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How Do Pneumatic Tube Systems Work?

Pneumatic tube systems, also known as pneumatic transport systems or simply pneumatic tubes, use compressed air to transport objects or documents through a network of tubes. These systems are used in banks, hospitals, retail stores, and offices, for efficient and rapid transportation of small items over short distances.

Parts of a Pneumatic Tube System

A pneumatic tube system comprises four main parts: carriers, stations, diverters, and blowers.


Carriers are the capsules that travel through the tubes, transporting objects or documents from point A to point B. Carriers are made of durable, transparent material and have secure but easy-to-operate closure flaps. The cushioned skirts on either end of the carrier allow it to move smoothly through tube systems and arrive at its destination safely. Carriers come in varying sizes to accommodate different systems and industries. For hospitals and labs, we recommend leak-resistant and leakproof carriers to transport sensitive liquid materials.


Stations are the ports that send and receive carriers. They include docks to insert carriers and user interface panels to send them to the desired end station. A pneumatic system might have two stations, or it may have diverging paths that lead to several stations.


When a complex system requires multiple paths to and from a given station, a diverter is used at the intersection of those branching paths. The diverter changes the direction of the carriers as they pass through.


Blowers create a difference in air pressure between two ends of a system, acting as fans that move the carriers to move through the tube system. Blowers are powered by motors that switch on and off as needed to direct the tubes through the system.

How Do You Use A Pneumatic Tube System?

One of the draws to installing a pneumatic tube system is that they are so user-friendly. Operating a tube system usually consists of the following steps:

  1. Place the material into a carrier.
  2. Insert the carrier into a station.
  3. Use the station’s user interface to select a destination and send the carrier.
  4. A blower activates, creating pressure that pulls the carrier through the tube system.
  5. A computerized system activates diverters as necessary, which direct the carrier on the proper path throughout the system.
  6. The carrier arrives at the destination station and is received.

When Were Pneumatic Tubes Invented?

The first operating pneumatic tube system was launched in 1853 at the London Telegraph Office. Throughout the rest of the 19th century, pneumatic tubes were primarily used for the transportation of telegrams, mail, and small parcels, providing a revolutionary method of communication and delivery.

They grew popular in major cities such as New York, Boston, Paris, and Berlin, integrating with the cities’ infrastructure and being used in businesses around the globe. After two world wars and the advent of new technologies, however, pneumatic tubes became a less popular option. Despite the apparent decline in the industry, there is still a vibrant market for pneumatic tubes today.

How Are Pneumatic Tubes Used Today?

Despite today’s ease of data transportation, there are still physical materials that will always need to be safely transported from point A to point B. Most people’s first interaction with a pneumatic tube system is a bank drive-thru, where clients and tellers exchange cash and checks (and maybe a lollipop if you’re lucky). However, the financial industry isn’t the only industry that uses tubes to move cash. Retailers, logistics firms, warehouses, and casinos rely on pneumatic tubes to move cash, documents, and other materials.

In the healthcare industry, hospitals, pharmacies, clinics, and labs use tube systems to move drugs, blood samples, documents, vials, and other sensitive materials.

Other industries that use pneumatic tubes include manufacturing plants, foundries, truck stations, dispensaries, and QA/QC processing facilities. Just about any organization that needs to move product safely and quickly throughout a building, campus, or complex can benefit from pneumatic tubes.

Looking for A Custom-Built Pneumatic Tube System? We Can Help.

Aerocom takes a customized approach when designing a system for our clients. Each system is tailored specifically to your facility’s needs to assist you with the most efficient workflow process possible. To learn how we can improve your operations with a state-of-the-art pneumatic tube system, contact us today.

Why Choose Aerocom USA?

Custom Solutions

We work with trained architects to design, manufacture, and install custom systems that are the perfect fit for your organization.

Durable Products

We develop high-quality systems and products with the widest range of user features and reliability.

24/7 Support Line

We’re dedicated to keeping your system in perfect working order. Our team is available around the clock to fulfill maintenance requests and answer questions.

Experience You Can Trust

We work with trained architects to design, manufacture, and install custom systems that are the perfect fit for your organization.