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A manual conveyor belt is a system that consists of a rubber, metal, or composite belt looped around two or more pulleys. It is usually used to transport heavy objects from one location to another, and is an unpowered system that lacks an engine or motor. The manual conveyor belt can be operated by hand, or the belt may move freely when an object is placed upon it and given a push or pull. These systems are usually much smaller than powered systems, though not always necessarily so.
The industries that often use a manual conveyor belt can vary significantly. The mining and processing industries commonly use belt systems, though most are not manual conveyor belt systems; they instead use powered systems that can haul heavy materials consistently without the need for human propulsion. Small factories or warehouses may use manual conveyor belt systems to move boxes or other items across a short distance, and shipping companies may use such systems for the sorting and processing of packaging.
A system that is similar to the manual conveyor belt functions in the same way but does not use a belt at all. Instead, a series of metal rollers are positioned parallel to each other, and items can simply be pushed along the length of these rollers that are set into frames. The rollers usually feature bearings that allow for free movement, and a large item can be pushed along the track with little effort. Warehouses and factories often use these systems, and they are commonly seen at security checkpoints at airports. These systems are not appropriate for smaller items that can fall between the rollers, or bulky items with loose ends that can get caught between rollers. Items with uneven surfaces also may get caught up in this system.
Various food industry applications are appropriate for the manual conveyor belt as well, though again, in certain settings, a powered belt system may be more appropriate. Part of the process of cleaning, processing, and packaging foods will be done in a factory setting, and the food must be moved quickly across a certain area so various workers can attend to the processes. A manual conveyor system may work well for this application, especially in smaller factories or food processing plants. The packaging process is helped especially by belt systems, as the food can be packaged and moved to storage units or trucks for transport quickly and efficiently.