V-Guide or Crowned Pulley, Which one is Right for You?

One of the largest issues of belt conveyor maintenance is belt tracking. When belts aren’t running straight on the pulleys it can cause premature wear and damage to the conveyor and belt. There are a lot of factors that can affect belt tracking such as belt splicing, pulley accuracy, or proper belt tensioning. The two most common methods of belt tracking are V-guiding and crowned pulleys.

v-guided belts graphic
V-guided belts have a “v” shaped plastic adhered to the back of the conveyor belt. This “v” then fits in a groove that runs the length of the conveyor and pulleys. V-guide continuously tracks the belt and keeps it running straight. For best bonding results the V-guide material, which is generally PVC or urethane, should be the same as the belt being used. Some examples of belts that cannot be used with V-guide are Teflon, polypropylene, and silicon-based belts. These belts are usually used in very specific applications such as high heat or some food applications so for most people V-guiding should work for their applications. Some pros and cons to V-guiding are:
v-guided graphic


  • Provides belt tracking along entire length of conveyor
  • Multiple traction surface options
  • Straight pulley provides consistent transfer for small or odd shaped products


  • Limits belting options
  • Belts are not completely flat. During the bonding process the heat applied causes a small bump to form along the entire length where the V-guide is applied. This bump is very minimal and becomes less when tensioned in the conveyor. This could be a problem for small or light-weight products as it would cause them to not lay completely flat on the belt.
  • Cannot be used with a nose bar transfer. Adding a V-guide to a belt makes it too large to run over such a small pulley. Typically the smallest diameter pulley a V-guide belt can go over is a 1″ diameter pulley.

Crowned pulley tracking is a pulley with a cylindrical middle section and tapered ends. This method of tracking works by using the tapered ends of the pulley to steer the belt back to the center of the roller when it starts drifting off to the left or right. Some pros and cons to using a crowned roller are:


  • Works with most belt types. Most manufacturers assume some type of crowned pulley tracking method will be used with their belts.
  • Can be used on nose bar transfers.


  • No control over belt tracking along the conveyor bed. The tracking only happens on the ends of the conveyor so the belt in the middle of the conveyor is free to move from side-to-side.
  • Can be difficult to transfer small or odd shaped products. Although the crown of the pulley is small it can affect how odd shaped or small products are transferred because of the slight tapering on the ends of the pulley.

crowned pulley belt graphic

So which tracking option is right for you? Each belt has its pros and cons making it better at some things than others. Which tracking method you choose is going to depend on your application. If you have an application that needs a knife edge transfer then a crowned roller is going to be right for you because a V-guide belt can’t go over such a small pulley diameter. A different application might call for a conveyor in a space where performing maintenance is difficult. In that scenario, a V-guided belt would be good because the belt is being continually tracked as it is operating which can reduce belt maintenance.

With many of today’s conveyor applications running 24/7, it is important that maintenance times are reduced and conveyors are working properly. Having reliable belt tracking on your conveyors can help lower maintenance times and keep products moving smoothly. Whether you choose a crowned pulley or V-guide tracking method each one can ensure proper belt tracking and minimize problems associated with belt tracking.

2 comments on “V-Guide or Crowned Pulley, Which one is Right for You?

  1. Mark on

    I was really interested in seeing this article, since I’ve been dealing with questions about tracking problems since 1981. But, I can’t say I agree with the basic premise of the article. V-guides are NOT meant to track belts, although people have always tried to use them for that purpose. V-guides are meant to resist side-loading, which is intermittent. Neither the PVC nor the PU used in making v-guides have “sliding” properties to make “rubbing constantly against metal” an insignificant force. Over the years I’ve seen belts returned claiming “failed v-guides”, where the guide have been worn to 1/2 its original width due to mis-tracking. It’s PVC – it cannot withstand the abuse. PU is tougher, but that doesn’t mean its bond to the belt it tougher – or tough enough to withstand the abuse either. My analogy is that curbs on the road would keep our tires going straight too, but the tires would not like it. Crowning and adjusting pulleys (or secondary snub-rollers) are the only methods that really work, and that is in every engineering handbook from any of the top European-style belt producers. But obviously, that’s just my opinion.

    • Laura Anderson on

      Thank you for taking the time to read our paper on the benefits of V-guided conveyor design. You are exactly correct that V-guiding is not a cure all for poor conveyor design or mis-tracking. It is another tool in the conveyor designer arsenal to help in tough applications to keep the conveyor running straight and true. In addition the conveyor and belt themselves must be straight, true and precise. Those are the exact benefits you get from the Dorner conveyor product. Our belt tolerancing and straightness are generally twice as tight as typical conveyor industry tolerances. Our frame accuracy, roller straightness and position tolerancing is also held to the highest level. These combined with accurate v-guiding belts provides a superior belt tracking system versus conventional crowned roller. In addition if v-guiding cannot be use for a particular application most all Dorner conveyors can be equipped with Cam-tracking instead. Thanks again for your interest in Dorner product and participating in our Conveyor Blogs.

      Mike Hosch
      VP – Industrial Products


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