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A power conveyor is the name for a conveyor system that uses non-human energy to operate. Typically, these systems are belts that run on wheels which are powered by electricity, but this is not always the case. Some systems use non-electric power, such as wind or water power, while other conveyors use rollers instead of belts. In a typical belt system, the conveyor belt is wrapped around a series of roller wheels, one of which is powered by an external system. This one roller moves the belt and the other rollers are only used for support.
The idea behind a power conveyor is very simple. A flat belt is made into a ring shape and placed over a number of rollers, which both support the belt and allow it to maintain a constant shape. One or more of the rollers are connected to a power source, usually a motor. The motor turns one or more rollers, which causes the belt to move. Users can then place items on one end of the belt and the movement will move the material to the other end.
The belts on a typical power conveyor are made of a composite material that is custom-designed for the conditions in which the belt will operate. Generally, the base of the belt is a tough but flexible material. In the past, this was typically a canvas cloth, but newer belts use a wide range of natural and manmade materials. This core is then covered in several protective layers to prevent damage that would disrupt the belt’s operation. Lastly, an outer coating, often of rubber, gives the belt traction against the rollers and keeps moved objects from slipping.
The rollers used by a power conveyor are also pretty simple. There are two types of rollers: idle rollers, consisting of a metal rod surrounded by a free moving metal drum, and active rollers, which look the same but the drum is connected to the rod. The outer surface of the drum is either textured or bonded with a material that will provide better grip, and it is this outer area that is in direct contact with the belt. Active rollers are connected to a power source and idle rollers are not.
When a power conveyor doesn’t use a belt, the work surface is typically just a series of close set rollers. These rollers are either all-powered, in which case their surfaces have heavy grip, or only some are powered, then with only a grip surface and the rest are very smooth. The grip on the active rollers allow them to push the work objects with extra force along the relatively-smooth idle rollers.