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Better Get Moving: Understanding Conveyor Systems

In your facility, it’s likely that conveyor systems have the important job of getting your product from point A to point B. First used in the late 18th century to transport farm goods and coal, conveyors quickly became an extremely efficient way to move goods safely. Now, most manufacturing and shipping facilities utilize conveyors to some degree.

However, different conveyors styles serve different, and often niche, purposes. To understand which one is best for your business, you first must know the pros, cons, and primary purpose of each conveyor type.

cardboard box on roller conveyor attached to case sealer in packaging facility

Types of Conveyors:

Chute Conveyors

As a type of gravity conveyor, chutes have no moving parts. They funnel products from different levels, relying on gravity to push the product across its smooth surface.


  • Simple

  • Inexpensive

  • Small profile


  • Only good for transporting goods downwards

  • Often in a fixed location — no customization

  • Products need to be heavy enough to counteract friction

Roller Conveyors

Features rolling bars that push products in a forward motion. Can either be powered or gravity fed, which requires manual pushing to move products along.


  • A common choice

  • Moved products easily

  • Cost effect

  • Good for a variety of product sizes and weights


  • Most models are inflexible and locked in one direction

  • Requires gravity or manpower

Wheel Conveyors

Similar in concept to rollers, this style uses small skate wheels to move products.


  • Can come in flexible models

  • Easy to push products along (low friction)


  • Small products could be at risk of falling through wheel gaps

Belt Conveyors

The first ever conveyor designed, belts using a motorized rotating flat surface that carries products. Belts can be made of rubber, leather, or other flexible materials.


  • Extremely effective

  • Motorized action cuts down on labour costs


  • Belts at risk of wearing out

  • Not suitable for heavy products

Accumulation Conveyors

This conveyor type is used primarily to organize and group products for easy management. It typically uses a belt system to carry products and arms or barriers to sort/funnel them.


  • Ideal when dealing with large product quantities

  • Helpful in grouping products together


  • Take up more space than many other conveyor types

Chain Conveyors

Very similar in concept to belt systems, chain conveyors use a continuous chain mesh to move products down the line. Chains can be made of various materials in different styles and sizes.


  • One of the best systems for heavy objects

  • Low maintenance

  • Easy to install


  • High power consumption

Are you unsure of which conveyor system is best suited for your business? Contact a Crawford Packaging Specialist — we’ll conduct a full audit of your packaging system and find the solution that best applies to your needs.