Types of Conveyor Belts Useful in Warehouse Automation


  • What is a Conveyor Belt?
  • Benefits of Using Conveyor Belts
  • Basic Types of Conveyor Belts
  • Warehouse Applications for Different Types of Conveyor Belts

What is a Conveyor Belt?

Conveyor belts are a standard piece of equipment for warehouses. Primarily, it’s used in transporting and sorting goods. A basic conveyor belt will have two pulleys- the drive and the idle pulley. Around the pulley is a closed loop that rotates. This causes the forward motion of the items. This article will discuss the different types of conveyor belts. 

Benefits of Using Conveyor Belts

Conveyor belts automate the flow of products. This makes transportation and sorting easier and faster throughout the warehouse. Furthermore, you can set up a conveyor belt anywhere within the warehouse. It moves materials safely as there is no chance of dropping heavier objects. This, in turn, improves the speed of order to shipment. It essentially prevents accidents and injuries while increasing throughput. 

Basic Types of Conveyor Belts 

1. Roller Bed Conveyor

Based on the name, the belt or loop rotates around rollers instead of pulleys. Usually, two rollers are enough to move the belt. The number of rollers varies depending on the weight and speed of the items. Rollers increase if the goods travel longer distances in the warehouse. 

Types of Conveyor Belts Useful in Warehouse Automation
Types of Conveyor Belts Useful in Warehouse Automation

2. Flat Belt Conveyor 

The flat belt conveyor is one of the most widely used. Unlike the roller bed, the belt sits on a long, flat surface. The conveyor has a series of pulleys on each end which helps it rotate. It uses a variety of materials for the belt loop. In fact, natural or synthetic materials make up the belt loop. This makes the conveyor belt very flexible.

3. Modular Belt Conveyor

The modular belt uses a different type of loop. While flat belts use one, continuous loop, modular use interlocking pieces. Plastic interlocked together creates the belt loop. Maintenance becomes easy because you can remove and replace each segment. The segmented design also lessens the chances of objects slipping.  

4. Cleated Belt Conveyor

Barriers or segments define the cleated conveyor belts. Small, horizontal barriers separate the belt into segments. These barriers keep the distance between products, so they don’t stick together. The cleats also secure the materials during an incline or decline. Cleats come in different shapes and sizes, depending on their usage.

5. Curved Belt Conveyor 

As the name implies, these types of conveyor belts have curved frames. It carries parcels or items around corners. Aside from this, it also helps objects change direction. It also helps in maximizing the available floor space. Some curved belts even bend up to 180 degrees. 

6. Incline/Decline Belt Conveyor

Incline conveyors feature a centre drive and gear motor that help it rotate. Instead of using a smooth-surfaced belt, this type has a rough surface. This makes it ideal for carrying products up or down. They work well with cleated conveyor belts for transporting materials.

7. Drum Conveyor

The drum conveyor gets its name from its cylindrical shape.  They act as a giant pulley that rotates to move the loop forward. A long shaft in the middle helps it rotate. Because of its size, there is maximum contact with the belt. This helps the belt move forward consistently. 

8. Special Conveyors

There are also special conveyors made specifically for certain tasks. One example is a sanitary and washdown conveyor. Food handling warehouses use this type of conveyor. They are designed to withstand constant cleaning. Some other examples of special conveyors are: 

  • Fiberglass Belt Conveyor – conveyors made of fibreglass to withstand extreme temperatures
  • Narrow-width Conveyor – useful for handling small items 
  • Gravity Skatewheel Extendable – flexible conveyor fitted with wheels; easily contracts/folds to save floor space

Warehouse Applications for Different Types of Conveyor Belts

Conveyor Belts for Receiving 

When items arrive to replenish the stock, this involves receiving processes. In the receiving area, you want a continuous flow of products. Accidents slow down the delivery of other items. To avoid this, the following belt conveyors are useful: 

  • Roller Bed Conveyor 
  • Flat Bed Conveyor
  • Incline/Decline Belt Conveyor 

Roller Bed conveyors or Flat Bed Conveyors are both useful for unloading. A flexible, powered roller conveyor expands for easy transportation. On the other hand, a rigid flat belt conveyor is also handy. It easily unloads items from a delivery vehicle. 

The incline/decline belt conveyor is also useful for transporting. It easily carries items up or down the warehouse. This way, staff can place them in storage before getting sorted for delivery.

Conveyor Belts for Warehouse Picking

Warehouse picking refers to pulling an item from inventory. Remember that travel accounts for the majority of labour costs. Warehouse waste management reduces transport waste. However, having belt conveyors to move items around also helps. Some conveyor belts that could be useful in order fulfilment processes are: 

  • Roller bed conveyor
  • Curved belt conveyor 
  • Cleated conveyor

Order picking becomes easier with roller bed conveyors. While flatbed conveyors function the same, roller beds are easier to maintain. Having conveyors lessens the travelling that employees need to do. 

Curved conveyors help in maximizing available floor space. They also help items change direction, depending on where they need to go. Additionally, they have a subtype known as spiral conveyors. Spiral conveyors are also curved, but they can be several levels in height. At first glance, they appear to look like slides. Spiral conveyors also help in multi-level pick areas. 

Aside from receiving, cleated conveyors also help in order fulfilment. Cleated conveyors separate items. This is important in a parcel scanning system with a singulated flow. In a singulated flow, the system only scans items one at a time. Cleats also prevent items from rolling back when they travel up or down. 

A sorter can also help speed up warehouse operations. There are different types of sorters. They work well with conveyors in warehouse automation practices. 

Conveyor Belts for Shipping 

Shipping is the final process that an item goes through before leaving the warehouse. It is also one of the most important. It takes the item from the client to the customer. Shipping is only successful if it is sorted, loaded, and dispatched to the right customer. Some issues that conveyors help with are: 

  • storage and retrieval inefficiency
  • human errors
  • layout issues

The types of conveyor belts used in receiving are also useful here. Instead of unloading the materials, you load them onto their transports. As such, the following conveyors are useful here: 

  • Roller Bed Conveyor 
  • Flat Bed Conveyor
  • Incline/Decline Belt Conveyor 
  • Gravity Skatewheel Extendable

A special conveyor known as the gravity skatewheel extendable is also useful here. It is optimally for distribution purposes. Loading and unloading become very easy with this type of conveyor. 

There are other types of conveyor belts that could be suitable for your business. If you need help in choosing the right conveyor belt, contact Qbasis today!

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