The Different Types and Functions of Idler Rollers

June 19, 2019

Remember, a conveyor belt isn’t an endless strip. Quite the opposite, it’s a flexible but tough loop. Topside, the ribbon carries its load on large pulleys. On the underside, tail and head pulleys give way and idler pulleys take up the slack. At least, that’s how the return pulley idlers operate. For the other pulleys in this class, please, keep on reading.

Checking Out Troughing Idlers

Arranged in a vaguely U-shaped configuration, three different rollers cradle the belt on the carrying side. There’s a single long roller on the bottom of this idler, then there are two shorter, angularly aligned rollers bookending that horizontally mounted cylinder. The central component supports the idling conveyor belt while the side “wings” function as belt/product centring guides. Troughing idlers are typically found in that 3-roller configuration, but they can expand. 5-roller configurations are not unheard of in applications that require superior tracking control. Taken off rigid mountings and threaded through cables or chains, they’re transformed into garland idlers, which are commonly utilized in mining and quarrying applications.

Corner Blunting Transition Idlers

Conveyor belts are clearly designed to feature a certain amount of material pliability. Even so, they’re also tough and semi-stiff. Because of that feature, they can’t exactly change direction on command. To do so would be to introduce an unacceptable amount of obliquely applied stress to the system. Transition idlers are designed to eliminate such stresses. Inserted between the rollers that alter belt direction, transition idlers diminish overly sharp belt twists and turns. To be clear, these rollers install as multiple sets. Belts corner better as additional transition idlers are installed.

Underside Impact Sets

Just like the transition sets, impact idlers are usually fitted underneath a conveyor belt, so they’re classed as return idlers. Their form factors are traditionally rigid, although there are impact garland rollers, too. Either way, their shells and mountings must be capable of dampening the shock loads that occur as heavy items are added to a conveyor system’s belt.

Last of all, plain cylinder return idlers support the belt as it slides down and under. The loop of material would sag heavily without these rolling supports. Again, all of these cylinders fit into two distinct categories. There are the carrying idlers, plus their return side counterparts. It’s after we delve into the two categories that we see how they divide even more. Topside, there are garland chains and multi-segment troughing fittings. Between those, transition and self-aligning idlers keep conveyor belts on the straight and narrow. Below the belt, several different return side tubes take up the slack. They include slack carrying idlers and a number of different impact dampening supports.

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