Roller Conveyors Explained – Understanding Their Function and Applications

Mar 14, 2024 | Conveyor Systems | 0 comments

Roller conveyors are a significant part of streamlining the efficiency and productivity of material handling operations. In this article, we’ll look at the three basic types of roller conveyors and explore their construction, function within various industries, common applications, and additional criteria for consideration.

Basic Roller Conveyor Construction

The roller conveyor uses a series of rollers in a frame to transport material from one point to another within a manufacturing setting. The driving force may either be gravity or electrically powered, and the entire system is designed to move large volumes of heavy goods with minimal effort. Compared to other types of conveyors, roller conveyors offer flexibility to handle assorted sizes and shapes of goods, scalability for use within different operations, and efficiency in energy consumption and space utilization.

The three basic types of roller conveyors have their own structural features.

The gravity roller conveyor has a simple, non-motorized design that comes in a horizontal plane or gently sloped decline.

The belt-driven live roller is essentially a gravity roller powered by a belt running in the opposite direction of the rollers, capable of stopping or stalling the product while the belt continues to move.

Finally, the chain-driven live roller conveyor uses motorized sprockets and loop-to-loop chains to move its rollers. All designs are formed from welded heavy-gauge steel, boasting a durable system that can withstand the harshest conditions, toughest environments, and most abrasive applications.

Mechanical and Technological Functions

The function of roller conveyors is to reliably transport heavy-duty items in even the most rigorous conditions. Due to their versatility and robust design, they are optimal for moving boxes, cases, drums, and totes of varying weights within a single operation.

The operational mechanism of roller conveyors can vary depending on the specific type. The manual function requires goods to be pushed by hand, the gravity-fed option has the system set at a slight incline to move items, and the powered type includes motors to turn the rollers.

In the case of motorized conveyors, the choice of power supply depends on the specific requirements for the operation, including the weight of goods and the desired speed of movement.

As conveyor technology advances, more innovative methods are used to boost production. Roller conveyors’ efficiency, safety, and adaptability are constantly improving, with automation and artificial intelligence (AI) functions especially being in high demand.

For example, current inventions emphasize smarter conveyor systems that predict maintenance needs, adapt to varying load requirements, and integrate seamlessly with other automated systems. Future trends are expected to push the boundaries further, with more sustainable materials and energy-efficient designs in the pipeline.

The Three Types of Roller Conveyors

Gravity Roller Conveyors

The most fundamental type of roller conveyor, this kind, is exactly as its name states—operating by gravity to move goods over free-spinning rollers. It is a simple, cost-effective option that is easy to install and perfectly relocatable. The only limitation is that gravity conveyors require a slight incline or manual adjustments for speed control. It is most economical for moving flat boxes, containers, and related products through packing areas and assembly lines on its own or in a connected system.

Belt-Driven Live Roller Conveyors

The belt-driven live roller conveyor (BDLR) is ideal for handling a wide variety of goods in different shapes and sizes. It has a quiet operation and is versatile for accumulating, diverting, merging, and transporting various shapes, sizes, and weights. The BDLR’s limitation is the type of goods it can move, based on avoiding wear and tear on the belt driving the rollers. Typically used in applications for warehousing, distribution, and order fulfillment, the standard BDLR model can be adjusted to fit the exact needs of any operation.

Chain-Driven Live Roller Conveyors

The chain-driven live roller conveyor (CDLR) is a motorized conveyor with chains driving the rollers, being particularly robust and reliable for heavy loads. Designed to move bulky products like machinery, filled drums, loaded pallets, and more, the CDLR moves products at a consistent rate of speed over a long distance. Its limitations are the noise factor and regular maintenance, yet its ability to handle the toughest jobs within a wide spectrum of industries makes up for any shortcomings.

Common Applications

Roller conveyors are versatile for every warehousing, manufacturing, and distribution application type. They excel in environments requiring streamlined processes and reduced handling times, such as assembly lines, packaging stations, and shipping areas.

More specific purposes apply to each of the three types of roller conveyors. For example, CDLRs are best suited for transporting totes and pallets being sideloaded, unloaded, and accumulated over a certain distance. At the same time, gravity conveyors are ideal for moving packages of different weights and sizes in conjunction with a system containing mechanically powered conveyors.

Additional Criteria to Consider

Selecting the right roller conveyor requires careful consideration of several key areas. First, the materials’ weight, size, shape, and condition affect the type of conveyor best suited for the operations. Next, the environment’s temperature and humidity must be considered to guarantee that the right mechanism can withstand any harsh environment. Finally, the conveyor is designed and engineered according to key specifications like load capacity, roller diameter, material, and speed to ensure it is suited to the operational demands.

When working with a conveyor designer and manufacturer, you have the option to add accessory features to provide you and your labor force peace of mind when moving goods. Each conveyor system can be tailored to fit your exact criteria to guarantee that any particular transport challenges you may face are effectively handled.

The Right Conveyor for Your Industry

Choosing the conveyor for your operation is crucial for future industry success. Whether you require a simple gravity conveyor to supplement your existing system or a custom-built CDLR to replace an antiquated process, roller conveyors are an optimal blend of efficiency, adaptability, and cost-effectiveness to easily handle all your industrial needs.

As you seek an experienced team to help meet your unique material handling needs, consider Power Pack Conveyor Company as your trusted conveyor solutions partner. With our extensive knowledge and commitment to customer satisfaction, we invite you to contact us to further explore how our roller conveyors can transform your operations.

Our experts are on hand to provide insights and guide you through selecting the ideal automation system that meets your specific needs.

About the Author

Dan Farrar is the CEO of Power Pack Conveyor Company, a pioneering industrial conveyor manufacturer since 1929. Power Pack Conveyor Company specializes in designing, engineering, and manufacturing conveyors, conveyor components, and turn-key systems for OEMs, System Integrators, and Distributors.

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