The History of Conveyor Belts

Surprisingly enough, conveyor belts have been in use for hundreds of years. In fact, even as far back as 1795, conveyor belts were used to transport grain for short distances. However, the conveyor belt of the past was nothing like the modern conveyor of today. Ancient conveyors were much simpler, and could not perform like today’s modern conveyors.
Original conveyors had a flat wood surface with a leather, rubber, or canvas belt that traveled over the surface of the conveyor. The conveyors were powered by a series of pulleys and simple gear systems. Once the industrial revolution started in the late 1800s, conveyors were powered by simple machines powered by simple engines.
Conveyors started to gain in popularity when they were first used in automotive construction. Henry Ford was one of the first people to use conveyor systems to build vehicles quickly and efficiently. After his lead, many other factories started using the conveyor systems as well.
It was not until WWII that conveyors received a big jump in technology and use again. For the first time, synthetic materials, like urethane and synthetic rubber were used as the belts on the conveyors. More complicated rotary systems were also used to power the belts, including better rolling systems, the V-belt assembly, and other tricks to make the use of a conveyor belt more efficient.
Today, the conveyor belt is an integral part of any manufacturing process. It is almost impossible to see a factory that does not use a conveyor system for some part of the unit’s manufacturing process. Today’s conveyors are made from a variety of materials, including chain conveyors, urethane conveyors, air-supported conveyors, and many others. The widespread use of these conveyance systems is in part thanks to the original inventors of the system that lived hundreds of years ago, and to all of the inventors since to improved on the design and made it easier to use in everyday life.