Material Handling Experts


Drives & Tail Pulleys

Conveyor fundamentals

How the drive pulley is "driven"

A chain is put around the Drive Pulley Sprocket and the motor sprocket.

Conveyor drive pulley

The chain moves when the motor is started. The chain turns the drive pulley.


  • Because a motor turns very fast (1750 times per minute). . .
  • A speed reducer must also be used.
    The speed reducer is put between the motor and the drive pulley.

The motor is connected to the reducer with a V-Belt (like the fan belt in your car) or a "C" Face Coupling.

The reducer is connected to the drive pulley with a chain . . . Now the Drive Pulley turns slower.

All those parts (the motor, the speed reducer, and the drive pulley) are collectively called the conveyor drive.

The Conveyor Drive

Drives must take up as little space as possible, so the motor and reducer are put under and within the conveyor bed.

But what about the tail pulley?

The tail pulley is located at the tail end of the conveyor and it turns freely. Now a "belt" can be put around the pulleys.

The Drive Pulley turns and moves the belt around (and around, and around). But it is dangerous to have the belt hang down under the conveyor bed. So small rollers are put into the Conveyor Bed to hold up the belt.

These turn freely -- and just idle. They are called "Return Idlers".