Author Archives: Pam Hatley

  1. How Do Conveyor Belts Work?

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    Frequently used in commercial or industrial environments, conveyor systems carry and transport materials along a moving belt. Conveyor belts lend efficiency to an expansive range of manufacturing and fulfillment operations, as they facilitate the reliable and continuous transfer of high volumes of materials and goods.

    Conveyor belts are built from a variety of components that facilitate proper function and safe handling of products and materials. One such product is the conveyor belt gripper, which aids in keeping products securely fixed to the conveyor belt.

    An Overview of Conveyor Belts

    Conveyor belts consist of a large moving belt upon which products can rest as they are transported. The belt is designed in a loop shape and affixed to conveyor rollers, which in turn are connected to several rotors. The rotors are powered by motors, and the belt begins to move when the motors are switched on and the rollers begin turning.

    The belt itself is most frequently composed of several layers of rubber. The first layer is what gives structure and support to the conveyor belt, while the second layer comes into direct contact with the materials the belt is transporting.

    In order to ensure that the products do not shift or lose their balance as they are being transported, manufacturers can install chain grippers onto their conveyor belts. In some conveyor setups, there is no belt at all, and products are gripped firmly on either side by rubber conveyor chain grippers and moved along the determined path. This latter method is common bottling applications. Chain grippers are vital to the safety of products in setups where they are needed.

    How to Choose the Right Conveyor Belt

    Depending on the desired application, conveyor belts are available in a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials. In order to ensure that manufacturers can get the most out of this machinery, choosing the appropriate conveyor belt for the intended use is vital. The first point to consider is which belt material will be best suited for the project. Options include but are not limited to:

    • Rubber
    • Leather
    • Polyester
    • Nylon

    Next, there are a number of factors to consider when choosing a conveyor belt, including:

    • Dimensions
    • Product specifications
    • Decline/incline requirements
    • Environmental conditions


    After choosing the material, determining the dimensions of the conveyor belt is the most important step. By accurately gathering the available dimensions, belting representatives are immediately able to rule out certain belt options and settle on the most viable choices.

    Product Specifications

    Which type of conveyor belt will be most appropriate depends heavily on the types of products it will be transporting. It is specifically important to note the following factors:

    • Weight, Conveyor belts can bend or warp under the weight of heavy materials, so it is vital to choose a belt that is specifically designed to carry the weight of your product.
    • In order to prevent products from becoming entangled in the conveying machine or falling off the side of the belt, the belt should be sized such that the products can comfortably fit on its surface.
    • To ensure the longevity of the belt, consider the material of the products themselves—for example, the sharp edges of metal products can damage a belt that is not designed to withstand wear and tear.

    Decline and Incline Requirements

    If the conveyor belt will need to operate on inclines or declines, it is possible that products will slip and render the belt ineffective. In order to avoid this scenario, additions such as stoppers or grippers can be highly beneficial to ensure that objects stay in place.

    Environmental Conditions

    Not all conveyor belts are able to withstand extreme temperatures or product spills. As such, understanding the type of environment in which the conveyor will be placed, as well as what types of materials it will transport, is a vital step in choosing the appropriate belt.

    Houston Products Can Help Complete Your Conveyor Belt System

    Conveyor belts can drastically increase the efficiency and convenience of any manufacturing project. In order for these machines to function at their best, it is important for their operators to fully understand each project’s individual requirements; this way, they can determine when products such as grippers can be implemented to further increase the success of the project.

    At Houston Products, we provide a variety of grippers to help ensure the efficient functioning of your conveyor belt system. Our specialized rubber chain grippers are incredibly durable, and are made from highly engineered custom EPDM rubber materials.

    Grippers play an essential role in the functionality of many conveyor belt systems. We offer a wide range of grippers so you can always find the perfect match for your conveyor setup. A few products we offer include:

    • D style grippers
    • Soft touch grippers
    • Finger grippers
    • Mini grippers
    • Assembled conveyor grippers

    Our team is always happy to help you learn more about which type of gripper is the best fit for your needs—don’t hesitate to contact us today.


  2. EPDM Conveyor Chain Grippers: A Guide

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    conveyor chain grippers

    Though common, traditional roller conveyors are insufficient for many types of loads—production lines transporting oversized or extremely heavy components, for instance, must take a different approach. Conveyer chain grippers present a simple, low-maintenance system for handling unwieldy industrial loads. Rubber grippers attach to a metal chain conveyor and grab on to the sides of a product, securing it so that it can be conveyed at virtually any angle.

    Houston Products, Inc. provides a full catalog of high-performance rubber conveyor chain grippers to suit industrial settings ranging from food and beverage, to blow molding, to paper manufacturing, and many more.

    Chain Conveyors

    Chain conveyors are useful for continuous or indexed conveyance and work in both horizontal or vertical setups. The standard chain conveyor arrangement involves two parallel chain tracks, each of which has a metal base covered in precision-engineered rubber grippers. The two chains grip the product between them so that it can be conveyed at various angles. This arrangement of parallel rubber grippers allows for fine control throughout transport without damaging or dropping the products.

    Gripper chain conveyors are often necessary when transporting components within a limited space. Additionally, some conveyors are rated to carry loads as heavy as 3,000 pounds. To account for this, all grippers are designed from high-performance rubber compounds for maximum durability and stability. By using EPDM rubber rather than standard neoprene rubber, these applications gain the advantage of corrosion and temperature resistance. This makes grippers suitable for moving products through confined high-temperature areas, such as ovens.

    Houston Products’ Chain Conveyors and Grippers

    Houston Products specializes in high-performance chain grippers for all industrial conveyor applications. Our product line includes a variety of sizes, including mini grippers.

    All our standard grippers use FDA-compliant EPDM rubber rather than the more common neoprene used by many of our competitors. Many manufacturers default to neoprene because of its lower price point, but as a lower level rubber compound, it lacks the durability and chemical resistance of EPDM rubber. We prioritize enduring quality above all else, so we choose EPDM wherever possible.

    Our full range of grippers includes:

    We can also provide fully-assembled chains with your choice of base material and gripper style.

    Most shapes are available in a variety of colors, hardness levels, and temperature ratings. Our qualified team can consider all factors specific to your facility to identify the most appropriate solution.

    Applications and Industries

    Our grippers are suitable for elevators, lowerators, and other conveyor configurations, including transport through ovens, sanitizers, and other high-temperature environments. We can also customize solutions for clients with highly individualized needs.

    Our products have seen wide usage in applications such as:

    • Automotive (motor oil)
    • Beverage manufacturing (bottling)
    • Consumer packaged goods (packaged food, cased products)
    • Food manufacturing (cooking oils)
    • Blow molding (plastic bottle manufacturing)
    • Industrial conveyers, elevators, and lowerators
    • OEM
    • Paper manufacturing (paper towels)
    • Pharmaceutical (cartons)
    • Rinsing equipment and sterilizers

    Houston Products, Inc. Conveyor Solutions

    Houston Products, Inc. has dedicated years of research to developing our proprietary EPDM blend, resulting in higher-performance grippers at a lower cost to our clients. We cater to a diverse clientele with our extensive line of gripper designs and a willingness to fulfill custom orders.

    Contact Us today for more information about grippers from Houston Products.

  3. Components of Incline, Alpine, and Spiral Conveyors — Similarities & Differences

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    Conveyors facilitate the transport of in-process goods and parts through various workstations in a manufacturing or production facility. Different conveyor systems offer different advantages, including varying degrees of human access, use of horizontal and vertical space, and movement control. 

    Alpine conveyors, incline conveyors, and spiral conveyors are three of the most commonly employed types of conveyors in the industrial sector. In the following article, we’ll discuss the components of each type of conveyor system, its benefits, and how it compares to the other two systems.

    What Are Incline Conveyors?

    Incline conveyors are simpler conveyance systems used in industrial facilities to move materials and products across different heights. Depending on where the goods need to go next in the production process, these conveyors can be configured to move them to a different height within a floor, to a different floor, or across the current floor to a different location. 

    Some of the most commonly employed incline conveyor configurations include:

    • Side-gripping elevators/lowerators
    • Side-gripping rinsing conveyors (also known as rinsers)

    These conveyor systems feature two parallel gripper chains with attached gripper components that allow them to gently hold products during conveying, elevating, and lowering operations throughout the facility. They are highly customizable, allowing for changes to the distance between the chains to accommodate different product sizes and the gripper component—in regard to style and construction material—to suit different product types. Additionally, their design accounts for product jams; if a product becomes lodged, the individual gripper component detaches from the moving chain, allowing all other products to move forward and preventing damage to the other system components. 

    Incline Conveyor Applications

    As one of the most commonly used types of conveyors, incline conveyors can be found in facilities across industry. They are often employed in the manufacture of goods for the following industries:

    • Food and beverage
    • General manufacturing
    • Pharmaceuticals
    • Transportation

    Incline Conveyor Benefits

    By using incline conveyors, industry professionals benefit from:

    • Easier conveyor control. Incline conveyors allow operators to control the speed with fixed and variable speed controls. The machinery can also reverse the direction of movement at the push of a button. 
    • Heavier material handling capabilities. Incline conveyors accommodate heavy and bulky goods, reducing the need for human workers to manually carry these objects.
    • Safer transport of breakable items. While incline conveyors can feature almost any diagonal angle, they are precisely configured to keep goods safe from damage during transport. 
    • Longer production capacities. Incline conveyor systems are suitable for use in longer loading and unloading operations. 

    What Are Alpine Conveyors?

    Alpine conveyors are compact, spiral-shaped structures that are suitable for use in limited space environments. Depending on the exact requirements of the material handling application—e.g., production quantity, movement speed, and lowering and/or lifting conditions—they can employ a variety of different designs, such as: 

    • Single or double configurations
    • Return or top running chains
    • In-line or off-line accumulation
    • Inclining or declining elevation 

    Alpine Conveyor Applications

    Due to their narrow footprint, alpine conveyors allow for material conveyance without taking up significant space in the work environment. Facilities in nearly every industry—including automation, food handling, dairy and cheese manufacturing, and metalworking—employ these conveyors to streamline production and assembly. Typical use cases include:

    • Allowing for extended testing and processing time for parts and products
    • Enabling product movement and access at different levels for simultaneous processing
    • Product buffering and storage during downtime, machinery maintenance, and automated machinery reprogramming
    • Reducing bottlenecks in product flow at the end of the processing and finishing lines

    Alpine Conveyor Benefits

    Alpine conveyors offer several unique benefits, including:

    • Higher process consistency. In buffering or accumulating sections, alpine conveyors keep individual materials and components in order. This quality is particularly important for complex fabrication and assembly operations. 
    • Better damage prevention. Alpine conveyors feature a gentler slope that minimizes the risk of product damage during changes in elevation. 
    • Greater production/space efficiency. As alpine conveyors allow for the use of vertical space in a facility, they can fit larger production operations in the same space as other conveyor systems. 
    • Versatile production capacity. By adding or removing levels to an alpine conveyor system, facilities can increase or decrease production levels to suit the current production demand.

    Differences and Similarities to Incline Conveyors

    Similar to alpine conveyors, incline conveyors accommodate changes in elevation during production operations. However, there are differences in how and why industry professionals would use each type of conveyor. 

    • Incline conveyor systems are used primarily to move objects within a facility to different heights, floors, and locations.
    • Alpine conveyor systems allow for multiple layers of production to optimize the usage of facility space.  


    What Are Spiral Conveyors?

    Spiral conveyors gradually change the elevation of transported goods by moving them along an upward or downward spiral path. They can be very compact to minimize the use of horizontal space in confined facilities. 

    Types of Spiral Conveyors

    There are two main types of spiral conveyance systems:

    1. Drum spiral conveyors. These conveyors have modular belts that twist around a centralized drum structure.
    2. Spiral conveyors with drum-free external drives. These conveyors have an external drive that moves the conveyor belt. Compared to drum spiral conveyors, they offer better durability and longer service lives. 

    Differences and Similarities to Alpine Conveyors and Incline Conveyors

    Spiral conveyors differ from alpine and incline conveyors in that they are not suitable for production operations that require the horizontal transport of goods. They are primarily used for conveyance operations in very limited space facilities. 

    Quality Incline Conveyor Products From Houston Products

    Houston Products, Inc. is a manufacturer of high-quality side-gripping incline conveyor components. We offer the following product solutions: 

    • Full gripper chain assemblies, including a stainless or carbon steel base chain with the customer’s choice of gripper
    • Standard and custom rubber grippers for maintenance and repair operations

    Contact Us Today for additional information about our chain gripper products.

  4. Why Are Soft Touch Grippers Better Than D-Style Grippers?

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     soft touch gripper chainIn the manufacturing sector, the term “grippers” refers to conveyor system components that grip parts and products that run through the production line. They facilitate a variety of conveyor system operations, including moving, elevating, and lowering parts and buffering products at the end of the line.

    Soft Touch conveyor chain grippers—such as those provided by Houston Products, Inc.—serve as a highly durable and reliable gripping solution. As these rubber grippers are designed to meet the most demanding requirements of a wide range of industries, they often exceed the performance of comparable D-Style grippers.

    Soft Touch Conveyor Chain Grippers: Background Info

    At Houston Products, our Soft Touch conveyor chain grippers are suitable for use in a wide range of industries. The following table outlines their features and specifications:

    Length ·   Standard 3 3/8 inches (to suit 1873 Tab G chain systems)

    ·   Custom lengths available

    Hardness ·   40 Shore A

    ·   50 Shore A (standard)

    ·   60 Shore A

    Temperature Range 40ºF to 240ºF
    Resistance ·   1 3/16 (3 finger)

    ·   1 7/16 (4 finger)

    Colors ·   White

    ·   Black

    ·   Red

    ·   Blue

    ·   Tan

    Quantity 200 pieces/box

    Some of the applications for our grippers include:

    • Bottling and canning production line systems
    • Elevators
    • Lowerators
    • Rinsers

    Soft Touch Grippers vs. D-style Grippers

    Soft Touch grippers are a variation of the traditional D-style grippers preferred by many manufacturers. However, they feature a number of material and design improvements that set them apart and make them better suited to meet high-level manufacturing demands.

    Material Improvements of Soft Touch Grippers

    Our Soft Touch grippers are made from a proprietary EPDM rubber blend that adheres to FDA standards. Generally, D-style grippers use neoprene, except in high temperature applications that call for EPDM rubber. Neoprene is an inferior rubber compound that does not provide the temperature or chemical resistance offered by EPDM rubber.
    Our blend of EPDM rubber is also UV, wear, abrasion, and water-resistant. The EPDM rubber in our grippers comes in a standard hardness of 50 Shore A. Harder and softer options are available, and we can modify hardness to fit the specific needs of the customer.

    Design Improvements of Soft Touch Grippers

    The design variations we added to our Soft Touch grippers include indented sides. This feature allows for greater flexibility than traditional D-style grippers and broader contact with the surface area of the containers. Due to our grippers’ greater gripping capacity, flexibility, and broader contact with the container surface areas, they require far less gripping pressure, allowing them to handle thin-walled PET bottles that D-style grippers cannot.

    Contact Houston Products Today for Soft Touch Grippers

    Proper gripping on conveyor systems is crucial to the manufacturing industry. Soft Touch grippers provide a higher level of performance than traditional D-style grippers.

    At Houston Products, Inc., we’ve manufactured high performance rubber grippers—including Soft Touch grippers—since 2008. We are leading providers of replacement and OEM grippers for a broad range of applications in a variety of industries including:

    • Bottling
    • Pharmaceutical
    • Paper products
    • Packaging


    The grippers we provide accommodate side gripper chain and gripper flight-chain conveyor systems for elevators, lowerators, and rinsing machines. Our Soft Touch grippers meet FDA requirements and are available with a variety of different color, hardness, and customization options. For these grippers, our delivery times are close to instantaneous on standard stock orders with lead times of two weeks on orders that require special material and four weeks for custom profiles.

    Contact Us Today or Request a Quote to learn more about our range of gripping solutions.

  5. Neoprene vs. EPDM Rubber: Everything You Need to Know

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    Both neoprene and EPDM are materials used in the manufacture of conveyor belt systems. While neoprene rubber is most commonly employed in the industry, many companies, including ours, are moving towards using EPDM as many of the challenges associated with using neoprene are overcome by using it.

    No matter your material preference, Houston Products, Inc. is well-poised to supply your organization with the tools and products you need to carry out quality work.

    What Is Neoprene Rubber?

    Neoprene rubber is created through the polymerization of chlorine. Characterized by its chemical stability, flexibility over a wide range of temperatures, and resistance to degradation, the material was originally intended for use as an oil replacement for natural rubber.

    Its durability and flexible properties make neoprene rubber suitable for use in a wide variety of everyday products—such as sports and medical equipment, tech covers and sleeves, wetsuits, and safety gloves—as well as for a variety of outdoor applications—including use as hoses, gaskets, seals, coatings, and linings.

    Neoprene Benefits

    The properties of neoprene rubber position it as a material of choice in applications requiring:

    • Chemical stability
    • Flexibility across a range of temperatures
    • Excellent resistance to abrasive substances
    • Resistance to degradation due to weathering
    • Moderate resistance to some chemical, acids, greases, fats, and oils

    At Houston Products, all of our mini grippers are made out of neoprene rubber in accordance with industry standards. While we believe that other materials, such as EPDM, provide additional benefits in most applications, we are proud to offer our clients a small range of neoprene products designed to suit their needs.

    What Is EPDM Rubber?

    EPDM (or ethylene propylene diene monomer) is a variety of synthetic rubber that possesses excellent durability, as well as other characteristics classically associated with more popular elastomers. Some of its other characteristics include tear resistance, high tensile strength, and compression set.

    A number of industries rely on EPDM rubber to keep work processes safe and ensure the delivery of quality products and services including:

    • HVAC
      • Panel gaskets
      • Pressure switch tubing
    • Automotive
      • Weather stripped
      • Hydraulic brake systems
      • Wire and cable harnesses
    • Industrial
      • Belts, grommets, and tubing
      • Stinger covers
      • Electric insulations
      • Water systems, O-rings, and hoses

    EPDM Benefits

    The benefits of EPDM over other elastomer options are extensive and include:

    • Temperature resistance ranging from -60 to 350 °F
    • Recovery from up to 600% elongation
    • Capable of withstanding greater temperature ranges than neoprene
    • Heat, water, coolant, steam, ozone, and sunlight-resistant
    • Resistant to polar materials such as phosphate esters, alcohol, and many ketones

    Due to the advantages offered by the material, the Houston Products team is vested in offering our clients a range of EPDM grippers and conveyor chains. Employing EPDM as our standard gripper material sets us apart from competitors stuck relying on neoprene. Our grippers are more durable and cost-effective than their neoprene counterparts; both benefits we are glad to pass down to our clients.


    While both neoprene and EPDM rubber have their benefits, at Houston Products, Inc. we feel the optimal choice between the two is clear. As our standard manufacturing material, EPDM offers consumers far greater durability and flexibility and is suited to a broader range of applications than its alternatives.

    If you’re interested in leveraging the benefits of EPDM in your application, contact us or request a quote today.