Chain Conveyors

Chain conveyors, not to be confused with chain-driven belt conveyors, use gear-driven chains to move materials along a conveyor path. Depending on the design these conveyors can move large, heavy objects such as boxes and pallets, or they can move varous kinds of loose material with specialized paddles (see second image of gallery).

Operating Principle

The operating principle is simple; chain is driven by a series of motorized gears or sprockets that are mounted on a conveyor path. As the chain moves, it pulls the materials along with it. Large objects, such as pallets, are typically placed on a series of rollers or a belt that sits on top of the conveyor bed. Loose material is fed into an enclosed chamber and moved by paddles, which are chosed based on the properties of the materials.



For large objects, chains are needed because any other design would quickly break or wear. For bulk material, chains conveyors can move a lot of material in a small space. For example, our grain handling division sometimes encounter brewers who want a ~95% yield on their grain because of the impacts on product quality. Chain conveyors allow them to move large amounts of grain quickly and gently, without taking up the space of a belt conveyor.


For certain high-temperature or abraisive products, chain is the only solution.


Chain conveyors are also relatively versatile as producers can swap the paddle type when changing product on a line without needing a whole new conveyor.

They can also go up slopes. Whether as an extra-sturdy version of cleated belt conveyors in an open design or with paddles in a closed one, either design type could take certain products up inclines as steep as 90 degrees.

Dust-Tight (If Needed)

Another major benefit is afforded by the closed designs, which allow transportation of large amounts of material without dust from the product entering the environment, and without dust from the environment entering the product.



On the other hand, chain conveyors are not the best choice for situations where the materials being moved are lightweight or fragile. They also may not be the best choice for situations where the materials need to be moved in multiple directions or at varying speeds.


Another drawback of chain conveyors in open designs is that they can be noisy. The chain and gears or sprockets used to drive the conveyor can create a significant amount of noise, which can be disruptive in some settings. In bulk settings, however, when the chain is full of grain or other noise-dampening products, this effect is mitigated.

(Relatively) Hard To Maintain

Another drawback is that chain conveyors can be relatively difficult to maintain, particularly in closed designs. Lubricating and inspecting the chain and gears/sprockets can be a time-consuming and labor-intensive process. Applications that use enclosed chain conveyors especially can benefit from using an outside service group such as ABM. Chain conveyors should be inspected on a schedule because due to their ruggedness they will continue to run even when they should not be run.

To find out which type is best for you, or to find out if chain conveyors are even appropriate for your application, give us a call or fill out the form below. We’ve solved problems for tens or hundreds of products just like yours.