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Which Conveyor? – Belt or Driven roller conveyor

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Which conveyor is best for my application?

The answer generally comes down to suitability & cost. Both conveyors reduce manual handling, double handling and overall reduces costs to businesses.

belt conveyor

Belt Conveyors

Belt Conveyors are ideal for transportation of non uniform products, such as packets and common boxes or totes. PVC belts are more effective when items are placed directly on top of the belt for product transportation, not pushed on to the belt from the side.
Belt conveyors are effective for product transportation, however they do not allow for product accumulation, unless multiple belts are used. Due to a small number of moving parts and a low number of nip points, it is an ideal type for a wide range of transportation applications. This style is very effective when coupled with packing benches, packing line transportation and product assembly lines.
They provide a solution requiring low maintenance, where items such as tracking and belt stretch can be easily adjusted.

Belt stretch – overtime with higher loads. The belt will stretch a little over time, this will be highlighted by the belt stopping and the drive pulley turning for a short time prior to over loading, protecting the motor.

Belt tracking – This is normally caused by pushing products on to the belt from a side, belt stretch or foreign objects around pulleys and rollers such as stretch wrap. Most problems with belt conveyors can be avoided with a little maintenance. There are options to reduce this problem.

1) Positive belt tracking adjustment.

2) A belt tracking module fitted to the underside of the belt.

3) Positively tracked belts – with a profile guide on the underside. (The downside with option 3 is the belts are more expensive and they increase friction often leading to motor overload and / or higher power consumption.)

Driven Roller Conveyor

Driven Roller Conveyors

Driven Rollers are an ideal form of transportation for uniform loads, such as boxes or totes. The items should have a flat base and be supported by a minimum of 3 rollers under the item.

Rollers not only provide product transport, but they also allow options for product sortation and turning. They are customisable with bends, straights and merges which are cheaper than the equivalent belt conveyor.

The most popular type of driven roller conveyor for product transportation is a lineshaft low pressure accumulation driven roller conveyor. On this type of conveyor the rollers take drive from a lower perpendicular rotating shaft using polyurethane drive bands; this conveyor style also provides options for accumulating.

A lineshaft driven roller conveyor is still the most universally used conveyor for unit load transportation. It is reliable, easy to maintain and conveyor parts are normally readily available, minimising down time. This is a universal conveyor, which means it is easy to reconfigure during any possibe future upgrades.

Another kind of driven roller conveyor which has gained popularity over the past couple of decades, are 24V Driven roller conveyors. This type on the surface appear to be a safe option, although they have a lower voltage they do have places where they perform well. 24V DCs are available in fixed drive or zero pressure accumulation (this has to be specified at point of order as it may require a lot of additional wiring on larger systems). The only possible downside to the 24V Drive roller type conveyor is that there is no high quality, UK supplier of drive roller motors. Therefore it is imperative to carry a number of spare drive rollers on stock. Drive rollers are sadly not interchangeable between manufacturers effectively.


When people are working directly on a conveyor generally a belt conveyor is a good option, even on product build lines (local conveyor bed re-enforcing can be added). However where pushing products sidewards whilst on the conveyor a roller conveyor (Or modular belt conveyor) generally works better.
Where possible we would recommend a conveyor type and build to suit your specific requirements which can involve taking the time and learning a little about your particular process. We would always recommend a conveyor builder whom has technical knowledge and manuals. Produces options for maintenance and is confident enough in there product to offer at least 18 month or 2 year warranties on products.