June 29, 2023

What is a Conveyor System? Definition & Types

A conveyor system is a fast and efficient mechanical apparatus that can automatically transport and move loads and materials in an area. The conveyor system, when automated, can be used to reduce human errors and increase the speed of sorting and transport. A conveyor belt can minimize physical labor and the labor costs linked with transport and sorting. 

Conveyor systems are used to move large and bulky items so that they can be transported with ease. Conveyor systems could be created with wheels, belts, rollers, or chains. 

How Do Conveyor Systems Work? 

Conveyor systems have a straightforward system consisting of a belt stretched across two or more pulleys. The belt, thus, forms a closed loop around the pulleys or wheels and rotates around them when automated. One pulley of the conveyor belt drives the belt and pulls it so that it moves. With its movement, the objects on top of it also move toward a location along the belt. The most common design for conveyor systems uses a rotor to power the pulley system so that the conveyor belt moves continuously. 

For the belt to move continuously and effectively, the driving pulley and the idle pulley should move in the same direction so that the belt is pushed in that same direction. The most basic design of the conveyor belts has a single belt moving in one direction straightly. However, other complicated conveyor systems are different and have multiple belts without tangled formations. 

When we talk about a conveyor system, usually, such methods are used in different industries and are made of multiple conveyor belts. These multi-level conveyor belts are automated and increase the efficiency of transport and delivery of other products and materials across different locations. A conveyor system is used to transport materials to different locations as part of a segmented operation plan so that the final output is a fully processed product. Conveyor systems are used in e-commerce, manufacturing, food processing, shipping, etc. Automated conveyor systems are used to connect different points of an operational flow. 

Related: Beginners Guide To An Automated Inventory System

Different Types Of Conveyor Systems Used In Industries

There are many types of conveyor systems used in various industries. These types of conveyor systems are as follows- 

Gravity Conveyors 

Gravity conveyors are a series of roller or skate wheel conveyors that do not run on any motor but on the earth's gravity. These simple conveyor systems work based on the weight of the package and how they move down an incline based on the gravitational pull and mass of the box. Gravitational conveyors do not always need to be inclined. They can be straight, but you must propel the packages to move them. The gravity conveyors are not automated but very simple to use. 

Belt Conveyors  

Belt conveyors are most commonly used in airports. These simple but automated conveyors are mainly used to move heavy luggage down the line so passengers can pick it up from the luggage section. Belt conveyors are so standard that this comes to mind first when discussing conveyor systems. These are easy to operate and can be seen in many public places. The automated conveyor belt is driven by a motor and two pulleys pulling it around them. The traction of the belt works well in moving the objects. 

MDR Conveyors 

The MDR conveyors are motorized and have gearboxes that control the movement of the conveyor belt. The conveyor system is powered by individual motors enclosed within rollers. So, you have different zones of rollers with one motor per zone distribution. The one motor per zone distribution makes the conveyor system safer and quieter. Suppose the industrial setup is silent, and you wish to operate very efficient and silent machines. In that case, you should choose the MDR conveyors that work well in different industrial environments. The MDR conveyors are also scalable according to the demand for product sorting. The MDR conveyors can also run according to the energy available in a very energy-efficient manner. This type of conveyor system is used for sorting, merging, and routing transfers. 

Sortation Conveyors 

Sortation conveyors are used in the e-commerce and retail sectors. The sortation conveyors are used to identify items and sort them out to divert them to different areas based on their categories and send them out to customers based on their classification. Sortation conveyors are coordinated with software programs that can scan other products and assign SKUs so that they can be sent out to retail outlets and customers according to their orders and SKU numbers. 

Pop-up wheels, shoes, and crossbelt sorters are used to sort through different materials or products. Crossbelt conveyor sorters are the speediest and most efficient of these sorters. Use the crossbelt sorter conveyor system to sort out various products of different sizes and dimensions. E-commerce organizations use these types of automated conveyors. 

Accumulation Conveyors 

Accumulation conveyors are operated either with the help of chains or belts. The accumulation conveyors also perform with the help of noncontact 24 V. They are used to improve the throughput of the order processing flowchart as it moves from picking to other locations for shipping as it allows cases to queue so that they can be accumulated and sent out to the order fulfillment executive in batches. 

There are overhead trolleys and pick-and-pass conveyor systems used in the industrial fields. ECC conveyors are also functional conveyor systems that can be used for trash collection to reduce time. 

These are the basic conveyor system types in the industrial field. The parts of a conveyor system are used to assemble automatic conveyor types that run in tandem with software.

Related: What is a Put-to-Light System?


Conveyor systems have come a long way since the days of manual labor. From being used to transport goods in the industrial revolution, conveyor systems have become essential to many operations. They are applied in various industries, from food product processing and manufacturing to transportation and airport baggage handling. Ultimately, this efficient and cost-beneficial warehouse solution can help your business maximize its productivity and profit. Whether you're just starting or need some help with existing conveyor systems, getting knowledgeable about the types available is critical to finding the right solutions for your needs.

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