Operating a Belt Conveyor in both directions. Is it possible?

Belt Conveyors are a fairly simple piece of equipment. The major components are a motorised roller, called the drive roller, an idle roller, a frame with a slider tray over which the belt can traverse and of course the belt itself. Of course there are always some other components involved but these are the main ones. In simple setups like these it is generally recommended to run the belt in one direction, which is from the idle end towards the drive roller. The Drive roller pulls the belt rather then pushing it. Running the belt in this direction allows for pretty high payloads. This is because the belt is pulled tight onto the drive roller during operation, which eliminates slippage between the drive roller and the belt and allows the full transfer of torque from the motor to the belt. This configuration also is best as far as tracking of the belt is concerned.

Is the operation of a belt conveyor in the reverse direction possible at all?

Well, it can but it can become a little tricky and some guidelines have to be considered.

If the belt is to be operated in reverse, so that the belt is pushed from the motor end towards the idler end then these points have to be considered.

–       Payload weight

–       Dimensions of the conveyor

–       Tracking of the belt


The weight placed onto the conveyor must be kept low in this mode of operation. This is because the pushing of the belt encourages separation between the drive roller and the belt. This is reducing needed friction between drive roller and belt. The torque from the motor cannot be transferred to the belt and the result will be a slipping roller.

Dimensions of the conveyor

In general, the shorter and wider the belt, the better a push operated belt conveyor will work. This is again due to the friction that can be achieved between the drive roller and the belt. A wider roller has more surface area and allows for more friction. A long belt creates a lot of backpressure and reduces friction between drive roller and belt. There is no hard and fast rule here. The ratios of payload and dimensions of the conveyor have to be looked at as one to see if the conveyor unit will work in this given mode of operation.

Tracking of the belt

This is often an issue when running a belt conveyor in reverse. Again this is because of the potential slippage of the drive roller. If the conveyor is to be run in reverse only and payload weight is kept very low then good tracking of the belt should be easy. If the conveyor is to be run multidirectional, as in alternating in certain intervals between forward and reverse then a tracking strip is the best solution. This is simply a guide strip secured to the underside of the belt, which guarantees tracking of the belt.