You might have already guessed from the tone of this site that we are big fans
of the many different inventions that have allowed us to mass produce items
in the way we do today. Anyone shopping at a local Wal-Mart or any other such
store for anything from strainers to rifles can count on discounted prices and
availability due to the invention of processes which aid manufacturing.
One of the most important industrial inventions of any age has got to be the
conveyor belt. You can find these important mechanisms in industries of all
sorts, from pulp mills to auto manufacturing plants. They are an important piece
of manufacturing equipment, plastic moulding, and space age projects
including the assembly of powerful pieces of equipment including the Hubble
If one were to guess at how the conveyor belt came to be invented, it would
be fairly natural to assume they were just a progression on the concept of the
assembly line. After all, the basic idea of any conveyor belt is to move a product
on down the row to the next stop, where the product may be sorted or added to
depending upon the operation.
In fact, though, the conveyor belt was actually invented before the assembly
line was conceived. Remember, conveyor belts are just as much a method of transporting
items from one spot to another as they are anything else. This meant that as
early as the 19th century, various industries were using conveyor belts operated
by hand cranks to take some of the labour out of moving pieces from one spot
The early 20th century would see this primitive form of conveyor belt evolve
and become the intrinsic part of industry that it is today. This progression
came in 1901, when the first conveyor belts which included the steel pulley
and belt was invented by Swedish company Sandvik. This innovation was followed
up by the conveyor belt's introduction into coal mines in 1905, which
is seen as a revolutionizing step within the history of the mining sector. The
belts allowed massive quantities of materials to be moved out of shafts and
onto trucks without additional labour.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, it was Henry Ford who married the concept of the assembly
line and the conveyor belt in 1913. With the system in place to transport pieces
from one station to the next, overhead costs fell and production rose accordingly.
Detroit became the epicentre for the exploitation of this "new"
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Conveyor belts have continued their evolution as well. Today, the days of hand
cranked belts are long gone. Instead, expect to find state of the art conveyor
belts complete with electronic circuit design boards found in every industry
employing these systems. Many companies have recently switched from an old electrically
powered belt design to a pneumatic conveying system which saves both money and
wear on the environment.
All in all, the conveyor belt can definitely be ranked as one of the most important
industrial innovations of all time. They help speed up processes in virtually
every industry, and are still one of the most cost effective pieces of equipment
humans have ever employed.
While not technically a conveyor belt, custom build loading ramps designed to accommodate your specific needs for custom ramp size, load capacity and mobility are used in various work environments. As with many other 19th century inventions these portable loading docks help to simplify the day-to-day task of moving your products safely.