What Is a Plastic Conveyor?

B. Turner
B. Turner
Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

A plastic conveyor is a device used to transport materials through an industrial or manufacturing facility. These units serve as part of an assembly line system, and consist of a plastic belt aligned over a metal or plastic frame. Traditional conveyor belts are made from steel or other metals, but many users have switched to plastic due to its superior sanitation and flexibility. Plastic conveyor systems are primarily known for their high degree of customization, and many are completely modular. This means that firms involved in customer manufacturing, or those that make a wide range of products can easily reconfigure these conveyor systems to reflect the demands of each new product line.

Plastic conveyor systems typically include a variety of standard parts, including straight line sections, curves, inclines, and angles. These pieces are designed to connect and disconnect easily from one another, allowing workers to quickly and efficiently rearrange the line as needed. Many feature simple height adjustment tools and built-in connectors, allowing for easy changes between product lines. Some plastic conveyors may not feature this type of modular design, however, particularly those with steel frames rather than heavy plastic ones. Buyers should review the assembly and reconfiguration capabilities of each type of system before committing to a purchase.

These plastic conveyor systems are often distinguished based on the features of the belt, or conveyor. Many consist of a solid plastic belt, though the surface texture can vary. Some are smooth, while others are ribbed or coated with some other raised surface to increase friction. Plastic belts may also be divided into flights, or even arranged into individual trays. These belts may even feature an open mesh, which allows unwanted debris to fall through while keeping the product in place on the conveyor.

Plastic conveyor systems are particularly common in the food processing industry, and were first used by seafood packing companies. Compared to steel, which requires gaps between sections of belt, plastic belts can remain uninterrupted, resulting in fewer crevices for bacteria to hide. Modern plastic belts are also resistant to chemicals, and many feature enhanced properties that resist cuts and abrasions. These belts are often constructed using colors that contrast sharply with the food being produced, which helps workers spot foreign matter.

Compared to traditional metal systems, plastic conveyors typically are much less expensive. They are also quieter, and offer increased flexibility. Finally, these belts are easy to clean, and are less likely to damage fragile products that a metal conveyor system.

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