Having worked hand-in-hand with the food and drink sector for more than 20 years, we are able to apply our knowledge to creating solutions which enhance our customers’ operations.
Our project engineer Mark Walt has had first-hand experience of working on a factory floor in a food processing facility. He combines this with his specialist fabrication knowledge to create innovative conveyor systems that meet the needs of customers.
Here, Mark lists just some of the considerations and solutions those in the food and drink processing sector should be aware of when selecting a conveyor system.
When you’re considering a factory fit out in a food and drink manufacturing facility, the material you use will play an important role. There are a number of health and safety steps you need to take and the first step is selecting the right material for your conveyor system.
Across the industry, stainless steel is most commonly used material because it is easy to clean and therefore easier to make hygienic. It also shows up any marks / dirt clearly: even the slightest finger marks are highly visible on this metal. And as stainless steel is a strong and durable metal, it is able to withstand the abrasive cleaning routines required in the food industry.
Once your material is selected, the design of the conveyor and the belt should be next on your agenda. There should be no open holes / slots where food items may become lodged, or hard to reach areas or small holes which can make the conveyor difficult to clean.
When we come to specifying a belt for a conveyor there’s no ‘one size fits all’ approach as the best type of belt for the job is dependent on what’s being transported on it and also how it reaches the belt. For example, we were recently asked to look at a conveyor where the product (not a food item in this case, but wood chip) was dropping on to the belt from a height and as it was landing it was chipping away at the belt. We weren’t the original installers of the belt but applied our specialist knowledge to investigate the problem. We reviewed the situation, where the product was being dropped from 2m above and recommended a high impact plastic belt as a solution.
Often when you’re dealing with raw product you need to be extra vigilant for contaminants which is why we would recommend a metal detectable blue belt, which has fibres in the fabric that can highlight anything that shouldn’t be there.
This is also why belts are often either blue and white are as they can help to show up any contaminants on the belt, even when it doesn’t feature a metal detector.
In addition to the points above there are other solutions that we often work on with our customers to further ensure health and safety compliance, such as social distancing screens, screens for protections against laser scanners and other automation elements to ensure that the conveyor solution is fit for purpose and optimised to increase output and minimise downtime.
To find out more about our solutions and talk through any challenges you’re having contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 0191 491 0771.
Our team of specialist designers, engineers and fabricators can work with you to create a new conveyor system or an addition to your current set up to improve your processes.
You can see further examples of our work on our case studies page.