The industrial manufacturing sector is a cut-throat business where time equals money. In a bid to maximize on time while keeping operations as smooth as possible, conveyor systems get installed.

There are different types of conveyor systems, and each system has a specific design. The design makes it suitable for use in a particular industry. How a system gets classified depends on how the support mechanics operate.

If you are a business owner looking to invest in a material handling conveyor, learn about how they work. This will enable you to make an informed choice of the most suitable conveyor for your business.

Want to learn about the different conveyors you can use in your business? You are in the right place, keep reading.

Common Types Of Conveyor Systems

A conveyor gets powered by gravity, manual effort or a motor. As for support mechanics, they can either use a belt, rollers or wheels.

If you are looking to invest in a material handling conveyor system, this is a basic guide on the different types of conveyors. We have explained each systemโ€™s design, how it works and the most suitable industry for its application.

Belt Conveyors

These types of conveyors use a looped belt between two pulleys on each end. A metallic sliding pan or a set of rollers gets added to the belting to reduce friction and drag. They get powered by motors with variable or constant gears to change the speed.

The thickness of the belt depends on the weight of the materials transported. A heavy load means a thicker belt is required while a light load translates to a thinner belt. As for the belting material; it can get made out of fabric, metal, rubber, leather or even plastic. See more on stainless steel conveyors.

These types of systems are the most common because they can haul just about any material. Hence, they are applicable in almost any industry.

Roller Conveyors

This type of conveyor system consists of rollers mounted on a frame horizontally. The main specifications of the system are the diameter and dimensions of the roller of the axleโ€™s center.

Depending on the industry they get applied in, they can get powered by motor, gravity or manual effort. In the case of gravity power, the frame gets tilted to one direction. Then the weight of the load rolls along the series of rollers in the tilt direction.

These conveyors get used in airport baggage, loading docks, and assembly lines. Depending on the available floor space and the system’s application the conveyor can get installed in an aligned or curved manner.

Powered Rollers

The rollers also get mounted on frames, but a motor, belts or chains power them. There often get utilized where the load is bulky or heavy.

You can find the system installed in metalworks, food processing, and packaging industries.

Chute or Trough Conveyors

These are material handling systems that transfer materials from one level to another. To do so, they use gravity for power. The specifications to consider for this system include the chute material and length and width of the chute.

Chute conveyors get used in mail and package handling industries.

Magnetic Conveyors

Due to the name, it is needless to say that they get used to handling magnetic materials such as metal.

These systems have magnets installed beneath a table, stationary plates or any other material that is not magnetic. They also get referred to as belt-less conveyors, but a conveyor belt can also get utilized in the place of a slider bed. If a belt gets used, an electromagnetic rail has to get installed under it.

The systems can get configured vertically or horizontally. Sometimes it is a combination of both depending on the handling requirements. Due to the magnetic properties of the system, it can work upside down and handle abrupt angle changes.

You can find these systems used as chip conveyors in the removal of chips in machining centers and scrap metal processing.

Overhead Conveyors

These systems get mounted on the ceiling because the handled material needs to get hung. The system consists of trolleys, carriers, or hooks attached to chains or cables. The strings and cables can get operated manually or automatically to move the system.

Depending on the application, the system can use electrical tracks, rails or rails ramps or trolleys. They can also get configured to function in an inclined manner. This type of system is common in dry cleaners, slaughterhouses, etc.

Vacuum or Pneumatic Conveyors

Vacuum or Pneumatic systems utilize vacuum or air pressure to move materials. They work by creating a vacuum in an enclosed tube or duct thus providing a high pressure sucking effect.

The system usually gets applies in industries to collect dust, handling papers, issue tickets, etc. It also gets used in other industrial processes such as material scrapping, food processing, and the delivery of chemicals.

Depending on the material getting conveyed, the pneumatic system can be metallic or no-metallic. Additionally, the conveyor systems specifications can get designed or configured to match the throughput requirements and load capacity.


These systems can also get referred to as spiral or worm conveyors because they use a helical screw movement to move the materials. The system identifies with a helical screw rotating within a shaft. The shaft or trough is usually encased to take full advantage of the rotational force.

Screw conveyors get classified into two main types namely centerless and bottom conveyors. The centerless version of the system lacks a central shaft and thus utilizes a hollow helix. For this reason, it is for mixing rather than transporting material. A bottom conveyor utilizes a series of screws in a trough. This version gets used for material transfer.

The screw system is standard with manufacturers working with materials such as grain, flakes, seeds, powder, etc. A centerless screw system can get used for mixing elements. It is also an excellent option for maintaining a blended solution.

Note: The above types of conveyors are just the most commonly used in most industries. If none of them applies to your business, it is best to conduct some research to see more examples. This will enable you to make an informed decision on the investment.

Summary on Material Handling Conveyors

Different conveyor systems get utilized for transferring various types of materials. Hence, some systems may not apply to all industries while some industries may need to combine more than one system.

When looking to invest in a conveyor, it is essential to understand how it works with your business as well as the space it will occupy. Additional factors to consider may include maintenance and costs.

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