Distribution Conveyors: Screw vs. Drag

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Distribution conveyors control the flow of products into storage bins and trailer loading stations. For even distribution, the conveyor pulls the material along as it piles into the bin and reaches the bottom of the conveyor. These systems are required for automated load-out processes such as trailer loading stations. However, it’s important to choose the right conveyor for the job.

Screw conveyors are most commonly used in this application because of their lower upfront cost, but they come with their disadvantages. Let’s look at what factors make drag conveyors a better option for distribution than screw conveyors.

Hanger Bearings

If you’ve ever seen a screw conveyor used for distribution, you know it requires hanger bearings for proper support. However, these bearings can get wrapped up with fibrous material like biomass, which can cause obstructions within the conveyor. The only way to prevent this obstruction is to check the bearings regularly.

Keeping the bearings clean and free from buildup will prevent bigger issues with your process, such as excess friction putting more stress on the motor. Unfortunately, the bearings are difficult to access and maintain. These obstruction and maintenance issues can be eliminated completely with the SMART Conveyor™ because they don’t require hanger bearings for support.


When using a screw conveyor, you have rotational and axial forces to contend with. Screws put torque on the bin. For truck bins, this isn’t a big deal because of how heavily they’re built. The engineers who designed these bins probably accounted for these forces. Still, smaller bins and homemade trailer-loading stations put excessive load on the frame that the builders didn’t account for. This force causes the structure to shutter or, in a worst-case scenario, collapse and fail.

In addition, the amount of force put on the thrust bearings from material pushback in a screw conveyor can be too much, causing rapid failure. The SMART Conveyor™ can withstand much more stress because the forces from the material are applied radially to the bearings.

Choosing the SMART Conveyor™

SMART Conveyors™ are less likely to cause unnecessary downtime in your distribution process and have a longer lifespan due to their lack of internal friction and overall wear. Although screw conveyors may once have seemed like the best option, SMART Conveyors™ are a more reliable conveying solution that can save you time and money in the long run.

Have you looked into using a SMART Conveyor™ for your distribution needs? If not, we encourage you to contact us today – see for yourself how well they work!

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