Below you’ll find 10 questions about conveyor belts systems which we have answered for you.
1. What different kinds of conveyor belts are there?
Two types of conveyor belts are used in horticulture, for indoor (greenhouse) or outdoor use: one-piece conveyor belts, often permanently installed, and portable belts.
One-piece conveyor belts are often used as primary conveyors and can form part of a network of conveyor belts in the growing area. These conveyor belts are often very long and can be subdivided into two types:
- Conveyor belts with a solid belt (e.g. PVC or PU)
- Conveyor belts with a fine mesh surface.
In addition to these two types of long conveyor belts, portable belts are also available: traditional conveyors that can be dismantled and moved in manageable components without tools. One of the components is fitted with an electric drive and the others are connected to it with a drive shaft.
2. Which pot sizes or trays are the various conveyor belts suitable for?
The pot sizes for which the conveyor belt is suitable depend on the width of the conveyor belt. The type of belt is adapted to suit the type of plant, pot - or even tray - to be transported on it.
3. Does the maximum capacity of conveyors vary?
The capacity of a conveyor belt is a combination of the belt speed, the distance between the products being conveyed, and a continuous supply of products. Belt speed is often variable and is geared towards the desired speed and the stability of the product being conveyed. The spacing between the products depends on the shape and dimensions of the products. Continuity is determined by coordinating related processes, reliability, etc.
4. Do conveyor belts have ergonomic advantages?
In general, the use of conveyor belts alleviates the physical strain on the user. Better working height, no dragging around of trolleys, and no difficult manoeuvres in hard-to-access places.
5. What else do you need in a conveyor belt system apart from conveyor belts?
A network of permanent belts, possibly in combination with portable belts, is referred to as a ‘conveyor belt system’.
In addition to the belts themselves, you also need a control unit. This determines the set-up of the belt system. The control system can be a permanently wired system or a modular, portable, wireless system, or a combination of both.
Bend units are also often needed in a conveyor belt system. These can be powered or not, depending on the stability of the plants.
6. How are conveyor belts combined with other systems and processes in a nursery, i.e. delivery?
A conveyor belt system is usually easy to connect to a potting machine, a cutting machine, a sorting system or a delivery buffer.
7. How much maintenance do conveyor belts need?
This depends on the type of conveyor belt and what it is used for. A conveyor belt with few moving parts needs less maintenance than a portable belt with a lot of moving parts. The conditions in which it is used (temperature and in particular humidity) also impact on this.
8. Do conveyor belts retain their value? How long do conveyor belts last?
How long conveyor belts last depends on how they are used, in what conditions they are used, and whether they are maintained. Portable conveyor belts usually have the highest residual value because they can be used anywhere without technical modification. They are also easy to obtain second-hand. Fixed conveyor belts can often be dismantled and reassembled in a different place, although this affects their residual value.
9. What should you look out for when buying a conveyor belt?
The most important question is: what do I expect from a conveyor belt and what do I want to achieve with it?
As far as the technology is concerned, the number of moving parts, the type of belt material and the expected lifespan are important.
10. How do you calculate the return on your conveyor belts? How many years does it take to recoup the cost?
The payback period of a conveyor belt depends on how it is used. How many times per year is the system used, how much work does it save, does it enable me to respond more quickly at delivery, what does the extra space and an organised greenhouse environment offer me?