A flat belt conveyor is a system commonly used in industrial settings to move objects or materials from one set point in a space to another. The system uses a flat belt that can be made from rubber, metal, or even plastic, depending on the intended application of the system. A flat belt conveyor differs from other conveyor systems in various ways: a cleated incline conveyor, for example, features a flat belt with vertical cleats spaced along the belt's length. An auger conveyor, also known as a screw conveyor, features a long screw encased within a frame to move fine particulate matter.
The belt on a flat belt conveyor system will be driven by one or more pulleys around which the belt will be wrapped. The drive pulleys are usually mounted at the end or ends of the system, though they may also be mounted at various locations along the length of the flat belt conveyor system. More pulleys will be mounted along the length as well, and these non-powered pulleys are designed to increase stability and ensure the proper alignment and tension of the belt itself. The pulleys are usually made from metals such as steel or aluminum, and they feature bearings to ensure they move smoothly during operation.
Rubber belts on a flat belt conveyor are quite common, though they are not used exclusively on all systems. Rubber belts need to be tensioned often, and they can wear out fairly quickly, especially when misaligned or exposed to heat. Wire mesh belts are often used instead of rubber belts on systems that will feature a heating element such as an oven. Wire mesh belts are therefore commonly used in food processing settings in which ovens are used to heat or otherwise cook food.
The design of a flat belt conveyor can vary according to a particular company's needs. Some belt conveyor systems are straight and remain horizontal throughout the length of the system, while others may travel on an incline and may turn corners. Some flat belt conveyor systems are even combined with gravity conveyors, which are systems without belts that feature a series of tightly spaced cylinders on which items can be propelled using the natural force of gravity. If two belt conveyors meet, the ends of each conveyor system will feature specially designed transfers that ensure items flow smoothly from one system to the other without getting caught in the transition.