FAQs: Conveyor & Automation Systems

Glossary of Terms

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Accumulating Conveyor
A conveyor system designed to allow a product to queue (accumulation). Can done with either lineshaft conveyor, belt under roller conveyor, motorised roller conveyor, gravity conveyor.  Additional devices may be required to complete this function

Aluminium Conveyor
Lightweight and strong the aluminium range includes Belt, lineshaft, motorised roller, belt under roller and gravity.


Ball Table
A combination of roller ball units fitted onto a workstation at a workable height so products to be easily manoeuvred in multiple directions. These are usually part of a gravity based system.

A flexible band/band placed around two or more pulleys to transmit motion or power often seen between motorised rollers or to connect lineshaft rollers with the lineshaft itself. 

Belt Conveyors
Similar to what is found in many supermarkets, products are conveyed using a PVC/PU belt driven by either a motorised drum or a geared motor. Belt conveyors can be either horizonal or used for interfloor conveying, such as decline/inclines.  More specialist belt conveyors are available such as belt bends and strip belt merges.

Belt Under Roller Conveyor
A roller system based on gravity rollers gaining drive from a narrow belt beneath which is in contact with the underside of the rollers. Belt under roller is ideal for medium weight totes/cartons/boxes at high speeds or over long lengths with a single drive unit.

Brake Motor
A safety device used on incline/decline belts which engages when power is shut off to stop the belt moving under its own weight. It is usually fitted on a motor shaft between the motor and a reducer. 

Bright Zinc plate – the standard finish on the majority of rollers


Chain/Belt Transfer Unit
Used for transferring a product (box/tote bin) from one conveyor to another at a right angle.  The belts / chains lift up between the roller pitches, raising the product just above the running surface of the roller and then drives the product off to another waiting conveyor. The drive motion is engaged via drive motor and the lift motion either by pneumatics or electrically operated. 

Chain Conveyor
The product is moved on chains instead of rollers or a belt, often used for pallet/stillage handling.

Chain Drive
The drive power is transmitted to each roller using chains and sprockets. Ideal for heavy products.  

Chain Guard
A protective safety cover for drive or conveyor chains

Chain Roller Conveyor
A variant of roller conveyor, the rollers are powered via attached sprockets driven by a duplex chain and motor gearbox. Ideal for heavy products.

Change of Direction Unit
A driven length of belt conveyor, used to move product onto an incline/decline belt conveyor. Sometimes known as a powered feeder

Conveyor Rollers
Either bright zinc plated steel, stainless steel, Nickel/Chrome plated or rigid PVC manufactured in a range of sizes


DARB – Double Activated Roller Belt

Designed and manufactured by Intralox. The system is based on a modular plastic belt conveyor which features multiple small free spinning angled rollers, beneath a transfer point a powered roller unit lifts and contacts the underside of the free spinning rollers giving them drive to divert the product off the belt.

Decline Conveyor
An interfloor belt conveyor used for transporting products up or down between two levels.   It can be reversible as standard

Degree of Incline
Angle of slope in degrees that an incline conveyor is installed.

Discharge End
Location on the conveyor system at which objects are removed

Divert Unit
Pneumatically or electronically operated using diverting wheels which pivot 45/90° in devices such as a switch sorter.

DOL – (Direct online)
Motor turns on full speed instantly

Drive Unit
Mostly motorgear box units, fitted to lineshaft conveyor, belt conveyor, chain conveyor, pallet conveyor, spiral elevators, vertical elevators


Emergency Stop Switch or E-stop
High visibility switch used to stop the conveyor in an emergency.

Expandable Conveyor
Belt, roller or wheel conveyor that can be extended or shortened to suit operating requirements.


FAT – Factory acceptance test
Testing of machinery while still at the manufacturers facility prior to shipping, this can eliminate issues once installed.

FDS – Functional Design Specification
A document that specifies the operational function and controls architecture that the conveyor system must perform. The FDS is a technical document and contains at a minimum a list of requirements that can be used for development, testing, and client sign-off. The FDS forms the brief the controls software/hardware are designed to.

Filter regulator
Controls the flow of air into a solenoid valve

Flexible Conveyor
Powered or gravity roller or gravity skatewheel. These can be easily compacted to one third of their expanded length and wheeled either in or out of position.

Floor Supports
Adjustable floor mounted support at which the conveyor sits on top. 

FPM –  Feet per minute
One of the Standard measures for conveyor speed

Front line spares
List of critical spares based on high wear or parts more susceptible to damage. These parts will often be detrimental to the conveyor operating.


Gate (lift up gate)
A section of conveyor equipped with a hinge mechanism and gas struts to provide an opening for an a occasional walkway.  Available in both powered roller conveyor and Gravity roller conveyor.

Gravity Roller Conveyor
Gravity Roller conveyor transits products by either a manual push or by placing the conveyor on a decline.

Gravity Rollers
Rollers fitted into Gravity conveyor framework as listed above.

Guard Rail
60mm angle or 150mm channel mounted on top of the conveyor side frame. Used to prevent products falling or being pushed off the conveyor. 


HMI – Human/machine interface 
Commonly a touch sensitive screen mounted on a control panel.


IAT- Initial acceptance test
Once the system is installed an IAT will be run to ensure the system hardware and software is working as per the FDS. Once this is completed, more detailed commissioning testing can commence.

An interfloor belt conveyor used for transporting products up or down between two levels.   It can be reversible as standard

Intermediate Roller
25mm free running roller fitted between 50mm dia. rollers at 75mm pitch to support smaller/unstable loads. 



Limit Switch
Electrical device used to sense product location, often used on elevators.

A 25mm steel bar used to transmit power from a motor gearbox to multiple rollers on lineshaft conveyor.

Lineshaft Conveyor (powered conveyor)
A series of rollers driven via a small polyurethane belt connected to a steel shaft fitted with accumulating spools to allow easy product accumulation.  The shaft is connected and driven from a geared motor.

Long Edge leading
Describes the orientation of which the product travels down the conveyor, long edge leading travels widest side first.


Manual Start Switch
A simple one direction switch used to turn the conveyors on or off.

MCB – (motor circuit breaker)
Protects the motor from overload 

Motor inverter
Used to provide a gradual start and shut down of motor

Micro V-Belt
A belt with a ‘V’ shapes cross section for operating in special grooved pulleys.  

Micro V-Belt Conveyor (poly V)
Using Micro-V belts fitted to specially designed rollers allows the conveyor to transit heavier products. Also ideal for dustier more arduous environments.

Motorised Roller
A roller fitted with its own internal 24 volt DC motor used for zero line pressure and high speed applications. 

Motorised Roller Conveyor
Using motorised roller listed above. Controlled from side mounted drive control cards allows for cost effective zero line pressure with individual speed adjustment and single product or slug release.


Narrow Edge leading
Describes the orientation of which the product travels down the conveyor, narrow edge leading travels shortest side first.

A section of belt conveyor to provide transition from an incline to horizontal or horizontal to incline. 


Pallet Conveyor
Heavy duty roller or chain conveyor to handle a variety of pallet sizes and weight including stillages, IBC, CHEP, EURO etc. Can be inegrated with turntables, transfers, bends, elevators, wrappers, palletisers etc.   

Pallet Turntable
A rotary conveyor mechanism used for changing pallet direction of travel or pallet orientation. 

PLC – Programmable logic controller
An industrial digital field computer used for controlling conveyors and other machinery.  

Pop-Out Roller
A non-driven roller placed at the ends of a belt conveyor, used to help product transfer between the infeed or outfeed of the belt. Also used to reduce the risk of trapping fingers between the end of the belt and the framework.

Powered Belt Bend
A bend conveyor which uses a belt driven by tapered pulleys.

Powered Conveyor
Any type of conveyor which requires electrical power instead of gravity

Powered Feeder
A driven length of belt conveyor, used to move product onto an incline/decline belt conveyor. Sometimes known as a change of direction unit.

Photo Electric Cell (PEC)
Electrical device mounted on the conveyor and is used to sense product location.

Product Footprint
The surface of the of the product that is in contact with the belt or rollers

Pusher Unit
A pneumatically operated device using a pusher arm to divert products 90 degrees from one conveyor to another.

PX – Proximity sensor
A sensor which can detect the presence of a nearby object, commonly used with lift up gates to determine the open/closed status to trigger controls action.


RAMS – Risk assessment and Method Statement
Documents produced by CSL and provided to the customer prior to installation commencing. The documents outline recognised risks and how these can be controlled.

A conveyor that can move product in either direction

RFID – Radio frequency identification
Used for product or tote identification, often for either sortation or tracking.  

Roller Conveyor
A series of rollers supported in a frame at a set pitch which totes/cartons/cases etc are transported manually by gravity or by motors.

Roller Pitch
The distance measured from the centre of one roller to the centre of another. Larger products typically have a larger roller pitch and smaller products have a smaller pitch. 


SAT – site Acceptance test
System testing done once the installation is complete to verify that the system is functioning correctly and to the customers requirements. A lot of CSL customers provide the SAT criteria at the begging of the project.  

SCADA -Supervisory control and data acquisition
A control system architecture that uses computers, networked data communications and graphical user interfaces for high-level process management. Also using other peripheral devices such as programmable logic controllers to interface with the process plant or machinery. The operator interfaces which enable monitoring and the issuing of process commands, such as controller set point changes.

SDS – System Design Specification
A document to outline how the functional and non-functional requirements recorded in the Requirements Document, the preliminary user-oriented functional design recorded in the High Level Technical Design

Side Mounted Drive Unit
The geared motor is mounted on the side of the conveyor.

Skatewheel Conveyor
Plastic or steel skatewheel mounted on an shaft or axle, these are unpowered gravity conveyors

Slave Driven
A conveyor section powered from another conveyor section instead of having its own power.

Slug Mode
Allows all packages to be released together.

A conveyor section to switch products to and from the mainline conveyor. Also known as a mitre section.

Support Stand
Stands or frames used maintain the elevation or alignment of the conveyors. Supports can take the form of hangers, floor supports or brackets.

SV – Solenoid valve
Used with pneumatic systems to control the air movement between conveyor devices

Switch Sorter
A sortation conveyor which can divert different totes/cases/cartons to specific take-away lines. The switch sorter uses a series of powered wheels which can switch direction.

SY Cable type
Steel armoured cable with clear PVC jacket, used for voltage between 300-500v. The clear jacket means signs of deterioration, damage or corrosion can be detected easier.


Tapered Roller Bend
A curved section of roller conveyor fitted with tapered rollers.

Terminal Roller
A roller mounted at the tail end of a belt conveyor, its purpose is to return the belt.

The amount of product moved on a conveyor at a given time.

Total Load
Amount of weight (Kg.) distributed over the entire length of a conveyor.

Steering the belt to hold or maintain a desired path.

A device or series of devices, which uses belts, chains, rollers, skate wheels or diverting wheels, to move products from one conveyor to another.

Conveyor belt with a central or outer fitted strip to improve belt tracking and guiding for belt conveyors. Used especially where products are taken regularly from the side of the conveyor

Tread Plates
Chequer plate steel filler plates used to fill the gaps between rollers on roller conveyor for walk overs or to eliminate gaps.

A rotary mechanism used for transferring objects between conveyors or turning the product’s leading edge. Mostly used on pallet conveyor systems.

Turning Wheel
Wheel mounted on an adjustable bracket to help ensure correct product orientation.


Either sheet metal or plastic and  used to cover the underside of a conveyor section for safety.

URS – User Requirement specification
A document provided by the customer with their expectations of the conveyor system, mainly focusing in on the controls and software. 


Variable Speed Motor
A drive or power transmission mechanism which can have the speed adjusted


WCS- warehouse control system
Software applications that directs the real-time activities within warehouses and distribution centres

Wide Edge leading
Describes the orientation of which the product travels down the conveyor, wide edge leading travels longest side first.

WMS – Warehouse Management system
A software based system designed to support and optimise warehouse management. The systems are used to manage resources and products movement.


YY Cable type
YY is very similar to SY but without the mechanical protection provided by the steel armour but instead in a grey PVC jacket.


Zero Line Pressure Accumulating Conveyor (ZLP)
A type of conveyor designed to have zero build up of pressure between products, ideal for handling a wide range of product sizes and weights. See motorised roller conveyor and micro-V belt conveyor.

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