The first records of conveyor belts date back to 1795. The first conveyor system was made of a wooden bed and leather belt, and it was powered with pulleys and hand cranks. The Industrial Revolution and steam power improved the primitive design of the first conveyor systems. By 1804, the British Navy started using steam-powered conveyor systems to load ships.
Machine-powered conveyors would begin appearing in a variety of industries over the next 100 years. In 1901, Swedish engineering company Sandvik started producing the first steel conveyor belts. Once constructed using leather, rubber, or canvas belts, conveyor belt systems began using different fabrics or a combination of synthetic materials for the belts.
Conveyor systems have evolved over the decades and are no longer just powered manually or by gravity. Today, mechanical conveyor systems are widely used in the food industry to improve food quality, operational efficiencies, productivity, and safety. Mechanical conveyors are composed of a power mechanism to control the conveying speed, a motor controller, the structure that supports the conveyor, and a means to handle the material, such as a belt, tube, tray, or screw.