Conveyor Technologies for Industrial Ovens | ITS TECH TALK
Selecting the right technology for a continuous process conveyor oven requires analysis and expertise
Author: Matt McWhirter, Applications Engineer for ITS Industrial Products Division
Matt received his bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Northern Illinois University and has a background in industrial automation technology.
As more and more companies seek to automate their processes and facilities, a conveyor oven is a small, yet important cog in the wheel of product manufacturing. While batch processing will always have its place, continuous process conveyor ovens are in high demand as manufacturers strive to maximize efficiencies in their production processes. Download this ITS Tech Talk.
There are more than a handful of conveyor types to choose from:
- Belt conveyors
- Chain conveyors
- Roller conveyors (powered, gravity)
- Elevators/Elevating conveyors
- Feed systems (vibratory, centrifugal, etc.)
- Pneumatic conveyors
- Vacuum conveyors
However, many of these conveyor types are not viable solutions in the presence of heat. High process temperatures limit conveyance material options and eventually force drive components (ie: bearings, drive chain and motors) outside the heated zone completely. There are four types of conveyors that are commonly used in heat processing applications; flat wire, woven belt, chain and roller.
Flat Wire Belt Conveyors
- Of the four types described above, flat wire mesh belts are the most popular. Flat wire belts can be used for a wide range of process temperatures and applications, and offer the following advantages:
- High strength-to-weight ratio
- Wide range of belt widths for a wide variety of product sizes
- Easy to clean
- Vibration and shock absorbent
- High open area – preferred in convection applications
- Configurable with attachments (flights, lane dividers, edge guards, etc.)
With an appropriate material selection, flat wire belt conveyors are operable to 1,000°F and beyond.
Woven Wire Belt Conveyors
A woven wire belt offers many of the same advantages as a flat wire belt, but woven wire belts are able to handle higher load capacities than flat wire, are available in more configurations (mesh shapes and sizes), are customizeable, and offer increased surface area for conveyance of smaller parts.
- Higher cost
- Lower open area reduces airflow
- Sometimes requires belt tracking
Woven wire belts are commonly used to move small parts including nuts, bolts, nails and even granular material.
Chain conveyors are typically employed in heavy load applications. Chain conveyors can be designed as a rolling or sliding chain configuration. Chain type selection is highly dependent on temperature, connection type, material selection and lubrication.
There are hundreds of chain styles, many designed specifically for a single industry or application. Attachment-style chains allow for attachment of customized part fixtures.
Advantages of chain conveyors include:
- Ease of maintenance and replacement
- Many available styles
Chain conveyors are a good choice for heavy loads and specialty part sizes. The conveyor oven shown here is used to cure various-sized molded elastomeric couplings. A full cure takes 8-10 hours at 230°F.
Depending on processing temperature, roller conveyors will often be designed with shaft bearings mounted on the outside of the oven/furnace to protect power transmission components (chain, bearings, motors).
Roller conveyors are used in heavy loading applications, and offer flexibility in motion, and accumulation of product. Products are often loaded on a pallet or frame when roller conveyors are utilized.
Selecting the Right Type of Conveyor Starts with Selecting the Right Oven Manufacturer
Because there are many different variables that need to be considered when configuring the right conveyor type for your industrial oven, connecting with a partner that understands heat processing is vital to a successful project. ITS has been designing ovens for over 50 years with thousands of installations across the globe.
Our team will start by asking about your process, including variables like:
- Product weight, geometry
- Process requirements including parts per hour required
- Floorspace requirements
- Control and communication requirements
- How much flexibility are you looking for in terms of processing other products/different rates, future expectations?
As you research manufacturers, be sure to ask for job profiles of completed projects that are similar to your application. Examples of past work and customer testimonials are a great tool to help select the best manufacturer for your project. To help you determine the best conveyor oven for your heat processing application, download the Top 10 Criteria to consider when selecting a Conveyor Oven.
Download this ITS Tech Talk.
To determine the conveyor style that is best for your application, contact ITS sales at 414.672.7700 or firstname.lastname@example.org.