What Are Conveyor Lines?

Dan Cavallari

Conveyor lines are systems that are designed to move items or materials from one point in a set location to another. Along the way, workers may stand on either side of the system to assemble products, sort through materials, inspect the items as they pass, or perform other tasks that relate specifically to that industry or manufacturer. The specific design of conveyor lines can vary significantly according to the needs of the business; some systems are powered by motors that turn a belt, while others are unpowered and feature cylinders or bearings on which items can be pushed or gravity-fed down a line.

Conveyor lines carry components from one area of an assembly line to another.
Conveyor lines carry components from one area of an assembly line to another.

One of the most common types of conveyor lines is the assembly line. This system usually requires several workers to man various stations along the line, each worker performing a specific task to assemble a particular product. Inspectors will also supervise the line to ensure the work done by workers is done correctly and safely. Manufacturers have increasingly started using machines to perform assembly line tasks, and some conveyor lines can be fully automated without the need for humans at the line at all. The machines can be programmed to complete the same task over and over again within the same tolerances.

Conveyor lines move materials or products from one set place to another.
Conveyor lines move materials or products from one set place to another.

Other conveyor lines may be meant for sorting, food processing, or simply for transporting. Shipping facilities will often use unpowered gravity conveyor lines to move packages from one end of the facility to the other. This allows packages to be taken in, sorted for particular destinations, and loaded onto the appropriate trucks. In this case, the conveyor itself will usually be a gravity conveyor, which means one end of the conveyor will be set higher than the other so packages will move along the line by the force of gravity. Rollers with bearings inside will facilitate this movement.

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Belt conveyors feature a rubber or wire mesh belt wound around a series of powered pulleys. As the pulleys turn, the belt will move in one direction or the other. Wire mesh belts are common in food processing industries because the belt can be exposed to heat from ovens or other heating elements, and the wire mesh can be cleaned fairly easily. Plastic belts are also available for easy cleaning, though plastic belts usually cannot be exposed to high temperatures. Rubber belts are also available, but again, they cannot be exposed to high temperatures. They will be the least expensive option, however.

One of the most common types of conveyor lines is the assembly line.
One of the most common types of conveyor lines is the assembly line.

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