What is a Cable Conveyor?

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  • Written By: Paul Scott
  • Edited By: R. Halprin
  • Last Modified Date: 29 November 2019
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A cable conveyor is a conveyor belt system which utilizes a pair of endless steel cables to both drive and support the belt and its load. This is in contrast to conventional conveyor systems where the belt itself is driven by a set of drive rollers and supported along its length by idler rollers. These cables support the belt on both the carry and return runs and only separate from it at the drive and tail ends of the conveyor. A cable conveyor system offers a wide range benefits including increased loads, reduced complexity, and tighter turn radiuses.

Cable conveyors feature several unique and beneficial departures from conventional conveyor belt design. The first, and perhaps most significant of these, is the conveyor drive system. A pair of endless steel cables, one on either side of the belt, is used to both support and drive the cable conveyor. A conventional system sees the belt itself being driven via a series of rollers which places considerable strain on the belt with resultant wear and alignment issues.


Conventional conveyors also require regularly placed sets of idler rollers to support the belt and its load. The cables that drive and support a cable conveyor only require two small guide pulleys in each set as opposed to the three or four rollers required normally. There are also typically less than half the numbers of support sets necessary on any given length of cable conveyor resulting in lower installation and maintenance costs.

Given its unique drive and support design, this type of conveyor system uses a preformed belt which allows for a larger load bearing area. It also means that the belt is less prone to wander or deflect laterally due to off- center loads or alignment issues resulting in less spillage. In addition, the rope support system requires only the tilting of the support pulleys through curves and not the installation of extra rollers. This also has the effect of reducing turn induced belt deflection with a resultant increase in load capacity through these curves.

The cable conveyor system is also capable of following a far tighter curve radius than a convention conveyor with horizontal turns possible in 400 meters or less. These cable systems are suitable for conveyor lengths of between just over half a mile (1 Km) and 31 miles (50 Km) and are easily extended should the need arise. They exhibit excellent average load bearing characteristics with maximum loads in the region of 6,000 metric tons per hour. Cable conveyors are also particularly well suited to steep incline installations. The combination of low cost, reduced maintenance, and route flexibility makes the cable conveyor an attractive and cost efficient option for transporting material over long distances and in all terrain conditions.


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