Modular Conveyor Belts – Everything You Need to Know

What are Modular Conveyor Belts?

Modular conveyor belts are a belting solution that is used in applications and industries where curves are needed within the belting.

This is traditionally a logistical requirement to ensure efficient use of space and facilities around the conveyor belt.

Furthermore, the modular belt uses positive drive to move the conveyor forward rather than using friction as a means of pulling the belt, like traditional conveyor belts use.

The modular conveyor belt uses sprockets underneath the belt to help it move forward. The key here is in the design of the belt to ensure the right number of sprockets are used to fit the belts requirements and ensure optimal performance.

What are Modular Conveyor Belts Made from?

Modular belts (often referred to as ‘Radius belts’, are made using segmented pieces of treated plastics that are connected together with hinges and rods.

The purpose of this is to allow the conveyor belt to run smoothly around corners without collapsing along the curves of the belt.

Modular conveyor belts are made this way for food and chemical industries. This belt material is easy to maintain and clean, making it very low maintenance.

Due to the construction of the modular belt, should a segment of the belt break, it is extremely efficient in fixing. The broken segment is removed from the belt, and a new segment added. This ensures the belt is low cost to maintain and does not need to be fully replaced should a piece of it break.

Modular Belt Plastic Types

As with any conveyor belt, the environment and requirements from the belt itself will determine the material used. Plastic module belts are no different. For example, the requirement for a post-oven biscuit production modular belt will be different to that of a plastic modular belt that is needed for cold chemical production and conveying.

Therefore, it’s important as the customer that you known your true requirements prior to engaging a modular belting designer. The types of plastic and material traditional used in modular conveyor belting is:

Polyproplene

This material is used for belts that may be used in extremely hot temperatures of up to 100’C. The hardness of this material creates a strong pulling force, which is great for conveying heavier loads as it drives the belt forward.

Additionally, the Polyproplene belt has a strong resistance to chemicals, so cleaning and wipe down should be relatively easy to the belt operator.

Polycetal

This is the ‘all-rounder’ of plastic belt types. Typically strong, and can work in extreme temperatures at both ends of the spectrum; be it super cold, or extremely hot. 

This material is again, typically hard, and has great pulling force, but it also has a reduced friction characteristic, which provides support to the rest of the conveyor belt and the product conveyed.

However, this belt is traditionally sensitive to impact, and can be damaged easier than other plastic module belts.

Polyethylene

As a belt that is used in colder temperatures, this belting material also has a strength resistance to impact and blows. The belt can be used in areas of up to -75’C, and due to it’s strength resistance to impact, the belt has a much longer life-span to it’s counter parts.

What Industries Use Modular Conveyor Belts?

Modular conveyor belts are used in an array of industries due to their ability to be used in a range of temperatures, climates and manufacturing units. Typically modular belts are used in:

Biscuit Manufacturing

Towards the end of the cooling phase of biscuit production, where the biscuits have been packaged and are being distributed to lorries etc. to be shipped to customers, modular belting is used to move the heavy boxes to their final destination.

Cooling Systems

Across all industries that require cooling belts, the modular belting solution can be used in tandem with woven belting to help cool elements manufactured. Typically Polycetal and polyproplene belts are used in cooling systems as they posses a much higher performance in extremely cold temperatures.

Chemical Production

Again, due to their ability to perform in extreme environments, and their resistance to chemical contamination, and abrasion, modular belting is seen as the ideal solution for chemical and medical production. The belt is often used in conveyor systems within pharmaceutical, and chemical industries.

Food Production

Plastic module belts have to be FDA approved in order to be used in food production. This is to ensure there is no contamination when the food is being processed and manufactured through the conveyor line.

Polyethylene, and Polyproplene belting is traditionally the go-to plastic module belt for food production due to their ability to not contaminate the food, however, polycetal is not usually recommended.

Nylon material can be used in modular conveyor belts, too, and is FDA approved.

Nylon can be used in both warm and cold areas as it performs in temperatures ranging from -45’C to 160’C.

Nylon is a soft material with a good pulling force, and a high impact strength as well as great chemical resistance.

Key Characteristics of Modular Conveyor Belts

Pulling Force

The pulling force is the force distribution throughout the belt and how power is shifted between curves to maintain an even force throughout the belt. This ensures there are no problems throughout the conveyor belt during production. 

Impact Strength

Belts that have a high impact strength are preferred due to their ability to absorb impact. A belt that can absorb blunt force or impact from materials traditionally has a longer lifespan than belts with a low impact strength. Modular belts that have a high impact strength tend to be used ahead of modular conveyor belts that do not posses high impact strength.

Strength

Strength is different to impact strength. By strength, this is meant as the strength by which the belt can use the force to conveyor heavy loads around the conveyor effectively and efficiently without causing collapses, or stoppages.

Resistance to Temperature

Modular conveyor belts can perform in very hot and cold temperatures due to the materials used, making them a first choice for both hot and cold installations.

Traditionally, modular conveyor belts use a combination of these our key characteristics with the materials they use to produce the conveyor belts that can perform in harsh environments to maximum capacity.

What Does Pulling Force Mean?

There is a serious science behind the design of a modular belt. 

In a traditionally straight conveyor, the pulling force will be equally distributed throughout the entire belt ensuring no transversal force occurs along the belt.

In modular conveyor belts this is an entirely different prospect due to the belts curvature. In a radius belt, when the belt is pulled through a curve, the rows of the belt can come together causing a collapse of the transfer of force isn’t shifted correctly. If this were to happen, the traction force of the belt would need to be shifted to the outer curve to counteract the collapse of the inner curve.

The timing of this shift of force is key to ensuring a smooth conveyor solution and typically, the shift has started before the curve has begun to further safeguard the curve from collapsing.

The outer links of the modular belt carry the tangential force, this causes the radial force to take place along the curved section of the belting.  As the belt weight and carry load (product being conveyed) must be pulled, the highest traction force occurs at the the end of the belt. 

The strength of the modular belt will always be in the ‘straight pull’, therefore a conveyor designed with curves earlier on in the belt solution finalized with a straight track is always the preferred solution for the most effective radius belts.

Pro's of Using Modular Conveyor Belts

The use of positive drive means the modular belt is a more ‘user-friendly’ and flexible conveyor solution. Plastic modular belting is a low-tension solution, allowing the use of less pulley’s throughout the belt.

Furthermore, there is much more freedom in the design of a modular conveyor belt. For engineers and belting designers, the freedom of the modular belt is that it can, in theory, be wider than it is long and can maintain tracking in the process.

Historically, this belting type has been used to navigate curves and corners, and does so well when designed correctly; there isn’t another belting solution that can do this as well, for the same price. Woven belting can be manufactured to navigate curves similarly to Modular conveyors, however, this is cost-prohibitive in relation to the modular belt solution.

Finally, the belt is easy to maintain, clean and fix. This makes the belt an agile proposition and one many industry experts recommend given the requirements of the solution.

Biscuit Conveyor Belts – Everything You Need to Know

What is a Biscuit Conveyor Belt?

Biscuit conveyor belts are a form of conveyor belt that is used in the manufacturing and production of biscuits and crackers. 

There are two forms of biscuit conveyor belts; the woven conveyor belt; which is used pre-oven and post-oven, and the modular conveyor belt; which is used for transportation and tracking.

What are Biscuit Conveyor Belts Made from?

Modular conveyor belts that are used solely in transporting the packaging of the biscuit are made from modular plastic blocks. The modular conveyor belt is a fantastic solution, because should a block break, the belt is constructed in a way that means only the block needs to be replaced, and not the whole conveyor belt. This makes the modular conveyor belt an extreely cost-effective solution.

Woven conveyor belts that are used for the production of biscuits and crackers are made using either one of three materials, or a blend of each. This depends on the requirement from the belt. 

Examples of requirements for biscuit conveyor belting may be:

Moisture Retention

Depending on the moisture regain reqired from the belt, the conveyor belt will vary from cotton to polyester. Cotton has a stronger moisture regain than both polyester and nylon belting. This makes cotton a better conveyor belt material for biscuits and crackers with a denser base. 

Durability

Nylon conveyor belting is known to be more durable, as it can be chemically manipulated. However, in food manufacturing this ‘coating’ treatment must be done in accordance with FDA approval to ensure the belting doesn’t contaminate the biscuit. 

Polyester when treated with a coating, is also a very durable conveyor belt solution, which is highly durable against abrasion and tear. The problem lies with polyester in it’s inability to absorb vegetable fats, which makes the material a more suitable belt for less dense biscuits. 

Air Permeability

Air permeability is about as much the material as it is the weave, do a degree. However, it is known that cotton belting provides a smoother air transition through the weave. This allows for more efficient cooling of the base of the biscuit/cracker, which positively impacts the quality of the biscuit delivered.

Lifespan

Both cotton, nylon and even polyester have strong lifespans, especially when maintained well, and in the right working environment. 

The longest lifespan is the nylon based industrial belt, closely followed by cotton. 

A strong conveyor belt system that is looked after correctly will last around 18+ months, and sometimes even longer. 

The Process of Manufacturing Biscuits Using Conveyor Belts

Biscuits all over the world are made using biscuit conveyor belts. Shortbreads, crackers, bourbons, custard creams and more. The biscuit you might be eating while reading this article with your cup of tea or coffee has a high possibility of being manufactured using a conveyor belt system.

Depending on the stage of the biscuit manufacturing process, various conveyor belting systems are used. In fact, the biscuit manufacturing process can be broken down into four key stages of production:

1) Pre-Oven stage – Rotary Moulder section.
2) Oven Stage – Here due to sever heating only wire mesh belts are used
3) Post Oven – The Cooling Section
4) Packing Section.

Stage One - Pre-Oven Stage

Most biscuits are made using a soft-dough. During stage one of the biscuit production process rotary mouldar belting, and cotton belts are used. 

During this stage, the steamed or boiled dough (referred to as ‘kibbled dough’) is put through a dough-hopper. The machine usually determines the piece weight per biscuit. 

This process usually a castellated forcing roll and molding roll to press the dough together with the engraved molding roll, giving the biscuit it’s famous engraved design (think Oreo, Malted Milk’s, McVities etc.)

Next, the woven endless extraction web is pressed against the molding using a rubber covered roll, and the  dough biscuits are removed from the engraved impressions in the molding roll.

The dough pieces are then passed onto a panning web with a nose form from the molder roll, and move on to the next stage of the biscuit production process.

Traditionally, cotton conveyor belts have been used throughout this process due to their effective ply. The cotton belting is used in both stage one and stage three of the biscuit conveyor belt solution. 

Stage Two - Oven/Baking Stage

During the the baking stage of the biscuit production process, different biscuits will be cooked at varying temperatures inside a ‘tunnel oven’. These temperatures are set based on desired softness, color and texture of biscuit depending on the grain used to create the dough. Depending on the type of oven, and amount of zones used, the number of extraction points and biscuit size can also vary.

During this process the dough may go through a number of heating methods, to facilitate baking, and the ovens will manage the moisture removal internally, before passing the cookies and biscuits onto metal wire mesh for the next stage of the biscuit manufacturing process.

By the end of the bake the biscuit produced will have changed it’s moisture content, density, shape, color.

Stage Three Post-Oven - The Cooling Section

As the biscuit is finished baking, it needs to cool, and be ready for handling. Therefore, it is placed back onto a cotton conveyor belt, or, in some cases, a woven air slide belt

These types of woven conveyor belts are typically used as they help aid the cooling process of the biscuit manufacturing much quicker than other conveyor belts would. This is due to their air permeability (the ability the belt has to use it’s ply to allow air to pass through the bottom of the belt, cooling the bottom of the biscuit as well as the revealed top of the biscuit being subject to fan air within a convection tunnel. 

Later on in the cooling stage of biscuit production, the hardened, yet still hot biscuit is moved onto a modular conveyor belt and the process of removing burnt and broken biscuits is formed before moving into the final stage of biscuit production, the packaging section. 

Stage Four - Packing Section

The packing stage of biscuit production needn’t require a cotton conveyor belt, and usually further utilises the modular conveyor belt.
 
As the biscuits are moved into the packaging phase trained staff then take the biscuits and move them into the required packaging based on the production and customer needs. 
 
The biscuits are boxed and stored away, ready for delivery to supermarkets, and online buyers.

Biscuit Conveyor Belt Manufacturers

Biscuit conveyor belt manufacturers in India will usually source materials such as British cotton, and manufacture in Asia before moving the belt to the required location. This is not an uncommon practice, and any conveyor belt manufacturer worth their grain of salt will have a robust and efficient logistics and delivery plan for their belting. 

Conveyor belt manufacturers, like ClipOn ship to biscuit manufacturing companies in Egypt, Africa, India, China, the UK and America. 

When dealing with a biscuit belt manufacturer, ensure you receive first-in-class consultation and analysis of your current situation before engaging in a conveyor belt solution. Again, the best conveyor belt manufacturers provide consultation, analysis of your work area, and conveyor belt solution, and requirements before providing a final solution.

Biscuit Conveyor Belts to Choose from...

Cotton Conveyor Belts are our specialty, and can be used across all food production verticals due to their durability and long-life span.

Air Slide Belts are used specifically in the cooling section of the biscuit manufacturing processes as air travels through the underneath ply.

Modular belts are robust belting solutions that are traditionally used during advanced cooling and packaging stages.

Solid Heavy Duty Belt

Our in house specialty renders us the unique ability to form heavy conveyor belts. Belts from 6mm to 16mm, and in 4000 GSM to 14000 GSM . These belts can endure pressure upto 75 Mpa with  coeffecicient of friction greater than 0.4. Our belts can be made with blended yarns that we would design to ensure your material would be transported seamlessly.

Other Industries we Serve...

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Conveyor Belts and Their Usages

What are Conveyor Belts?

Conveyor belts are various types of industrial belting that are used solely to transport materials and goods from one area to another. There is often a confusion between conveyor belts and machine belts, with the latter being used to transmit energy.

The purpose of the conveyor belt system is to improve efficiency levels and productivity across business and industry. Additionally, the use of belting systems can reduce labor costs, and help improve companies bottom line over time.

Due to the materials flexible and webbing, conveyor belts are used in both light and heavy duty transportation. These belts are also highly regarded as they’re able to change direction and elevation depending on the conveying system customers require.

Which Industries are Conveyor Belts Used In?

Conveyor belts are used in almost every industry you could think of. From manufacturing to retail, health and fitness to transportation, and much more. The most common industries and purposes of the conveyor belt system are:

Pneumatic Conveying

Pneumatic conveying is system designed to move powdered materials from one destination to another, using a specific type of conveyor belt.

The airslide conveyor belt uses air or gas to pass through tiny holes embedded within its webbing that pushes the powdered material along the conveying system. 

Manufacturing

Made to improve efficiency, and reduce cost to the business, traditional conveyor belts are used as part of the assembly line. There are various types of materials used depending on the industry and requirements, but typically, the manufacturing industry used cotton, PVC, rubber, neoprene, urethane and polyester conveyor belting systems.

Belts used for manufacturing industries are often coated to ensure longevity and resistance to liquids and abrasions or general wear and tear.

Retail

Especially, in food shopping, conveyor belts are one of the most important things within the supermarket. What might be taken for granted is actually a solution that ensures efficient flow of customers and their food through payment checkout. The retail conveyor belts (similarly to belts for manufacturing), are designed to be robust, and can repel water due to their coating.

Additionally, they too are manufactured for longevity, due to the continuous pressure and abrasions from products on the assembly line. These conveyor belts have a strong life expectancy.

Health and Fitness

Similarly to both belts for manufacturing and retail, the belts used in health and fitness need to be adverse to abrasion. Specifically, the belts used in health and fitness are within the cardio-section of the gym. The treadmill uses a traditional endless seam conveyor belt solution, and is designed for longevity against wear and tear (constant running).

Belts for health and fitness take the some of the biggest impacts across all conveyor belt industries.

Chemical and Pharmaceutical

The specific belts used within this industry is usually Urethane or Thermoplastic conveyor belts. These belts are traditionally very hygienic (FDA approved), and easy to maintain, which makes them perfect for the pharmaceutical industry.

Additionally, these belts are non-absorbent, which, ensures any spillage does not contaminate the belting or product/medicine being transported.

Food Manufacturing and Transportation

Food manufacturing, packaging and transportation industries also use belting. These conveyor belts are used in high-temperature and are robust to ensure there is no damage during the manufacturing of the food. Specific food industries that using belting are baking and cooking.

The biscuit manufacturing industry is one of the main drivers for using conveyor belting solutions during its manufacturing and transportation phases.

Specifically, cotton conveyor belts are the main material, and a key conveyor belt that is used in biscuit production and manufacturing.

The cotton belt is used during the moulding process and forms the core component of the rotary moulder belt.

Different Types of Conveyor Belts

Depending on the conveyor belt solution a manufacturer requires, there are an array of belting solutions that are made bespoke to order. These are:

Cotton Conveyor Belts

Cotton conveyor belts are of the most widely used belting solutions across the globe. As previously mentioned, solid woven belts are often used in baking and food transportation, as well as agricultural materials and/or simply moving boxes around.

These belts can be open roll, and in pure endless forms (as can many other types of belts), which means they have no splice or seem and are woven to be ‘endless’.

Thermoplastic Conveyor Belts

Thermoplastic conveyor belts are developed through heating and cooling methods to create robust, hygienic and abrasive-free conveyor belts.

Thermoplastic belts come in many forms of plastic, from polyethylene (PE), polyinyl chloride (PVC), polyester and more.

These belts are predominantly used within the pharmaceutical industry, and food industry. They are treated with coating to work in high-temperatures; ranging from anything between 80’C to 160’C, with a thickness of up to 30mm, and a hardness of up to 50shA depending on the requirements on the belt solution.

More specifically, these types of belts must be Food Grade Certified by SGS under the US FDA Norms to be used in food production and conveying.

Woven Synthetic Conveyor Belts

Woven synthetic conveyor belts are made with various density and air permeability levels due to both their top and underside coating.

The coatings are referred to as ‘polymers’, and are made of varying materials depending on the suitability for the belt within its application.The coating is made for multiple reasons such as; strength, durability, longevity, and/or impact resistance.

These belts are used in heavier conveying systems, and provide a high-grip and ‘non-fray’ solution, which is perfect for food conveying industries.

Air Slide Belts

Air Slide belts are used in close conveyor systems which form a key component of pneumatic conveyors. These are a woven type of belt that uses bespoke permeable materials to allow low-pressure air beneath the air slide.

This causes ‘air activated gravity’ which allows powder etc. to be conveyed through the closed conveyor system seamlessly and efficiently.

Air Slide conveyor belts are traditionally used in pneumatic conveying solutions due to their permeability, and heavy duty properties such as; durability, strength and long-life-cycle.

Modular Conveyor Belts

Modular belts are made with long plastic plastic segments, and are used in heavy duty conveying, in areas where sometimes traditional belting solutions may falter. This is due to potential tear and fraying during the conveying process.

Modular plastic belts do not suffer from this problem, and are seen as the correct solution for heavy duty and high-pressure conveying purposes.

Furthermore, the modular belt is highly regarded due to its agility. If a piece of the modular belt breaks, it is easy to replace, and is also cost-efficient. This makes the modular belt a worth conveying solution for manufacturers transporting heavy duty goods.

Where Can You Get Conveyor Belts From?

You can find conveyor belt manufacturers across the globe. More specifically, the best manufacturers are found across the Asian and African continents. ClipOn is based in India, however, we have partners across Africa and Asia, which allows us to reach customers in areas such as Egypt, Bangladesh, India, South Africa, China and more, very efficiently. ClipOn also delivers bespoke conveying solutions to European and Western countries to order.

The beauty of working with experienced, and highly-regarded conveyor belt solution providers is ten-fold. Each conveyor belt provider should showcase technical expertise to provide pre-treatment and a strong quality assurance programme. Based on our experience, we recommend working with manufacturers who provide 48 hour maximum response times.

Working with providers such as ClipOn ensures this. Furthermore, ClipOn ensures FDA approved belting, over 25 years experience and research. All belting receives in-house testing which ensures all products are tested twice, using materials that are sourced directly from yarn, to ensure the highest quality available.

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