What Is a Power Belt Conveyor?

Maggie J. Hall

A motorized conveyor belt may also be referred to as a power belt conveyor. Common types of conveyor systems include bulk and general material handling machines. The construction and materials used to build conveyors depends on the particular use. Manufacturers design and build conveyors in straight lines, curves and inclines, and different systems transport objects or materials regardless of size, shape, or temperature.

Escalators can be seen as conveyor belts built from stairs.
Escalators can be seen as conveyor belts built from stairs.

A power belt conveyor system generally includes a frame, pulleys or rollers, the conveyor belt and the motor. The belt usually contains multiple layers that include the under-layer, which contacts and revolves around the pulleys or rollers, and the top layer, called the cover. A motorized pulley or roller pulls the belt around a system that contains a line of other pulleys or rollers, which are all attached to the frame. Power belt conveyor motors use manual operation or function automatically via computer control. Some warehouse systems also incorporate sensors and robotic vision, which alerts employees when quality control issues occur.

Power belt conveyors can be built in any shape and size.
Power belt conveyors can be built in any shape and size.

Bulk material power belt conveyor systems may take grain to the top of storage bins, deliver coal and rocks from mines, or transport hot asphalt to the top of buildings. Each machine contains mechanical and physical specifications that enable it to function in a particular environment. The belts on agricultural conveyors differ from industrial conveyor belts because they carry different loads. While agricultural machines have belts with two-ply rubber materials, belts carrying heavier objects, which may include rocks or coal, might have up to four layers and contain steel cable fibers woven into the fabric.

Conveyors used for roofing and road construction require the incorporation of heat resistant materials. Materials used for this type of power belt conveyor must withstand temperatures that often exceed 500 degrees Fahrenheit (260 degrees Celsius). Conveyor belts used in food processing typically contain polyurethane or other material that can be properly cleaned and sanitized. Some belts contain magnets, ensuring product stabilization regardless of whether items travel horizontally upright or in an upside down configuration. Specialized conveyor systems might also contain two belts, which grasp products and move them vertically to another location.

A ski lift is a basic power belt conveyor design. The belt, in this instance, is typically a steel cable to which a chair or enclosed car is attached. Large wheels powered by a motor rotate this cable around a specified area. Escalators are another example of conveyors that travel up and down an incline while rotating around a stationary frame. Mines in the Western Sahara reportedly have the longest recorded power conveyor belt in the world, measuring 62 miles (100 kilometers) in length.

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