Conveyor belt systems are so commonplace in this day and age that most of us simply take these machines for granted. They sort our mail and recycling, bottle our drinks, package our food, and transport our raw natural materials. We travel on them in airports, put our food on them at the grocery store checkout, and grab sushi from them at restaurants – all the while never giving them a second thought. Yet these devices, which have revolutionized so many companies and industries, actually have quite a long and interesting history. Here’s a quick overview of where they came from and how they got to where they are today.
The origin of conveyor belt systems
While it is tricky to pin down the exact date that conveyor belt systems were invented, the general consensus is that they date back to at least 1892 (although some say the British Navy were using a steam-powered version as far back as 1804 to make biscuits for its sailors!). This was when a man named Thomas Robins began to develop a series of inventions that led to the construction of a conveyor belt system for carrying coal, ores, and other such heavy natural materials in a safer, easier, and more efficient way.
Swiftly following in his footsteps, in 1901, the Swedish company Sandvik invented and started using the steel conveyor belt. In 1905, a man called Richard Sutcliffe produced a conveyor belt system for use in coal mines. Henry Ford introduced the conveyor belt assembly line at his Highland Park, Michigan factory in 1912, and the conveyor industry has continued to expand and develop ever since.
Conveyor belt systems in modern times
Conveyor belt systems have come a long way since those initial rudimentary versions that were used in coal mines and construction industries. When we look at modern conveyors sold by companies such as fluentconveyors.com, everything from the materials they are made from to their structure has been updated. However, they are still used for those same early applications even today, making it easier, safer, and quicker to transport heavy or awkward materials from place to place. These days they do far more than just this, though.
Nowadays, we use conveyor belt systems to carry people and luggage through airports, move food through sushi restaurants and grocery store checkouts, and transport mail through distribution centers. Thanks to their ability to maintain a sterile and hygienic environment, conveyor belt systems can now also be used to bottle drinks, transport raw food, and ingredients through processing lines, and carry pharmaceutical products through packaging lines. By enabling more accurate and efficient sorting of recycling, they are even helping us to look after the natural environment – showing how far these systems have come since their origins in coal mining!
So the next time you step onto a moving walkway or pick something up from a conveyor belt, take a moment to appreciate how much this humble invention has changed the way that we live.