What is a Motorized Conveyor?

Depending on the system that is in place at a given airport, a baggage carousel may simply provide support for human baggage porters, moving baggage closer to planes.

A motorized conveyor can define one of two types of equipment, but both are used to move materials from one location to another. The first is a conveyor powered by a motor, or containing motorized parts such as rollers, which provide energy for the conveyor unit to move materials uphill or at speeds faster than gravity alone. Another type of motorized conveyor is a truck-mounted unit that can be driven from one location to another to move materials at different locations.

Belt conveyors are typically designed with a rubber or fabric reinforced belt driven by a motor at one end.

Motorized conveyors are used in a wide variety of industries where product needs to be moved vertically upwards before reaching the end of the conveyor. Gravity, or non-powered, drives can often be used when boxes or parts move vertically downwards, but some energy must be supplied to move materials up or over long level distances. A wide variety of conveyor designs can be powered by motors, including belts, rollers and tray systems.

Roller conveyors can be driven using small rollers inside each roller. These conveyors use horizontal rolls spaced at regular intervals, and each roll may contain a small direct drive motor. A direct drive roller contains a central shaft with wire motor windings, and the metal roller is the other half of the motor, which moves when electrical power is sent to the motor on the shaft. Direct drive motors can be controlled at different speeds using a voltage controller, which allows the motorized conveyor to accommodate different production rates or other needs.

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Belt conveyors are typically designed with a rubber or fabric reinforced belt driven by a motor at one end. The belt is looped, providing a continuous carrying surface during operation, and travels over the support rollers at regular spacing to support the load. Heavy materials like rocks or metals may require a motor on both end rollers to provide extra power. This type of motorized conveyor can be permanently mounted in place or designed with wheels or skids to allow its movement.

Truck-mounted conveyors are used for loading luggage at commercial airports. A truck can be driven to the aircraft parked in the terminal, and the motorized conveyor belt can be adjusted to reach the aircraft’s baggage compartment. The conveyor can be powered by the truck engine or a separate engine and includes controls for the baggage handler to start and stop the conveyor as needed.

A different type of conveyor is a motorized screw, which is designed with a central shaft and a screw-shaped continuous lifting plate, enclosed in a hollow cylindrical tube. As the drive shaft rotates, the screw collects material between the turns of the screw plate and tube and carries it upward until it reaches a discharge tube at the top end. These conveyors are commonly used to move loose materials such as grain or powdery compounds that would not move well on a belt conveyor.

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