Conveyor belt: How they are making the world a better place?

 

What things do your Milk can, underwear and a Mercedes have in common? Really, not much! However, as you have answered, all of them would travel through one or many conveyor belt systems before they reach in front of you.

So what is a conveyor belt?

The Conveyor belt is a simple, wide, and efficient belt, which is driven by a motor to convey objects from one point to another.

It is an incredible material handling equipment. The conveyor belt has reduced human workload and increased productivity and efficiency considerably.

The most common conveyor belt we see would be the one at the billing counter at shopping malls or grocery stores. Yes, the slow and steady belt that takes your goods to the biller and stops at the billing computer.

Conveyor belts are all around us. Every small or big industry use them in one way or other.

Every product that Amazon delivers travel through a network of conveyor belts before it reaches your hand. Industrial revolution became a reality by using continuous manufacturing techniques. The conveyor belts played a major role in the progress of industrial revolution. We will see a bit of history of conveyor belts first.

A little bit of history…

The conveyor belts were first conceptualized in the late 18th century and their first occurrence was recorded in the year of 1795. Oliver Evans, an American inventor and industrialist employed automation techniques, which included bucket elevators with chains and conveyor belts in his flourmill to automate the production. At that time, the conveyor belts were made of the leather, which used to run over the wooden beds. They were used for moving grain sacks. In the early years of manufacturing, the conveyor belts were only made of the leather, rubber or canvas. At that time the conveyor systems were very popular for passing on the bulky items between the two places, but it was the beginning of the 20th century when the conveyor belts were used for number of other applications.

Thomas Robins developed a conveyor belt in the year of 1892, which was then used for carrying ore, coal and other raw materials. After that in 1901, a Swedish firm named Sandvik started the manufacturing of conveyor belts which were made from steel. The revolution in the production of conveyor belts came when Richard Suttcliffe, a British mining engineer, produced the world’s first conveyor belt that was being used for underground mining. His invention not only revolutionized the conveyor belt industry, but it was also a new innovation in the mining industry.

The use of conveyor belts in Germany became common from 1907 onwards. And in 1908, Hymle Goddard got the copyright for the roller conveyor for his company, but the business of the roller conveyors did not prosper. After that, in 1913, Henry Ford has got the tag of first car manufacturer who used the assembly lines with the conveyor belts. And from 1919 onwards, the free and powered conveyors were being largely used in the automotive industry. However, the introduction of the synthetic conveyor belts was another turning point in the history of conveyor belts. Synthetic conveyor belts were introduced during the Second World War as then there was the scarcity of rubber, cotton and canvas.

Where the conveyor belts are used?

Though the conveyor belting systems are used in almost every type of industry, they are categorized into mainly two industrial classes- bulk material handling and general material handling. The general material handling belts are mainly used in the production industries for the transportation of goods between two places, whereas the bulk material handling belting systems are mainly used in the outdoor locations for the transportation of heavy materials, like agricultural or industrial goods.  Thus, no matter whether it is an agricultural industry or a production company, it is largely dependent on the conveyor belting systems for the transportation of goods. As we saw earlier, the grocery stores, airports and shopping malls etc. are dependent on the small conveyor systems.

Benefits of using the conveyor belts

  • Belt conveyors are much efficient than the human workforce. It is because these belt conveyors could pass on the least heavy to the most bulky goods within less time. Also, there is the less risk of getting the material damaged as it is placed well on the belts.
  • A belt conveyor system works at perfect or flexible speed. In contrast to the human workplace, which can carry only few items in a single run, the belt conveyors not only carry the multiple items at a time but also deliver them at the place with no much time.
  • As a single conveyor belt does the work of many employees, it reduces the expenses of the company while improving the efficiency.

An excellent illustration of efficiency that conveyor belt systems bring to our lives is that of the baggage handling in Airports. Terminal 3 of Dubai International Airport, which serves up to 40 Million passengers per year, handles 15,000 Bags per hour. Their complete conveyor lines total to 90 KM in length. This futuristic conveyor system, with the help of RFID stations and Barcode readers, demonstrates the power and possibilities of high-speed conveyors.

Where is the longest conveyor belt in the world and how does that matter?

We could conclude by seeing the hard work of a special conveyor belt to make the world a better place. It is the world’s longest conveyor belt, which is 98 km long, located in Western Sahara. This conveyor belt transports the phosphate rocks from Bou Craa to El-Aaiun. It is able to carry about 2000 metric tons of rock in a single hour.

Phosphate is used in fertilizers all over the world for agriculture. Every living thing needs phosphorous. The fact that 85 % of total phosphate reserves are in Morocco and a lot of it lies in Western Sahara suggests that, our kids and we would be consuming the food from the crop flourished by the fertilizer containing phosphate conveyed by this wonderful longest conveyor belt!

 

Reference and further reading:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oliver_Evans

http://gizmodo.com/the-worlds-longest-conveyor-belt-system-can-be-seen-fro-1566742063

http://w3.siemens.com/market-specific/global/en/airports/baggage_cargo/Documents/al_dubai.pdf

 

4 thoughts on “Conveyor belt: How they are making the world a better place?

  1. This is some really interesting information. I am kind of surprised that it took about a hundred years from the time conveyor belts started being used to when they were used in carrying ore. I would have thought that carrying ore out of mines would have been a bigger priority. However, I guess they already had carts that did the carrying work.

    1. Dear James,

      Thank you for your interest in our article. Yes, you are right.They would have definitely used carts before conveyor belts became popular.

      We were able to browse your company website and will be excited to use the useful information as resource and reference.

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