When the Industrial Revolution turned America into the production capital of the world, it did so through a few inventions that may seem simplistic by today’s standards. At the turn of the 20th century, new forms of energy were being optimized, inventions were improving workers’ productivity and output, and the application of science was turning the industry on its head. Among the most lasting machine inventions that still holds relevance and importance today, is the conveyor belt system.
Today’s conveyor belt systems are a massively key component to operations in airports, distribution centers, factories, accessibility walkways, grocery stores, ski hills, and any building you can think of that utilizes escalators. This seemingly simple engineering tool that kids experiment with in science class during elementary school has maintained its permanence and reliability across industries, while also evolving its relevance with the times through efficiency, power, and technology coordination.
What is a conveyor belt?
While there are a multitude of conveyor belt types and services they can complete, the core of any system is the conveyor belt itself. At its baseline, the belt is the carrying method of any system. Each conveyor system requires different modules, different belt type conveyors, and different tools to properly function and to the tasks required by the industry.
Depending on the requirements of weight, speed, and throughput of products on the conveyor system, the specific tasks can vary across a wide range.
How does a conveyor system work?
The mechanics of a conveyor system are pretty straightforward: Two or more pulleys with an endless loop of carrying medium (the conveyor belt) create the system. It rotates around the pulleys creating a pull effect for the goods it’s carrying. One or more of the pulleys will be powered moving the belt and the goods on the belt forward along the system.
How is a conveyor belt made?
Conveyor belt manufacturers make belts that consist of one or more layers of material. Three layers are the standard: a top cover, a carcass, and a bottom cover. The carcass is to provide linear strength and shape, and is often a woven or metal fabric that is flexible and has resistance. The most common carcass materials are steel, polyester, nylon, cotton, and aramid (heat-resistance and strong synthetic fibers). The covers are usually various rubber or plastic compounds.
Steel conveyor belts are used for heavy goods that require high strength and increased durability. Steel conveyor belts are made of steel cords – whereas lower class strength conveyor belts use polyester, nylon, and cotton. The advantages of using the lower strength material is it will reduce the amount of operational energy needed and increase the product life. Rubber conveyor belts have great uses as well.
What is a conveyor used for?
There are plenty of results that conveyor belt systems achieve. Dependent of course on the belt conveyor design and the goals the company is aiming for, a conveyor system can cover a lot of ground.
Perhaps the most difficult but most sought after objective most have is increasing production. With the use of conveyor belts in horticulture, for instance, it could be possible for planters to use every available square metre. Or a walkable conveyor belt would mean you do not have to free up space for a walkway, ergo creating more metres for planting. Conveyor belts provide freedom to move cultivation sections separately, ensuring that bays remain completely filled.
Additionally, conveyor belts can shore up labor savings, as well as improve employee ergonomics. If efficiency in operations is a goal for the company, conveyor belts can ensure faster and better supply throughout the sorting and delivery process. The throughput time of the total process decreases by a quick uniform filling with these processes – resulting in higher efficiency. Higher efficiency means more productivity, consistency, and profit. Those are the three tenets of business success.
Benefits of using the conveyor system
The largest benefit of utilizing conveyor belt systems is the certainty and reliability it proves for you and your customers. They promise to control and high quality is all processes that are happening. We’ve put together a quick list here:
- Conveyors free up space in plant productions. This can create opportunities for new lines or implementing new industrial processes.
- They support cleaner, more sanitary stations as materials are transported on the conveyor belt system. Considering the importance of controlled sanitation in today’s uncertain world, this is a major benefit. This can additionally be purposefully maintained by choosing certain conveyor belt material.
- Product management standardization. Conveyor systems allow for company checks and balances in operations, staff training, and creating a standard by which to hold all products and processes to per order fulfillment.
- Modularity and scalability. When systems are implemented, business owners can readjust specific parts of the solution as the business grows without changing or eliminating the full installed system.
- Increased organization of production as production lines stay in order.
- Increased security in operations.
- Increased company productivity.
- Increased improvement of each process’s quality.
Industries relying on the use of conveyor belts
While conveyors are extremely popular within distribution and warehouse spaces and in the manufacturing and production industries, conveyors really can be used across various industries. Due to the adaptive nature of conveyor systems, they are able to be utilized by the variation of weight, length, and items they care for most industries.
Some of the more high profile places conveyor belt systems have been installed and implemented are places like the Hermes national sorting hub. They have seen massive success in installing an automated conveyor system in their hub due to the increased level of courier return capacity by 50%.
While we tend to think large automated production lines when we think of conveyor systems, surprising optimization of conveyor belt systems has occurred in a myriad of sushi restaurants. This type of conveyor uses rubber material to convey irregular items with small surface areas that stop the goods or plates that might fall between sections.
Still, you’ll find some cases where there are extremely long conveyor belts installed to transport items and goods. The Dubai International Airport for instance boasts the longest conveyor system in the world for their baggage handling system which is a mixture of different conveyor belts and features that create a baggage handling system that stretches 39 miles.
Conveyor systems can be used for a multitude of industries due to the labor cost-saving. By increasing throughput on a section of the production or transportation process, any industry can get more products manufactured or sorted and sent out to clients in a more efficient and rapid manner.
How is conveyor belt speed measured?
There are quite a few calculations needed to accurately determine a belt’s speed. These calculations do need to be made in detail to determine products and capabilities, however.
Multiply the RPM by the circumference of the roller – this provides the number for the linear distance traversed by a pound on the conveyor belt in one minute. Then calculate the distance traveled for one hour.
Revolutions per minute – or RPM – is an internationally accepted expression of rotational velocity. It refers to the number of revolutions a rotating object makes on its own axis in one minute. Determining RPM is relevant for virtually every rotating entity known to man.
RPM is used with many key parameters such as diameter, mass, and torque in fixed engineering formulas to calculate horsepower, linear velocity, gear ratios, and tangential velocity. Conversely, a number of measurements can be made in any given system to calculate RPM. Since there is no one single formula, several methods exist to dictate a client’s needs.
How safe is a Conveyor Belt System?
Any type of conveyor system can carry some safety risks if not properly used or maintained. The safety guidelines and rules can be clearly communicated at installation and by looking up the conveyor hs code to see the details of the product.
Within industrial settings, conveyors often include tripping mechanisms, like trip cords with safety start-stop buttons that operators can shut down with immediacy should an emergency begin. Other safeguards can be installed into each unique system like belt switches, speed switches, emergency stops, and a belt rip switch.
These safeguards are implemented to minimizes risks to operators and allow for shutdown should the production be compromised.
It all depends on where the conveyor system is used when users can decide what health and safety measures should be taken specifically. The options for specializing in your industry needs are high here.
Rolling it Ahead
It’s clear by now the efficiency, productivity, consistency, and specializing that conveyor belt systems can offer you company is vast. If a system is right for your company, Conveyor Concepts is happy to meet you and find the best solution to optimize your operations.