There are two ways to power your conveyor system: using gravity, or using an electric motor. There are such a wide variety of motors available, and they come in so many form factors, that the topic falls outside the scope of this article, however. We will be going into more detail about this in next week’s post.
There are two different types of rollers one can use with gravity-powered conveyor: skatewheel and the regular roller. This type of conveyor can only be used if you intend to move items from a higher place to a lower place; it cannot convey items from the ground, up into a truck, for instance.
Skatewheel is the best option if you are trying to move a lot of small, light items. Because the individual ‘wheels’ of skatewheel are so much smaller than a full roller, they can turn more easily. However, skatewheel also has many more moving parts, and is in a sense more fragile, so it should not be used for very heavy or large items.
Gravity roller, then, is best used if you are unloading large trucks with heavy, regularly-sized items.
While gravity conveyor utilized skatewheel and rollers, powered conveyor utilizes rollers and belts.
Like with gravity, powered roller conveyor is most useful for regularly sized, heavier items. The main difference between gravity roller and powered rollers, then, is that powered rollers can convey items across greater distances without using elevation changes. Another difference is that powered roller can (when tied together with computer software) create accumulation zones, where boxes wait on the line until they can be removed by hand.
Belted conveyor is the best option if you’re trying to move odd shapes (which might be small enough to fall through skatewheel), or shapes with uneven surfaces. The detriment to using belted conveyor is that, unlike powered roller, it requires more power to use and cannot accomplish the same accumulation tasks (as the entire line needs to be running at once, rather than individual sections).