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Sanitary Conveyor Belt Sag: What is Catenary Sag?

September 25, 2019

Conveyor belt sag, also known as catenary sag, refers to the tensionless section of the belt that hangs down on the return side (or underside) of the conveyor.  It is an intended section of the belt that is required to keep your conveyor running smoothly.

The catenary sag is a natural way to tension the belt.  It allows gravity to give the belt the exact amount of tension instead of relying on a mechanical take-up or tension system.  Mechanical take-up or tension systems are required when catenary conveyor belt sag is not included in the design of the conveyor system.

Plastic sanitary conveyor belts stretch over time due to heavy loads, product temperature and/or room temperature.  The fluctuation of the belt length on a conveyor designed to utilize the catenary conveyor belt sag will not be an issue.  On a conveyor that requires a mechanical tensioning system, you will need to continuously monitor and make necessary adjustments to tweak the belt length as it grows and shrinks.

Several parts and components are included in the design of mechanical tensioning systems, making them complex.  With every part and component used in the design, you increase the likelihood for needed repair and harboring bacteria, which will increase your maintenance and sanitation costs.

Conveyor belt tracking issues happen exclusively to belts that utilize a mechanical tensioning system. Belt tracking problems require the conveyor system to be shut down, which will reduce or stop your production.  Significant damage to the belt and/or the conveyor frame will be the result if this condition is not corrected promptly, only adding to production downtime.

Benefits of Catenary Conveyor Belt Sag

  • No complex mechanical take-up system required
  • No need to monitor natural belt stretch
  • Keeps the belt from skipping
  • No belt tensioning tools required
  • Eliminates belt tracking issues
  • Reduced maintenance and sanitation costs
  • Easier cleaning access to the internal components of the conveyor

If you let it, the nature of gravity will allow your conveyor to run smoother and be more economical than one that includes a mechanical tensioning system.

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Product Development Engineer at Dynamic Conveyor Corporation
Justin is a product development engineer at Dynamic Conveyor. His experience includes over 13 years of designing custom conveying equipment including development of the DynaClean food conveyor line, and he has also helped develop automated conveyor system design programs. Justin takes pleasure in researching and developing new methods to get work done in the most efficient way possible. This approach to developing conveyor systems allows Dynamic Conveyor to bring cutting-edge conveying solutions to customer challenges. Justin is a self-described “family guy” and enjoys spending his free time outdoors with his family.
Justin Caris
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