What Is a Manual Conveyor?

Dan Cavallari

A manual conveyor is a system often used in industrial settings or factories that allow large, bulky items to be transported across a space easily. These systems are unpowered, which means they do not feature drive engines that propel the individual cylinders on which the items will slide; instead, the items must be pushed or otherwise propelled by hand or gravity. The manual conveyor is useful in shipping facilities or other facilities that require items to be sorted or transported for shipping. Some manual systems are even portable so they can be set up in various locations for a variety of purposes.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

The design of the manual conveyor can vary, though the most basic versions typically feature a frame with parallel tracks that run from one end of the system to the other. Several cylinders, usually made from steel or aluminum, are set perpendicular to the tracks, and these cylinders will rotate around an axle that is mounted to the parallel tracks. When an object such as a box or large barrel is placed on the rollers, it can be pushed along the track by hand, and the cylinders will allow the item to move rapidly along the track. In some cases, one end of the manual conveyor will be set at a higher level than the other end, which means items can be given a slight push and they will be pulled along the track by gravity.

These systems are very useful in smaller factories or warehouses, though larger spaces will probably require a powered system that will allow goods to be transported over longer distances. The manual conveyor may also be inappropriate for smaller items or finer materials, as such items can get caught between the cylinders and cause damage to the goods or to the conveyor system. For smaller items, a belt conveyor is usually preferable; the belt wraps around the cylinders, preventing items from falling in between. A screw or auger conveyor can also be used for some smaller materials or items.

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Not all manual conveyor systems run in a straight line. Some models can run around corners, and some may feature intersections that automatically sort boxes or items by size. These systems may require specially designed cylinders or frames to allow for the various changes in direction, and metal plates may be used at corners instead of cylinders. These plates will allow the items to slide, but not as smoothly as the cylinder will.

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