An apron conveyor is a type of conveyor made from individual apron plates that are linked together with hinges on its underside, thus creating a looped carrying surface where materials can be placed. It plays a vital part in several industries by being used to move different materials from one location to another. This type of conveyor is used to deliver a large number of materials across several phases of production and is particularly useful for transport of huge and heavy materials.
Many industries consider apron conveyors to be a lifeline in their industry, including manufacturing, agricultural, and chemical industries. In the manufacturing industry, these conveyors are used to move materials across different sections during the manufacturing process; in the agricultural industry, they are used to deliver grains. Apron belts can be made to have walls that can ideal for moving materials with no containers, such as feed and gravel. In the chemical industry, apron belts are used to move hazardous materials that prevent workers from handling them.
An apron conveyor works much like the tracks of a battle tank. Individual apron plates overlap and are linked together to form a closed belt or chain. A mechanism, usually composed of several metal rollers, is placed inside the conveyor belt.
Some rollers contain pins or teeth that hook into the holes or grooves built under the apron plates. When the rollers turn, the teeth that are hooked to the plates move, which then moves the apron conveyor belt along the rollers. This action is similar to when a sprocket moves a bicycle chain when the pedals are pushed. The operator can adjust the speed and direction of the conveyor through the mechanism. Since the apron conveyor belt forms a loop, it can work continuously as long as the roller mechanism turns.
There are several advantages of using apron conveyors. This conveyor can be adjusted to any length by changing the number of plates. Maintenance and repair are also easier. When a part of the conveyor breaks, the damaged plates can be removed and replaced instead of the whole conveyor, which saves the operator time and cost.
Apron conveyors made from high grade steel are useful for handling abrasive materials, such as rocks and granules. Walls and overlap in the apron plates ensure minimal material loss, especially when transporting grains and detritus. Mainly used for industrial purposes, these conveyors are made to withstand tremendous weight, heat, and continuous operation. The conveyor can be treated with special coatings to achieve a desired surface, such as friction or elasticity. Apron conveyors, however, are not recommended for use in the food industry since there is risk of contamination from the conveyor surface.