Food processing

Food Processing: Choosing the Right Conveyor Belt Material

Belt materials may look similar in their raw form, but they can have completely different compositions. This is high among those critical choices that can make or break your plant’s productivity. Seriously. No food manufacturer can efficiently optimize the conveyors in a factory without carefully considering what belt material should be used in a given area.

And be honest. Don’t you just want your belts to work properly and not have to worry about them? The consequences of poor selection can include belt breaks, unplanned downtime, lower performance, higher costs, material degradation, and foreign material contamination.

To avoid some or all of the above, food processors and equipment manufacturers should choose belt materials wisely. How? ‘Or’ What? To find out, they interviewed the experts who develop, test and recommend belt materials for their food customers.

What are the key factors in choosing the right conveyor belt material?

Application

Does the belt have to withstand strong shocks? What about temperatures, which can range from deep frying to freezing? Will the belt be submerged in an immersion tank? Examine your specific application and determine what the belt will be traversed at this point in the processing chain. It can help answer many critical questions about the best material.

Drew Downer, Mechanical Engineer Intralox ThermoDrive:

“Potato processing plants, for example, are a unique environment where it is crucial to focus on the specifics of the application.”

The raw product could enter the plant with sand or dirt coming from outside. On leaving the peeler, the potatoes release starch which is put into the application. The product can go through a boiling oil bath and eventually cover with seasonings and spices. Each application brings different temperature, physical and chemical considerations.

Drew Downer:

“The belt material you choose must be the right size to withstand the impacts associated with each application. Ask yourself how this specific application is unique and different from other areas of the plant? “

Environment

Sometimes the answer is obvious. (Don’t place belts known to be flammable near hot objects!) Besides ovens, there are many environmental factors inside a food factory to consider.

Stephen O’Connor, Intralox Materials Specialist:

“The actual environment the belt will be in will determine what materials it is even possible to use. I start by asking, what is this belt going to see in terms of temperature? as mechanical resistance? Could there be expansion of the belt material due to moisture? “

Drew Downer:

“Ultimately, the goal is sustainable, reliable and safe availability of food. This is what we are trying to accomplish with our tape materials, as well as the selection, development and deployment of those in the field. “

Also consider how cleaning solutions can affect your belt. Imagine a meat, poultry or seafood processing plant that has to disinfect its carpets every night. His sanitation team have been using the same disinfectant for some time, which hasn’t been a problem for the plastics in their belts.

Suddenly they are given a different disinfectant to use. The new product calls for a lower concentration, but the team is unaware and continues to use it at a higher concentration level.

Stephen O’Connor:

“Even small adjustments in the actual chemistry of your cleaner can completely change the performance of your belt after a cleaning.”

To guide you, rely on the expertise of your belt partner. They have the knowledge and insight to recommend hardware that will work seamlessly and reliably in your environment.

Product

Is there something unique about the transported product? For example, let’s say your establishment deals with foods that may be sticky. Certain polymers are better suited to release products during transfer. In this case, choosing the right belt material can help increase efficiency and reduce transfer.

Likewise, abrasive ingredients such as sugar or cornmeal can wear down and degrade belts that are not designed to withstand rough or gritty foods. But there are materials created specifically to withstand these types of harsh products.

Your product is always a priority for you, so keep this in mind when selecting the material for your conveyor belt. Since the tape is in direct contact with food, its physical and chemical properties should influence your decision on which material to use.

Your plant benefits from using correctly specified conveyor belt material.

Before your next belt purchase, consider its application, the environmental conditions in the area, the specifics of the product being transported, and even how the belts will be stored prior to use. It will be time well spent. Why?

Better performance, longer belt life, higher product yield, less maintenance, lower costs and reduced risk of failure are some of the benefits you can expect from choosing the right material from. conveyor belt.

Of all the potential problems that can arise in a food processing facility, your choice of belt material does not have to be the cause. Consult your belt partner and the equipment manufacturer early in the process. They can work together and with you to make the right choice.

Then, in the words of legendary inventor Ron Popeil, you can ‘set it and forget it’.