A package conveyor is a piece of industrial equipment often used in warehouses or shipping facilities to move packages of various sizes from one location within the factory or warehouse to another. Unlike some other conveyor systems, the package conveyor is designed specifically for the purpose of moving packages that do not feature any loose ends that can be caught in conveyor belts or rollers. Three basic types of conveyors exist for this application: powered systems, unpowered systems, and a combination of the two systems. Belts and rollers are the two most common methods of moving the items.
An unpowered gravity package conveyor will feature a series of metal cylinders or rollers fixed on axles between the conveyor frame. The packages placed on this conveyor system can be pushed along the track, and the entire conveyor system may be sloped downward so gravity will pull the packages along. Retarders are sometimes placed along the track of the package conveyor to slow the packages at key points along the system. This prevents packages from gaining too much speed and potentially leaving the track, colliding with other packages, or colliding with workers standing near the conveyor. Retarders are essentially metal plates mounted between series of rollers. The friction from the metal plates will effectively slow the packages.
Powered package conveyor systems often feature a belt or a series of belts to move packages along. The belts rotate around a series of cylinders, some of which are powered by the motor, and some of which provide tension to the belt to keep it from slipping or otherwise becoming damaged. Belt systems are effective because they can prevent loose packaging from getting caught in the cylinders, and they are generally easy to tension.
Some systems combine gravity-powered roller conveyors with powered belt conveyors. These systems can be somewhat complex, and components known as transfers may be necessary to ensure packages transfer smoothly from one system to the other. The packages can get caught between the gravity rollers and the moving conveyor belt, potentially leading to damage to the package; transfers provide smooth surfaces over which the packages can travel to prevent such damage. The placement of each type of package conveyor system in relation to each other will vary according to the layout of the particular facility in which the entire conveyor system is used. Sometimes it is necessary to plan custom conveyor systems for a company to work around existing obstacles.