Many types of conveyor systems are an important part of industries, machine or machine systems that are vital workhorses. Just like other machines, their work is specialised and new specialties are found for these every now and then. Innovation and advanced tech is something to look out for conveyors. 

Especially important to all stakeholders for this industry is the capacity of these systems for materials handling. In fact, this is the primary job that conveyors are made to address. Materials handling though comes in many specifications and needs, in varied areas in industrial installations and construction. 

Different kinds of conveyors are used in specific kinds of applications. Conveyor specifications differ from job to job or from installation to installation. The three major sources of motive power include:

  1. Manual 
  2. Powered
  3. Gravity

The specs and the job at hand will define belt lengths and widths, roller dimensions, thicknesses, power capacities, motive power, area applied, system type and more.

types of conveyor

Types Of Conveyor Systems

There are various types of conveyor machines in use today. You may be familiar with at least a few. Try guessing how they work from the title and see your answers fit with the short descriptions of each: 

  • Roller  – usually frame mounted parallel rollers that are operated manually or by gravity; this material handling equipment are mostly used in baggage handling, docks, assembly lines and the like; gravity is used to when the system is inclined, and manually if the roller chain is horizontal; spec variables for a roller conveyor include axle centers and dimensions and roller diameter.
  • Belt – continuous belts that run an infinite loop to do material or product transfers; a belt conveyor is typically made of special rubber, leather, plastic composites,  metal or certain fabrics; thickness varies according to load requirements and the belt can troughed for bulk handling; the belt-driven system can be run inclined or on a horizontal plane; variable speeds that are usually run with mechanised power; the system is expandable for all sorts of bulk material handling.
  • Live or Powered Roller – the powered version of roller conveyors, the powered rollers may have a conveyer belt, chain/sprocket or motorised rollers for drives; usually used for complex industrial systems like packaging, food processing or metal production. 
  • Magnetic – highly specialised, to handle materials that chip or powder but are magnetically active, like iron or scrap metal; magnets are mounted under slider beds in combination with plates or tables; this system is typically used to clean up machining plants; magnets enable this to run horizontally, vertically, combined or upside down.
  • Ball Transfer – this system is made more agile by mounted ball casters; usually unpowered; a conveyor chain system becomes multi-directional here, for instance, when needed in conveyor sorting systems; comes in different load capacities and sizing.
  • Slat Belt/Apron – this is made up of slates of stainless steel, wood and other kinds of materials that are roller mounted; slats do not overlap or interlock; applications for this are typically for heavy industrial use; belt types can also have slats or aprons to prolong service life when exposed to heavier loads; usually powered and comes in various load capacities and sizing.
types of conveyor
  • Bucket – uses belts, chain conveyors, cables and bucket elevators, the system can run variably – vertical when in movement and inclined to tip the buckets to release materials; usually in use to transfer liquids, semi liquids or dry materials. 
  • Pneumatic/Vacuum – this type uses vacuum and air pressure to transport items across surfaces, ducts or tubes; this is ideal to use for handling very light and even microscopic materials, like dust, tickets, pieces of paper; it can also be used to process scraps, food, minerals and chemicals, sizing and load specs varying according to material handled.
  • Overhead – the overhead conveyor system is uses an overhead mount to handle materials; usually uses clamps and electric track, trolley or rail systems for movement; this is usually mounted on ceilings using a combination of cables or chains or specialised connections;  can be inclined or ramped; usually powered while specialty designs can be hand-operated; flexible enough to use in things like paint lines for cars, curing, cooling and more.
  • Chute/Trough – usually using inclines and gradients, the trough or chute system typically uses gravity to convey items; a good example of this system is the laundry chute; load capacities depend on materials used; great for items that have different sizes and weights, without the need of too much control or specialised work or processing.
  • Screw/Auger – the auger or screw system works just like it sounds using the most basic conveyor components; usually powered or hand-cranked, the screw can be small or large to accommodate materials; it is one of the most versatile systems able to handle liquids, semi solids, powdered materials, chips and more; can be configured to handle heavy loads; can have hopper attachments; can be inclined or horizontal and can be seen working in places like municipal utilities and the like.
  • Drag/Chain/Tow – a conveying system that uses a combination of pulley and chain conveyor systems to tow out or drag materials; by using a towline through things like fully enclosed tubes, they are used for conveying hard to handle materials through any direction and with multiple load or discharge points; can also be used to directly tow carts or dollies.
  • Vertical/Elevator – the vertical conveyor is also known as the reciprocating or continuous lift type, it augments facility operations by adding flexibility in conveying products vertically to multiple heights; important considerations here are speed levels, maximum height and load capacities; this can be mechanised and powered, manual or gravity driven. 
types of conveyor
  • Wheel  – perhaps the most basic design for materials handling, this system uses gravity or can be manually driven; it is mostly used to handle packages as part of a process of loading or unloading.
  • Walking Beam – one of the latest systems to be patented, this type is tasked to index work items through a manufacturing process, and are usually found on automation or assembly, especially in terms of sequencing for advanced processing or sorting what is conveyed; a beam indexes a stationary item and walks it to its next position.
  • Vibrating – either uses linear or rotary vibrations to carry or handle bulk material across a distance, usually for dry, bulk materials like coal and gravel or aggregates; a bed is used and vibrates along the entire length of a flat top, trough or tube; variable sizing. 

Contact An Expert For Your Conveyor Needs

Assembly lines, mine feeds, quality checking, packaging and other processes are complex enough. In modern industries, the work is often done in bulk, with a large volume or number of items processed. If human personnel are used, very little can be accomplished, and modern industry has always been about continuous, large scale production.

Conveyors have been there virtually since day one. These in fact were built precisely for modern industrial concerns. They have been in constant and excellent service ever since, and no compatible system have been found to replace these efficient machines and contraptions. 


If you have any questions, concerns, interest or need for types of conveyor systems for business, you simply have to visit One Step Splicing & Labour at www.onestepsplicing.com.au, go to our contacts page. Email or phone, whatever suits you or is more convenient, we stand ready to answer, consult, solve or provide what you need.

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