What Is a Horizontal Conveyor?

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari
Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

A horizontal conveyor is a mechanical system used to transport items or materials from one location to another along a belt or series of rollers. The conveyor system is oriented horizontally to move items across a space, rather than up an incline or vertically. The horizontal conveyor is commonly used in industrial settings such as warehouses, factories, construction sites, quarries, and mines. The specific design of the system can vary significantly according to its intended purpose, and the size of the unit can vary significantly as well.

Two general types of horizontal conveyor systems exist: powered units and unpowered units. Powered units can feature electric motors or gas-powered motors that turn pulleys, thereby turning the belt. This system is suitable for heavier-duty operations or high volume jobs. Unpowered horizontal conveyor systems usually feature a series of cylinders or rollers that are mounted in succession within the conveyor frame. Items can be pushed along the cylinders, which turn easily to facilitate easy movement along the track. Sometimes these unpowered conveyors feature retarders, which are gaps in the cylinders where metal plates are installed to slow the progress of an item being transported. This prevents an item from gaining speed and leaving the track, or colliding with other items on the track.

Sometimes a horizontal conveyor will feature high walls that prevent materials from spilling off the conveyor belt. This helps avoid material loss, though adding such walls can restrict larger objects from being transported through the system. Exceptionally fine materials such as sand or various types of grains may not transport well on a belt system, so a horizontal auger conveyor may be used. This system uses a large screw known as an auger contained within a sealed frame to transport materials. As the auger turns, the fine particulate matter is transported in one direction or the other, depending on the auger's turning direction. Larger items cannot be transported effectively this way, as they will often jam the auger.

Some horizontal conveyor systems feature a hydraulic lift that allows a user to adjust the conveyor up or down. The user can raise one end of the conveyor, which allows materials to be loaded at the low end and lifted to the high end. Sometimes the conveyor belt will feature cleats, which are upright dividers situated perpendicularly to the belt itself; this prevents materials from sliding backward as they are lifted up the belt.

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