile in the future. For more information on how the right conveyor system can help take your operations to the next level, contact A-Lined today. As material handling experts, we’ll work with you to ensure you have the right conveyor system installed under your roof. Contact us today for more information.