This article originally appeared in Food Manufacturing's May/June 2015 print edition.
The Food Manufacturing Brainstorm features industry experts sharing their perspectives on issues critical to the overall food industry marketplace.
In part four of this five-part series, we ask: What are the latest trends in conveying related to the food industry?
Blake Svejkovsky, Product Handling Systems Manager, Heat and Control, Inc., answered:
Look for the latest technology in safe conveyors that are sanitation-friendly, reduce cross contamination, maintain product quality, facilitate proportional product feeding, and reduce costs for operation and maintenance.
In response to customers’ needs for gentler, more responsive conveyor systems, equipment manufacturers are developing new designs that move product quickly, cause less damage, and provide an operator-friendly workplace.
Horizontal motion: For many foods, particularly fragile snacks and coated products, horizontal motion has become the conveyor of choice over vibratory models. Although better suited for grading, sizing, spreading, and moving sticky foods, the bouncing motion of vibratory conveyors causes breakage and stress fractures, and shakes seasonings and coatings off foods. Horizontal motion eliminates these problems by sliding product in the conveyor pan. This prevents build-ups of oil and seasonings in the conveyor pan and the frequent downtime needed for cleaning. Horizontal motion maintains pre-mixed blends. Some models can even convey up slight inclines. Horizontal motion also transmits less vibration, allowing the use of less structurally complex support platforms. Even running with product, horizontal motion conveyors operate far quieter than vibratory models, usually in the low 70 dB range.
Long runs for less breakage: The latest horizontal motion conveyors can handle heavier pans for runs up to 100 feet long using a single drive. The lack of transfer points helps reduce product breakage. Users also benefit from lower equipment purchase and maintenance costs since one drive can cover distances the previously required three or more.
Real time full proportional product delivery: Rotary product distribution gates and direct communication between weighers/packaging machines and conveyor systems now enable on incoming supply of product to be diverted to multiple locations with no starvation of downstream equipment. When used to feed multiple seasoning applicators, these conveyor systems allow different flavors to be applied simultaneously. Less warehousing, faster order fulfillment, and longer, more efficient machine run times are a few of the benefits.