What do a watering can, a pack of mothballs, a gallon of milk, and a sun hat have in common? Nothing! Except that they may be travel companions on a conveyor belt at a Target or Walmart.
Automated conveyor systems have long been a familiar part of our commercial and industrialized landscape, transporting materials large and small, heavy and light—from coal and cars to diamonds and cigars. Some conveyor belts follow a circuitous path in assembly line operations, while others traverse an open expanse across many miles. And many simply move objects a distance of a few feet in a straight line.
We are proud to announce the introduction of a Framing Tech modular conveyor system for use in the U.S. market. Currently, we are offering flatbed belt conveyors, but plan to expand that offering soon as more interest develops.
How Did We Get from There to Here?
A conveyor is generally defined as a device providing mechanized movement of material or objects, as in a factory. A simple conveyor belt consists of two pulleys with a loop of material rotating continuously around them to facilitate movement, as in a grocery store checkout counter.
Since humans have been inventing labor-saving devices since there was labor, it’s hard to pinpoint when exactly the conveyor belt was invented. It is believed, however, that the first mechanized, steam-powered belt conveyor system was put into operation in 1804 by the British Navy in their kitchens to mass-produce the sailor hardtack biscuits with which their ships were provisioned.
Those early conveyors, which consisted of a simple belt of leather, canvas, or rubber, moved over a wooden bed and generally were used to transport bulk materials such as grain over short distances. By the end of the 19th century, these simple devices had been widely adapted for sophisticated industrial use and had become much more complex.
Framing Tech’s Conveyors
Currently, we offer three types of flatbed belt conveyors: the 20, 50, and 95 Series, with more options in the offing. The diameter of the roller defines the series. For instance, the 20 Series has a 20mm-diameter roller and is well suited for ferrying small, lightweight products, while the 95 Series is crafted for more heavy-duty transportation.
Below are outlined the various components and features of our conveyor systems.
The frame is the core structure of the conveyor system that can be tailored to your specific needs using our aluminum T-slot framing components.
- The 20 Series conveyors use a frame constructed with 18.5mm × 45mm T-slot aluminum extrusions.
- The 50 Series conveyors use a frame constructed with 45mm × 45mm T-slot aluminum extrusions.
- The 95 Series conveyors use a frame constructed with 45mm × 90mm T-slot aluminum extrusions.
Sheet Metal Bed:
This thin piece of sheet metal sits atop the frame to provide a smooth surface for the belt to slide across. Options include galvanized steel and stainless steel.
Two roller kits attach to opposite ends of the frame. The drive roller connects to an electric motor via a keyed shaft. The idler roller helps track the belt. Each roller kit has a set of plates that mount on the ends of the aluminum frame and are bolted in place. These plates contain bearings that secure the rollers to facilitate years of smooth motion.
There is a wide variety of belts available that can be fashioned for different applications—assembly lines, food and beverage, and cleanroom component processing, among others.
To select the correct motor, it is imperative to know the weight of the product being transported and the optimal speed for the system. The motor can then be integrated into the timing systems.
While not always needed, guides can help prevent items from falling off the belt, maintain product organization during transport, and help redirect products appropriately.
There are two main types of conveyor motorization: Direct Drive and Central Drive. In a Direct Drive system, the motor is attached directly to the drive end of the conveyor, as seen in most flatbed belt conveyor applications. This type of motorization is used when the conveyor needs to operate in one direction only. The direction of motion across the top of a conveyor is always towards the motor end, as the motor “pulls” the belt.
A Central Drive system facilitates operation in both directions. This is made possible by mounting the motor and drive roller underneath the conveyor. Two tensioning rollers keep the belt tight on either side of the drive roller, which allows the motor to “pull” the belt in either direction. While the majority of flatbed conveyors are Direct Drive, the Central Drive option is more versatile.
Uses and Applications
20 Series Conveyors:
This lightweight, short, and/or narrow, unidirectional conveyor is ideal for carrying small components. We have three belt widths for this series: 80mm, 130mm, and 180mm. The operational length of a 20 Series conveyor is between 400mm and 2,500mm.
50 Series Conveyors:
One of our most popular and versatile conveyor systems, the 50 Series can tackle most of your conveying needs. The 50 Series belt conveyors are available in Direct Drive and Central Drive configurations. We have belt widths available in 50mm increments from 130mm to 500mm, with custom-sizing options available. The length for 50 Series flatbed belt conveyors is between 500mm and 6,000mm.
95 Series Conveyors:
Intended for heavy-duty hauling over a long period, this system uses our rugged 45mm × 90mm profile. Similar to the 50 Series conveyors, the 95 Series conveyors are available in Direct Drive and Central Drive configurations. We carry belt widths in 50mm increments between 200mm and 1000mm and offer custom sizing. The 95 Series conveyors are available in lengths of between 700mm and 6,000mm.
About That British Navy Hardtack…
As mentioned earlier, the British Navy likely put into operation the world’s first mechanized conveyor belt system. But the hardtack they produced, at that time, was notoriously inedible: unappetizing, tasteless, worm-eaten, and hard as a plank of wood that would break your teeth if you bit down on it without first soaking it in hot tea. Such military biscuits are a far cry from the sweet vision of gustatory goodness the word “biscuit” evokes today:
That’s how far our belt conveyor systems have advanced from the first early attempts of the British Navy. While today’s sweet English biscuits will forever remain vastly different and far removed from the less savory hardtack of yore, we can help you bridge the efficiency gaps in your operations by integrating our 21st-century modular conveyors into your production environment. We use leg systems and mounting components to seamlessly tie the conveyor into configurations like production and automation cells.
Learn more about our belt conveyor systems at our website—and then give us a call.