Conveyors are an essential part of processing, packaging, warehousing and logistics operations. They are designed to physically move products and packs through most, if not all, stages from initial product feeds to final processing, end-of-line packaging and onto transport.    

You can explore the full range of conveyors available from PPMA members by searching  PPMA Machinery Finder.

There are multiple types of conveyor systems available for machinery specifiers. They are used to move products through connected parts of packaging and process lines, either horizontally or vertically. They can be installed as individual units, or form part of a fully integrated system. 

Conveyors are based on different ways of carrying items through production and packaging lines, and can be powered, gravity driven, or unpowered, relying on manual handling to push products along. 


What are the different types of conveyors?

Different types of conveyor are designed for use with a huge number of different products and processes. They can be used to move everything from very small components to loaded pallets, cars and large containers. However, they can only be used for the movement of solid items, or liquids and gases in solid containers.  

Conveyors need to support products on a moving surface such as a belt, or a low friction surface such as rollers. Alternatively, they need to lift the product directly or in a bucket or other container.

The main types of conveyors are:


Roller conveyors 

Roller conveyors consist of a series of parallel rollers set closely together in a horizontal or slightly inclined supporting frame. In unpowered or gravity-fed systems, the rollers run freely with minimal friction. Products and packs are fed onto the rollers and can be pushed along manually or by items fed by a powered unit stacking up behind them. 

Gravity roller conveyors are set up on an incline, naturally bringing packages and products along the conveyor. Powered rollers are driven by motors to create continuous movement along the conveyor.

Chain conveyors

Chain conveyors come in a variety of designs for different purposes. A common arrangement is of two parallel chains driven by powered sprockets which move rigid platforms or containers along the conveyor. Overhead chain conveyors drive chain along a gantry, and various handling mechanisms attach products or containers to the chain.


Belt conveyors

Belt conveyors consist of a flexible belt driven by powered rollers. The belt supports goods

and transports them along it. Belt trough conveyors are designed with a concave moving belt which is used to move powders and free-flowing solids.


Bucket conveyors

Bucket elevators or conveyors consist of a series of buckets driven by roller chains. These conveyors can convey many kinds of products horizontally and vertically, and are useful for elevating products where floorspace is limited.


Screw conveyors

Screw conveyors are based on a rotating helix in a tube or trough. They are able to move a wide range of goods, including tacky products, horizontally and up moderate inclines.


Find more conveyors from PPMA members

PPMA member companies supply conveyors for every type of processing, packaging and warehousing operation. In addition to the types of conveyor listed above, you can find suppliers of the following types of conveyor by following the links.

Accumulation conveyors hold or stop items on a conveyor system to bunch, or accumulate them in a temporary buffer zone. They are frequently used in pick and pack operations.

Air conveyors transport products on a cushion of low pressure air. They are used to move lighter items such as cartons and empty PET (polyethylene terephthalate) bottles. Air conveyors can support a large number of products without crushing them. 

combining/converging conveyor is an arrangement of conveyors, e.g. slatband, plastic mesh or belt, that combines products from several lanes into a smaller number of lanes, or a purpose-built machine which performs the same function.

Crate conveyors are a type of chain conveyor designed to move plastic crates such as milk crates for the dairy industry.

dividing conveyor is purpose-built to accept a single line of products and divides them into a predetermined number of rows.

Flighted elevators feature protruding perpendicular flights at intervals on the belt to ensure loose materials arepushed along.

An indexing conveyor moves and then stops for a predetermined length of time to allow either a particular task to be performed or to synchronise with a machine.

Keg conveyors are a mainstay of the brewing industry and are designed to move heavy, bulky, beer kegs around breweries and warehouses on roller type conveyors, including gravity rollers.

Magnetic conveyors comprise of a belt conveyor running over a permanent magnet, allowing tin-plated steel cans to be moved at high speed and at steep angles without the cans falling over.

Wire and mesh conveyors are made in the same manner as belt conveyors or belt bend conveyors, but using wire mesh or plastic mesh in place of a plastic belt. These designs are used for a variety of reasons, such as allowing for liquids and small particles to fall through the conveyor for ease of cleaning and improved tracking.

pallet conveyor comprises a series of driven rollers to support and move loaded and unloaded pallets.

Scroll feed conveyors use a helix screw sized to handle bottles, jars and other containers. As the helix turns, the items are pushed along the conveyor surface.

Slat band conveyors comprise a series of slats linked together to form a continuous flat surface. The slats can be in one plane for straight conveyors or in two planes to allow products to be taken round a corner. The main application for slat band conveyors is to convey bottles and cans where very low friction between the slat band and the product is particularly important to prevent the products from falling over.

Spiral conveyors are belt conveyors manufactured in a similar way to a belt bend but arranged in a helix. Spiral conveyors can elevate products like transit packs using a relatively small footprint.

Vibratory conveyors comprise a metal trough or tube set at a slight angle, transporting products by vibrating the metal trough or tube. These conveyors can convey powders and moderately free-flowing solids, and are used frequently in situations where it is desirable to spread out the product in an even layer.

See more PPMA information about conveyors for small and large units and bulk loads.


Machinery Spotlight

Take a look at the processing and packaging machinery in thePPMA Show's Machinery Spotlight, with a variety of different machinery for a range of requirements. Plus, if you're looking for labelling machinery to complement packaging processes, you can find more information and PPMA exhibitors in the labelling machinery sector here.


Conveyors FAQs

What are conveyors and their uses? 

Conveyors move products around in any number of different processing, production, packaging, warehousing and transport environments. They are used to move products through a cycle efficiently and safely. They can feature high levels of mechanisation, and can be fully or partially automated to perform basic and more sophisticated functions. 


What are the different types of conveyors? 

Conveyors are available to handle a very far-reaching range of products, including small, lightweight items and bulky heavy goods. PPMA members offer several dozen types of conveyors, each with applications across a range of products and types of packaging. For potential investment in conveyors, explore PPMA Machinery Finder.


How much does a conveyor cost? 

A simple roller conveyor for moving cartons manually from one part of a small business to another can be purchased for very modest sums, especially if previously owned. For more serious business applications, the costs increase according to the throughput, size and sophistication of the conveyor system. For larger systems, prices can easily go into tens of thousands of pounds or even more. Suppliers will provide detailed quotations for your specific requirements, and give you a range of options suited to your budget. 


How do you select a conveyor system?

Conveyor systems need to be specified for type of product, capacity and other operating requirements. You should take into account future needs, and how your return on investment will be affected by having equipment with sufficient flexibility to handle more than one type or size of product. You should also think through the level of automation required, balancing staff costs against the advantages of fully controlled systems. Most importantly, you need to talk in detail to potential suppliers to understand your options and to identify the optimum conveyor solution for your business.