Industrial Screw Conveyors: Pulling vs. Pushing Material

Industrial Screw Conveyors: Pulling vs. Pushing Material


Industrial screw conveyors, or auger conveyors, move bulk material such as granular solids (powder, grain, granules), semi-solids, liquids, and non-flowing material from point to point. Typical materials transferred in screw conveyors are cereals, fertilizers, animal feeds, ash, gravel, cement, and solid wastes. They drastically increase productivity, reducing the manual labor required to move the material from one point to another. 

A screw conveyor consists of a rotating screw shaft installed in a trough. As the screw shaft rotates, the material is moved linearly, either horizontally, vertically, or on an inclined path. 

The food and grain industries and aggregate mining industries use screw conveyors extensively. They are versatile and can be designed to meet the unique needs of many conveying systems. 

A key component in designing industrial screw conveyors is determining the flow of the material, which can be either pulled or pushed. In this article, we walk you through key recommendations from one of IBT’s top suppliers, KWS, to help you determine where your drive unit should be located.

Pulling Industrial Screw Conveyor Drive Units

Screw Conveyors - Pulling

A pulling or pushing screw conveyor drive unit can be located on either the inlet (tail) or discharge (head) end of a screw conveyor. While drive location doesn’t impact horsepower or speed, KWS recommends locating the drive unit on the discharge end to pull material towards the discharge.

The pulling motion usually provides more strength and helps avoid potential kinks in the assembly, especially one with multiple screw sections. This pulling motion puts the center tube in tension to keep the alignment of the screw sections, which is critical in preventing premature failures, as well as reducing fatigue and wear on the conveyor.

Pushing Industrial Screw Conveyor Drive Units

Screw Conveyors - Pushing

When a screw conveyor drive unit is driven at the inlet (or tail) end of the conveyor, the system pushes the material instead of pulling it.

Pushing material is not typically the preferred configuration for most conveying applications, as pushing the material can add compression stress to the screw. According to KWS, mounting the drive unit on the discharge end is only sometimes possible, as some applications may have clearance issues. If you mount the drive on the inlet end and push the material, add routine checks for potential misalignment to your preventative maintenance schedule.

Discover the Highest-Quality Screw Conveyors from KWS

As a trusted brand that IBT has worked with for a long time, KWS Manufacturing is a premier source for a wide range of screw conveyors. Their products are manufactured to deliver the highest-quality performance and longevity in some of the most demanding industries, including aggregate, mining, grain, and food processing.

KWS is an industry leader in bringing experience and technology into custom fabrication, ensuring your application’s exact needs are met with top-of-the-line engineering solutions. KWS’ Line of Screw Conveyors Feature:

Drive Unit Locations for Screw Conveyors

  • Horizontal Screw Conveyors: As the industry’s most commonly used style of screw conveyor, the horizontal screw conveyor moves bulk materials from one part of a process to another.
  • Inclined Screw Conveyors: These typically operate from slightly above the horizontal position and feature increased horsepower requirements to prevent bulk material fallback.
  • Shaftless Screw Conveyors: This type of industrial conveyor is used to discharge bulk materials from centrifuges, filter presses, and mixers while providing a non-clogging conveying surface for difficult-to-convey materials.
  • Vertical Screw Conveyors: This industrial conveyor design is more compact and features fewer moving parts, making it the most efficient and cost-effective method for elevating a variety of bulk materials.

IBT’s Team of Dedicated Conveying Systems Experts Has Got You Covered

With decades of experience in conveying systems and the aggregate, mining, grain, and food processing industries, our engineering team is here to help you find the right conveying solution for your operation. Contact Jim Boatright, IBT’s Conveying Systems Manager, today at 913-677-3151 to learn more about our engineering capabilities or submit an inquiry online!

For additional conveying parts and accessories, visit to purchase products we have available online!


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