The belt consists of one or more layers of material they can be made out of rubber. Many belts in general material handling have two layers. An under layer of material to provide linear strength and shape called a carcass and an over layer called the cover. The carcass is often a cotton or plastic web or mesh. The cover is often various rubber or plastic compounds specified by use of the belt. Covers can be made from more exotic materials for unusual applications such as silicone for heat or gum rubber when traction is essential.
Material flowing over the belt may be weighed in transit using a belt weigher. Belts with regularly spaced partitions, known as elevator belts, are used for transporting loose materials up steep inclines. Belt Conveyors are used in self-unloading bulk freighters and in live bottom trucks. Conveyor technology is also used in conveyor transport such as moving sidewalks or escalators, as well as on many manufacturing assembly lines. Stores often have conveyor belts at the check-out counter to move shopping items.
A wide variety of related conveying machines are available, different as regards principle of operation, means and direction of conveyance, including screw conveyors, vibrating conveyors, pneumatic conveyors, the moving floor system, which uses reciprocating slats to move cargo, and roller conveyor system, which uses a series of powered rollers to convey boxes or pallets.
Conveyors are used as components in automated distribution and warehousing. In combination with computer controlled pallet handling equipment this allows for more efficient retail, wholesale, and manufacturing distribution. It is considered a labor saving system that allows large volumes to move rapidly through a process, allowing companies to ship or receive higher volumes with smaller storage space and with less labor expense.
Rubber conveyor belts are commonly used to convey items with irregular bottom surfaces, small items that would fall in between rollers or bags of product that would sag between rollers. Belt conveyors are generally fairly similar in construction consisting of a metal frame with rollers at either end of a flat metal bed. The belt is looped around each of the rollers and when one of the rollers is powered (by an electrical motor) the belting slides across the solid metal frame bed, moving the product. In heavy use applications the beds which the belting is pulled over are replaced with rollers. The rollers allow weight to be conveyed as they reduce the amount of friction generated from the heavier loading on the belting. Belt conveyors can now be manufactured with curved sections which use tapered rollers and curved belting to convey products around a corner. These conveyor systems are commonly used in postal sorting offices and airport baggage handling systems. A sandwich belt conveyor uses two conveyor belts, face-to-face, to firmly contain the item being carried, making steep incline and even vertical-lift runs achievable.
Belt conveyors are the most commonly used powered conveyors because they are the most versatile and the least expensive. Product is conveyed directly on the belt so both regular and irregular shaped objects, large or small, light and heavy, can be transported successfully. These conveyors should use only the highest quality premium belting products, which reduces belt stretch and results in less maintenance for tension adjustments. Belt conveyors can be used to transport product in a straight line or through changes in elevation or direction. In certain applications they can also be used for static accumulation or cartons.