3 Considerations in Selecting the Right Conveyor for Turns

Posted by Kevin Mauger | Jun 22, 2020 9:45:00 AM

Including turns in your conveyor design is often unavoidable—especially when dealing with cramped spaces or navigating around factory supports and existing equipment. There are a lot of different technologies in the market, all purpose-built for precise reasons. Preventing delays and product damage are the biggest considerations, and the right conveyor will avoid these.

To choose the correct turn conveyor, you must account for the product being handled, the assembly environment, the level of sanitation, and your throughput goals. With that in mind, the conveyor selection guide is an excellent place to start. The guide will help narrow down options based on your priorities. Here are three considerations to make when evaluating your options.



When a sanitary system IS important

Food industry conveyorA sanitary conveyor system, often used in the food handling industry, is essential for preventing contamination during processing or packaging.

In some food industries, it is imperative that all parts of a conveyor meet strict sanitation requirements, including the curves and turns. To be truly sanitary, a conveyor must avoid harboring microorganisms and must permit the sanitation crew to access all areas for a thorough cleaning. It is crucial to reach every nook and cranny to remove deposits and prevent bacteria from growing.


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If your radius conveyor must be built for a sterile or sanitary environment, there are two primary options:


  1. Modular Plastic Belt Conveyors – With belting made from food-grade plastics and with an open design, this conveyor is ideal for sanitary environments. As with all plastic modular belting, it is easy to clean. It comes in many styles of radius belting, which allows for most conveyor design layouts and is available in a variety of sanitary versions.
  2. Fixed Radius Curves:
    • Poly Belt Style Belt Turn Conveyor – This is an elegant solution for sanitary applications involving unpackaged items, trays, or any kind of small or unstable product. The curve radius doesn’t depend on the width of the belt, which means the conveyor maintains its size around tight turns, maximizing throughput. 
    • Metal Belt Curve Conveyor – For a process involving high heat or chemicals, a metal mesh belt is a crucial design option ideal for drying, cooling, or draining a product. A metal belt curve is relatively expensive, but in a harsh sanitary environment, it can be the most durable solution.  
    • Zero TangentZero Tangent Belt Conveyor – This conveyor has plastic modular belting that improves reliability and retains product positioning. There is no need for a straight belt input or exit for the curve. Additionally, this unit handles s-shaped turns. Note that this is a semi-sanitary conveyor and will be suitable in many environments, but not all.

For processes that do not require strict sanitation, we offer industrial (non-sanitary) options for the conveyors mentioned above. 



When maintaining product orientation is important

When a product—such as a box, crate, or pallet—moves along a conveyor it can be important to retain proper orientation for processes such as scanning barcodes or applying labels.

If your conveyor line is straight from start to finish, congratulations! Your product will always face the way you need it to, whether you’re packing, inspecting, or assembling. Unfortunately, not everyone lives in this wonderful (imaginary) straight-line world. These tight turn conveyor options can maintain product orientation throughout a turn. 


90 degree belt turn90 Degree Belt Turn, and Metal Belt Curve – These two conveyors can negotiate turns while maintaining product orientation even with bulk product, as there’s no relative movement between the belt and the product.


Zero Tangent Belt Conveyor – Mentioned above, this conveyor has plastic modular belting that improves reliability and retains product positioning. Like the fixed radius 90 Degree Belt Turn and the Metal Belt Curve, there’s no need for a straight belt input or exit for the curve. Plus, this unit handles s-shaped turns.



When a sanitary solution IS NOT required

There are many more options available for conveyors without strict sanitation requirements. Any of the solutions mentioned above can be built less expensively for non-sanitary environments. However, in those instances, it’s important to consider the chain style when selecting a conveyor.  


Tabletop Conveyors – Low cost, basic conveyor, with quick shipping. Typically this unit is for light and medium-sized loads. They are suitable for package, carton, or case handling.


FlexMove Solutions (Non-Sanitary) 8Modular Conveyors – For a system that adapts to different applications, including sharp turns, the FlexMove system is your best bet. A wide selection of chains, guides, transfers, and support stands allows you to tailor the system to your application. The FlexMove can negotiate horizontal curves, as well as inclines and declines, all powered by a single drive.

A modular conveyor system is useful when your production setup changes. Instead of replacing the whole system, a modular system allows you to simply disassemble and reconfigure the conveyor to fit the new requirements.

Oftentimes a conveyor system needs to multi-task, so it’s handy to have a variety of modular choices that fit together. If easy adaptability to future process changes is important to you, consider a modular FlexMove conveyor from NCC.


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Need help finding a radius conveyor solution?

We have only covered a handful of solutions and applications in this blog post. Click here to see our complete list of conveyor solutions for a variety of products handled and types of applications, like vertical conveying, inspection or accumulating.

Choosing a conveyor to fit both your application and your facility can be daunting. We’d be glad to lend you our expertise. Reach out at info@nccas.com or call 215-721-1900 to speak to one of our friendly representatives.

Topics: Conveyor System Design, Conveyor Equipment

Written by Kevin Mauger

As President, Kevin Mauger leads new business growth and product development strategy to help customers increase profitability. NCC offers business units that provide product handling and integration solutions to a variety of industries including food, packaging, assembly automation and optical labs. Mauger started his career with NCC days after his college graduation in 1994 in the Applications Engineering department. In 2006, he purchased the company, instilled a new philosophy and has grown the company six-times over since. His vision for NCC is to create a positive and inspiring culture for both employees and customers. Mauger is a life-long Pennsylvanian. His childhood home was in Chalfont, PA and he graduated from Central Bucks High School West and attended University of Delaware. He currently resides in Lower Gwynedd, PA with his wife Danielle. He has three children: Kyle (28), Madison (25) and Kelsey (19).

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NCC Automated Systems is a Full Service Automation Systems Integrator with over 30 years of experience. In addition to integrating some of the world’s best automation equipment solutions, we also offer in house mechanical and electrical design and manufacturing. We can provide complete turnkey solutions or just equipment.

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