A conveyor roller chain is commonly used to power the conveyor. Much like a bicycle chain, the conveyor roller chain provides power for the conveyor belt on a larger scale. The conveyor requires a chain drive rather than a belt drive to avoid the potential for slippage. The strength of a conveyor roller chain lies in its ability to power a mechanism without slipping under a load or bind. The conveyor drive system typically utilizes a shear key to avoid damaging the drive system or the conveyor in the event the conveyor becomes stuck.
Roller chain is used on most sprocket applications where strength and long life are desired. The roller design allows the chain to roll off of the sprocket teeth without causing the wear that is inherent with a simple link chain. Providing long life through reducing friction is coupled with the chain's ability to retain lubrication. Some of the best types of conveyor roller chain also include small rubber O-rings in each link to add even more lubrication retention to the chain. Roller chain is sized by use of numbers and must use a matching, sized sprocket set in order to avoid damage to the chain and the sprockets.
The conveyor roller chain can be used to power a conveyor in one of two methods: by powering a drive axle or drum, or by being attached to the conveyor directly. The most common method involves the conveyor roller chain powering a drive axle to turn a rubber or canvas conveyor belt. In this application, the conveyor is stretched between two or more axles with roller or slide-supports in between. The axles have a sprocket attached to one end with a roller chain leading to a drive motor, which is typically electric or hydraulically-powered.
With some conveyor designs, the roller chain is directly attached to the conveyer through the use of small steel brackets. The chain rides over drive sprockets that provide power to keep the conveyor in motion. This design is used on severe-duty conveyors, which are used to carry extreme amounts of weight over long distances, as well as conveyor systems that are subject to use in wet environments. The conveyor roller chain requires periodic maintenance, which typically consists of cleaning, tightening and oiling. If a chain is too long or short, the length can be adjusted by the removal or addition of chain links until the desired length is achieved.