Belt transport system
The belt transport system is the first and most interesting transport system in Factorio (besides the Railway and Robot logistics of course ^^). Transport belts (or conveyor belts) are used to transport Items.
There are 3 different types of belts in 3 different speed categories:
Differences between the belt-types
Technically the only difference between the levels of the three belt types is speed and colour. In practice, there are some differences in density, throughput and handling in conjunction with inserters. See Physics to dig deeper into that.
No energy usage
Belts don't need energy to for transportation, and this is one of the Mysteries of the Factorio World. But like any other mystery in Factorio, this is also just for gameplay reasons. If the transport belts would use energy, your whole factory production line could be halted. For example, if you run out of coal, which needs to be transported to the boilers to heat water, and in turn, make Steam Engines run, your whole production line will shut down because the conveyor belts as well will stop.
Using debug-mode to see, what really happens?
The belt transport system can be imagined as a type of "moving ground." Basically every item on a belt is moved in the conveyor belt's direction.
Technically an item is a small entity in a "box" (turn on the collision box in the Debug mode to see this) that is in motion (usually through the use of conveyor belts and inserters) and do not overlap (see the image below).
You can imagine the items moving upward tick by tick. And when coming to the turn, the items aren't rotated, but moved to the side.
Puzzling game element
Another game-element of the belts is that they introduce some kind of puzzling into the game. The handling of the near and far side of the belt, optimizing and many other aspects are quite concentrated in the management of the belts. If you want to handle those kinds of puzzles, please continue to read the pages below.
|Transport belts||Underground belts||Splitters||Speed (tiles/second)||Needed research|
|Basic transport belt||Basic underground belt||Basic splitter||~1.8||Logistics 1 Basic underground belt and Basic splitter|
|Fast transport belt||Fast underground belt||Fast splitter||~3.6||Logistics 2|
|Express transport belt||Express underground belt||Express splitter||~5.6||Logistics 3|