A modular belt conveyor is a system used in warehouses, factories, and shipping facilities to move items or materials from one point to another within a space. The modular part of this system is in the belt: instead of using a wire mesh belt or rubber belt made of only one piece, the plastic belt on the modular belt conveyor is made from small, individual pieces that interlock with each other and mount on connecting rods. This design allows a user to replace damaged parts without removing the entire belt.
The advantages of a modular belt conveyor over other systems is in the durability and adjustability of the belt. While other systems rely on a continuous belt that may need to be replaced after weeks or months, the modular belt conveyor will feature a belt that can stay on the system for years without full replacement. Individual modules on the belt can be replaced if necessary when they are damaged, but the entire belt will not need replacing until the belt is worn enough that it cannot work efficiently on the system anymore. Modular systems usually run along a track, which means aligning the belt is much easier than aligning a rubber belt or, in some cases, a wire mesh belt.
The drawback to the modular belt conveyor system is the amount of time necessary to construct the belt or replace individual parts, as well as the plastic's tendency to crack under heavy weight. The cracking issue is generally counteracted by using high-quality plastics and allowing for easy replacement of damaged parts. If one of the parts is misaligned or damaged, however, it will be necessary for a worker to figure out where the damaged part is before it can be replaced.
Another advantage of the modular belt conveyor is increased drainage and airflow, which can be useful in food processing settings. The belts can be cleaned fairly easily as well to help prevent contamination. These belts can't, however, be used on conveyor systems that feature an oven or other heating component, as the plastic can melt when exposed to high temperatures. Systems that do feature such heating elements usually require a wire mesh belt, which is both flexible and heat-resistant. Plastic belts are much lighter than mesh belts, making installation or replacement much easier, and modification of a wire belt often requires cutting and welding, whereas a plastic belt requires no such action.