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Who Invented The Conveyor Belt?

May. 14, 2021

Before we understand how conveyor belts are used and look at the industry for conveyor belts, let us first highlight the size of the conveyor belt market.

The market size for conveyor belts was recorded at $4 billion in 2018 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 3.5%. Therefore, I don't see belt conveyors being shipped anywhere anytime soon. So, let's look at where they come from and how they are used in the world today.

Who invented the conveyor belt?

The conveyor belt was invented by a gentleman named Thomas Robins, who in 1892 began a series of inventions that led to the first conveyor belt being used to carry natural resources. The cost and time benefits of using conveyor belts in business operations were then quickly seen, so belts were quickly modified and developed to be used in a variety of applications.

Then in 1901, Sandvik invented the steel conveyor belt, which was able to handle heavier loads and was used in a variety of industries.

In 1905, Richard Sutcliffe invented the first conveyor belt for coal mining, which revolutionized the mining industry due to the increased loads and conveying speeds.

Patterned Conveyor Belt


Patterned Conveyor Belt

Henry Ford introduced the conveyor belt assembly line at Ford Motor Company's Michigan plant in Michigan, revolutionizing the industry again by rapidly increasing production.

What can a belt conveyor do?

The main goal of conveyors is to move products or objects from A to B, usually within close proximity (e.g., within a distribution center), at a higher frequency and faster speed than can be accomplished manually.

Today, different types of conveyor belts have been created for transporting different types of materials. Examples of these conveyor belts are PVC and rubber.

Since a conveyor belt is specially manufactured, it has a wide variety of functions. As they can be built, designed and operated to carry a range of products and items. For example, you may need a system for moving hazardous waste between sections of a waste control center, and a belt conveyor would be ideal for this purpose.

Conveyor Belts

Conveyor belts can move items in a straight line, around corners, sort, move heavy items, tilt items between floors and drop them. Depending on the speed of the system and the number of meters per second it runs, it can move items faster or slower between points, or faster or slower in one area and in another (for example, when an item needs to be passed) for manual inspection or sorting.


Conveyor belts are not limited to commercial use only. You may have recently been on an escalator; this is the location used to gradually move steps as you gain a foothold and step up to new heights. Another example is when you are in the checkout queue at your local supermarket and place items on the belt for scanning.


Conveyor belts are used for baggage handling systems and the longest conveyor system in an airport is at Dubai International Airport with a range of 39 miles, although it combines belt and pallet conveyors.

There are conveyor systems that can move loads of up to 960 tons per hour between multiple plants. Imagine how many people you need to carry per hour over a 40 mile return distance.



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