Amazing Facts About Conveyor Belts

As soon as the Industrial Revolution kicked in back in the 18th Century, people wanted to speed up the production of goods and make it more efficient. The invention of the conveyor belt was a serious turning point in this process, as it speeded up the movement of materials and finished items and reduced the workload of the humans around it. Here are some interesting facts about this most ubiquitous piece of manufacturing equipment.

The first evidence of a conveyor belt was back in 1795

We don’t know exactly when the first belts were devised and invented, but the first written evidence dates back to 1795 when an ‘…endless strip of thin pliant leather that goes through two pulleys…’ was described by American inventor Oliver Evans. The tech has certainly come a long way since then, especially if you look at the cutting-edge belts produced by companies like Renold.com.

The world’s longest belt

The longest belt in the world is 35km in length and is used to transport limestone. This belt crosses the border between Bangladesh and India. It’s possible to connect different conveyors together, too, like the system used to transport phosphate ore 100km across the Western Sahara; each belt is around 7km in length but joined up, they’re visible from space!

The world’s strongest belt

From those first strips of pliable leather or cotton, belts have got longer, faster and stronger. The strongest belts in the world are found in Chilean copper mines. These belts have a breaking strength of around 15,000kN, way stronger than any belts found anywhere else. If 15,000kN seems like just a number, then picture it this way – in order to break the belt, almost 25,000 people would need to clamber up onto it (albeit against health and safety advice!) at once.

The world’s fastest conveyor belt

Although most conveyor belt manufacturers tend to produce belts that travel fairly slowly so that items and materials don’t go flying all over the place, there are some pretty zippy belts around. A lignite mining company in Germany uses belts that travel at 15 metres per second, or 900 metres a minute.

The weirdest use for any conveyor belt in the world

In general, conveyor belts are designed for straightforward tasks within the manufacturing industry. However, a team of engineers led by Dermot Although conveyor belts are useful, they’re not the most exciting or frivolous machines in the world, it has to be said. However, some engineers, it seems, actually have a sense of fun! A team led by Dermot Doyle of London’s Helix design production designed a conveyor belt that can make a pancake in under a minute!

The team spent 200 hours designing the Wallace and Gromit-style contraption and a further 100 hours testing it out. A hen (sat on a luxury throne, no less) lays an egg and that starts the whole thing off. The egg travels down a chute before being broken by robotic arms into a bowl. The bowl travels to a mixer to receive the other ingredients, which are whipped into batter then poured into a frying pan. This pan cooks and flips the pancake, which is then moved to a plate by another robotic arm.