Updated: Nov 24, 2022
Through our work in manufacturing conveyor systems for the food industry in the uk, we have noticed many mistakes that customers tend to make in choosing their equipment.
Choosing carefully, the right conveyors, and conveyor system for food processing and manufacturing is essential when it comes to safety. Here at Central Conveyors Ltd, we have many years worth of experience in designing, building, and installing conveyors for the food industry, so in this blog, we share some of the key things to avoid when considering your next bespoke conveyor system.
The World Health Organisation believes that each year worldwide, unsafe food causes 600 million cases of foodborne diseases. To this end choosing a suitable conveyor system is critical in supporting a sanitary food chain. Food conveyor systems need to have the ability to be sanitised, to be cleaned down to a level where disease and germs can be illuminated to a safe level, and pass safety inspections when they occur. They also need to be readily maintained and inspected.
Let's have a look at things you must be aware of and avoid when choosing your food conveyor system:
1) Stainless steel is great (think food grade for this type of install) and it is a key material used in food and drink conveyor systems. It is easy to clean and robust.
However don't fall into the trap of thinking that it is required across the whole system, because this may not be the case. There have been price fluctuations with the cost of stainless steel recently so you need to be aware of the cost implications of using stainless steel throughout when lower-grade materials could be safe and usable depending on the case in hand. Food moving on the belt itself would potentially come into contact with the system, so that needs consideration and material that is suitable, but things such as the frame not as much, as they are not in contact with the food. Cost needs to be a consideration, so choosing the right materials throughout the system is important.
2) Not all Stainless Steel and Plastic are food grade so keep that in mind when having planning discussions around your conveyor system. The stainless steel used, needs to be resistant to corrosion, and oxidisation and needs to be easily cleaned. Bacteria will easily breed and debris will easily get caught up in the wrong type of conveyor system, and this is something to be avoided for safety reasons.
3) There will be parts of the system that need to be lubricated and maintained with lubricants over time. Here at Central Conveyors Ltd, when we design the conveyor system we always ensure with food conveyors, that consideration is given to the placement of elements that will need lubrication, to ensure that they won't come into direct contact with the sensitive food areas. Some lubricants are food grade so that should also be a consideration in the planning stage.
4) Ensure that you get the right conveyor system for the job. The belt conveyor is often used in this area because it runs smooth and can cover large areas to support the processing of food, they are also easy to clean. Wire mesh is also used in the food industry, particularly when a temperature change is required in the process. Conveyors with troughs are also common to stop food material from spilling when traveling.
5) Cleaning the system is often an afterthought, something that is not thought of as a top 3 in terms of requirements, but in the case of food conveyors, the reverse is true. Thinking about cleanliness and maintainability in the design process is essential and needs to be a primary consideration in the way the system is planned and thought about. It becomes integral to the design. Limiting points in the system where drag can occur and debris can be caught is also important. These food systems often have to be cleaned daily, so they also need to be robust and resistant, too that extra added pressure.