Who Invented the Conveyor Belt & When?

Who Invented the Conveyor Belt & When?

In our fast-paced, high-tech world full of manufactured items, it’s hard to imagine a world without conveyor systems. Warehouses across the globe rely on them to facilitate assembly processes and keep things running smoothly. But there was a time before conveyor belt systems existed, believe it not. Who invented the conveyor belt? And when was the conveyor belt invented? Continue reading to learn the history behind the conveyor belt and how it came to be

So, Who Invented the Conveyor Belt?

If this industrial staple had a single inventor, his or her name has sadly been lost to time. Many people throughout history can claim a bit of responsibility in helping the conveyor evolve and become more efficient, however.

For example, the world has American manufacturer and inventor Thomas Robbins to thank for a conveyor belt system that transported coal and ore for Thomas Edison’s Ore-Milling Company. His invention won the grand prize at the Paris Exposition World Fair and went on to revolutionize the mining industry.

Another noteworthy pioneer in the conveyor belt’s history is none other than automobile
manufacturer Henry Ford. He introduced the idea of a conveyor belt assembly line to his Michigan factory and continuously improved upon its technology. In doing this, Ford made conveyor systems mainstream, and their popularity only grew.

The Conveyor System Timeline

When was the conveyor belt invented? Since the name of the conveyor’s exact inventor is unknown, it’s hard to say for sure. Long before Robbins and Ford, however, the first conveyor systems are thought to have been used as early as 1795. They were made of a leather or canvas belt that traveled over a flat wooden bed. Years later, Robbins developed the modern conveyor belt’s direct precursor in 1892, while Ford began using and improving upon it in 1913.

To give you a better understanding of monumental moments in conveyor belt history, we created the following timeline:

  • 1795 – The first conveyors appeared. Early conveyors were mainly used in ports to move agricultural products from shore to ship.
  • 1804 – The British Navy began eating biscuits produced by the first steam operated conveyors.
  • 1892 – Manufacturer and inventor Thomas Robbins designed a conveyor belt system to transport coal and ore for Thomas Edison’s Ore-Milling Company. His invention won the grand prize at the Paris Exposition World Fair in 1900.
  • 1902 – Swedish engineering company Sandvik produced steel conveyors for the
    transportation of mined aggregate and coal.
  • 1905 – Mining engineer and inventor Richard Sutcliffe introduced the first underground conveyor belt. It was made of cotton and rubber and used during mining, quarrying and mineral processing.
  • 1908 – Inventor Hymle Goddard patented the first roller conveyor.
  • 1913 – Automobile manufacturer and inventor Henry Ford started incorporating conveyor belts into his company’s assembly line system.
  • 1920s – Conveyors began replacing locomotive and rail lines in the quarrying, mining and mineral processing industries.
  • 1940s – Due to a shortage of rubber during World War II, the first synthetic belt materials were created. Additionally, the first conveyor safety standards were developed by the American Standards Association in 1947
  • 1970 – Manufacturers began creating conveyors that were less noisy and more durable.
  • 1980 – Internally powered conveyor rollers and motorized pulleys were developed to eliminate costly maintenance
  • 1988 – Span Tech was founded and the conveyor design system launched.
  • Recent years – – From solar-powered conveyor belts to computerization, conveyor systems have become more efficient and high-tech than ever before.

Conveyor Systems at Span Tech

As the leader in the plastic chain conveyors industry, Span Tech specializes in developing unique, customizable technical solutions for processing applications in a variety of industries. Quite like conveyor systems, we have our own bit of history. Since our launch in 1988, we’ve spent years continuously growing and innovating our process to help better every business we assist. In 2002, we released the SuperTight chain which produced a tighter conveyor turning radius. Four years later, Span Tech created the OutRunner Spiral — a more efficient conveyor that’s easy to clean. In 2015, we developed the 4-Rod Twist conveyor which allows for 90 degrees of product rotation in 60 inches.

Get Ready for the Future of Conveyors with Span Tech

No one knows who invented the conveyor belt, but everyone knows Span Tech’s conveyor solutions are the best on the market. As a company that thrives on innovation and testing, we recognize where conveyors havebeen, where they are and where they’re going. Whether you’re looking for specialty conveyors or would like more information on the latest in the manufacturing industry, Span Tech is here to help. Contact us for excellent customer service, expert knowledge and products you can count on.

3 Types of Customer Service


At Span Tech, you’re top priority. The proof is in our unparalleled customer service. Our dedicated staff members believe in treating our clients with respect and helping however we can. No matter the title or how high they rank, our team is here to provide exceptional assistance and world-class expertise. While this is the Span Tech way, we realize it’s not everyone’s way. In this article, we’re breaking down the three types of customer service and covering what you can expect when you choose our business.

1. Poor Customer Service

Think back to the last time you had a negative experience with a store. Maybe you had a question none of the employees could answer. Perhaps you called and were transferred from person to person before getting the assistance you needed. Or, maybe you were made to feel like you were an afterthought and your business wasn’t valued. Sadly, it’s safe to say most people have witnessed poor customer service like this. When you work in the manufacturing industry, experiencing this sort of situation can be detrimental. From receiving incorrect parts on an order to wasting company time on the phone with a representative, poor customer service can severely hurt your business. No matter how great their products might be, companies who treat you this way are sure to lose you as a returning customer.

2. Adequate Customer Service

At Span Tech, we have a saying: “Just enough is never enough.” Sure, adequate customer service is fine, but it only gets consumers so far. How many times have you faced a problem, been assisted by a representative and had your needs met…but only just? While this type of experience will help your business for the time being, it won’t necessarily provide long-term benefits. For example, let’s say you ask a representative a question about a product, and they provide you with an answer. They’ve done their job, the phone call ends and you continue on with your day. While things seem fine on the surface, adequate customer service like this ultimately lacks two things: time and energy. The representative hasn’t made an effort to learn about your manufacturing business, the role their company plays in assisting you or how they can help you succeed.

As a manufacturer, it’s important to focus on the big picture of your company. A big part of that involves having a supplier who understands your challenges, goals and overall mission. As the name suggests, adequate customer service falls short of achieving this for your business.

3. Excellent Customer Service

It’s great when things go right, but excellent customer service does so much more than that. This form of assistance goes above and beyond, while both meeting and surpassing expectations. If you’re one of the lucky ones, you know exactly what this looks like — a kind, helpful, positive interaction that kept your business on the right track.

Ultimately, excellent customer service leaves you feeling listened to, assisted and, above all, valued. It’s exactly what you can expect from the Span Tech team. From the moment you make the first phone call or walk through our doors, you’ll be met with a friendly voice or smile and a genuine desire to serve your business. We believe in serving our customers before, during and after their requirements are met. It’s the sort of treatment you deserve, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Get Unparalleled Customer Service From Span Tech

At Span Tech, you come first, and you always will. We make it our mission to provide our customers with the utmost professional, helpful, and highest quality they deserve during their experience with us. Our goal is to provide timely, attentive, upbeat service to our customers, to make sure their needs are met in a manner that reflects positively on the company. Whether you’re interested in our standard conveyors, experiencing troubleshooting or are curious about our case studies, we’re here to go above and beyond. Contact us today to learn more about our services and what Span Tech can do for your manufacturing business!

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What to Expect From Span Tech at PACK EXPO Connects

Each year, Span Tech attends PACK EXPO — a trade show dedicated to connecting suppliers and showcasing the latest in packaging and processing solutions. With PACK EXPO 2020 around the corner, we’re geared up and ready to go! Due to COVID-19, this year’s event will be virtual for the first time ever. What are the benefits of a virtual PACK EXPO and what does Span Tech have in store for attendees? Continue reading to learn about this upcoming event, PACK EXPO Connects, and what you could win if you show up to one of our demos!

Span Tech & PACK EXPO

As a proud industry leader, Span Tech specializes in building durably designed plastic chain conveyors and industry-leading innovation material. We’re passionate about developing unique, customizable technical solutions for a variety of industries to meet their individual needs. With an emphasis on quality and state-of-the-art manufacturing, we’re always staying up to date on the latest in the industry. That’s where PACK EXPO comes into play.

For more than 60 years, PACK EXPO trade shows have been helping a variety of industries advance by connecting consumer goods companies with manufacturing solutions. At Span Tech, we look forward to attending this trade show every year to connect with manufacturers, promote our services and discover the latest innovations in packaging.

PACK EXPO 2019 was held in Las Vegas and received a record turnout of 30,000 packaging professionals and 2,000 of the industry’s top suppliers. Like many other events in 2020, however, this tradeshow will be a bit different as we take proper precautions in light of COVID-19.

2020’s PACK EXPO Connects

Rather than host an in-person PACK EXPO, The Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies (PMMI), has decided to make it virtual. Also known as PACK EXPO Connects, the virtual PACK EXPO will be live and web-based. Hosting this event virtually will help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and make PACK EXPO more accessible than ever before.

Taking place from Nov. 9-13, PACK EXPO Connects will feature live chats, live equipment demos and engaging educational opportunities. Attendees can expect to see machinery up close and in action through world-class opportunities. From daily jumpstart sessions on hot topics to expert-led education sessions, PACK EXPO 2020 is full of exciting virtual sessions for attendees to benefit from.

Span Tech Demos at PACK EXPO Connects

This year, Span Tech is more excited than ever to be a part of PACK EXPO. We’re hosting a variety of demos featuring some of our top products and key industry tips to help your manufacturing processes. Best of all, when you join any of our live sessions, you’ll be entered to win a $250 Amazon gift card! We’ve listed our demos in chronological order below so you can be sure not to miss them.

Nov. 9: All Things Elevation

From lifting to lowering, our systems change elevation while keeping your product in top shape. No matter what height or depth your product needs to reach, we have the solution that will maximize uptime and ROI. In this demo, we will be talking about all the different solutions that we have for inclining and declining your products.

Products featured in this demo include:

Demo Schedule: Monday, Nov. 9 from 1:45 PM – 2:00 PM CST

Nov. 11: New Product – EZ Guide Adjustable Guide Rail

Bud Layne, owner of Span Tech LLC, will review and demonstrate the new EZ Guide adjustable guide rail system. This system is a new design which has never been seen before in the marketplace and can solve many of the primary issues that other guide rail systems have. In this session, Bud will show off these features and give a live demonstration of the prototype unit that has been built. You won’t want to miss this as we revolutionize the complications of conveyor guide rails.

Demo Schedule: Wednesday, Nov. 11 from 2:00 PM -2:15 PM CST

Nov. 12: I Wanna Get Technical… Technical

This demonstration will go over several Span Tech products and discuss some of the more technical aspects of what they do, how they work, how they are unique in the market and what advantages they provide.

Products featured in this demo include:

Demo Schedule: Thursday, Nov. 12 from 12:45 PM -1:00 PM CST

Nov. 13: Product Manipulation

Don’t you hate it when your product comes out of the machine in the wrong orientation? Well, we can help with that. Whether you need rotation, a roll over or flipping, we can do it all! Check out our Product Manipulation demo and see how we can help you get your product in the right orientation precisely when you need it.

Products featured in this demo include:

Demo Schedule: Friday Nov. 13 from 10:15 AM -10:30 AM CST

Don’t Miss Out On Span Tech’s Demos at PACK EXPO Connects

At Span Tech, we recognize the value in manufacturing technology and putting you first. We’re proud to be a part of PACK EXPO Connects, and we look forward to connecting with you and showing you our latest developments. If you wish to learn more about registering for our demos or have other questions about PACK EXPO 2020, reach out to us today!