Transmission system and conveyor belt in food and beverage

In the current financial environment, in order to produce safe food and beverage, conveyor suppliers must strive to meet the urgent needs of customers in terms of speed, quality, price and safety. Some experts have compiled a list of customer needs:

1) Clean the design to minimize cracks, openings, dents, and edges to avoid residue spillage;
2) Reliable and trustworthy;
3) Design that is easy to maintain;
4) Competitive prices;
5) Save energy.

If this is not enough, here are the customer requirements summarized by Boyce Bonham, Director of R&D at Hytrol Systems. Because of the limited space in the factory, the food and beverage processor's requirements for carton delivery are: low-pressure distributed drive systems. His customers wanted to install several horizontal and vertical conveyors separately, and there was no shortest straight-line distance in the corners of the conveyor. In addition, customers do not want to add lubricants, chain slots, reducers and routine maintenance requirements. There is no need to stock up too many spare parts, parts can be hot swapped to reduce downtime.

Traditional belts should have no sound, and when they are empty, they should stop moving.

Many processors strive to reduce the noise of operation. Teri Johnson, global sales manager at Key Technology, said she often heard customers mention that the drive noise of the conveyor belt should not exceed 80 decibels.

Clark Hicks, sales manager for product delivery systems at Heat and Control, also added two Other customers' requests: a lightweight take-off and data acquisition system. Through the data acquisition system, operators can accurately understand the operational performance of the equipment. If repairs are needed, the system can notify the technicians at the first time to find the place where the error occurred and solve the problem in time.

Conveyor belt

The choice of conveyor belt depends on the specific application, and the conveyor belt is mainly used in processing, packaging or stacking. The usual types are: combination plastic, urethane, wire mesh and hardened type. Generally speaking, the conveyor belt has two sliding modes: friction and toothed chain.

“The strength and performance of the conveyor belt is very important, and the processor usually chooses according to the needs of the product,” said Jon Lasecki, chief engineer at Ashworth. “In addition, the processor will also pay attention to the maintenance cycle and cleaning problems of the conveyor belt.” And plastic conveyor belts are not only rugged, but also have a long service life, which also increases system efficiency and reduces maintenance time and costs.

According to reports, polyurethane conveyor belts are very suitable for protein-containing products. In the past few years, there have been more and more types of such products. Polyurethane conveyor belts are very easy to clean and require less manpower, water and energy for cleaning than other types of conveyor belts. Therefore, it is also very suitable for ready-to-eat foods.

In recent years, the demand for conveyor belts has focused on slip resistance and ease of cleaning. According to Andy Quist, quality manager at Mol Belting Systems, the company has developed a blend that is very strong and does not require hinges or studs and is driven by chain gears.

In the application of packaging, plastic chain suppliers continue to strive to optimize product design to improve overall performance. Plastic chains are often used to tilt or bend up and down to circumvent obstacles in the workshop. In order to meet these requirements, the common specifications for plastic chains are: add product type, lift type, uphill type, downhill type and turn type. The maximum transfer speed can be up to 260fpm when cornering.

There are times when a tension belt and a sprocket belt are required. There are currently hundreds of such belts on the market. Know the performance of these belts and choose the best type to meet the needs of some special applications.

Rick Milner, technical service representative for Wire Belt, said that for some cooking, baking and quick-frozen food processing, temperature-sensitive conveyor belts such as plastics, textiles and polyurethanes cannot be used. The metal mesh can transport food that needs to be heated or cooled without being damaged. But relatively speaking, the metal mesh is relatively heavy and the mesh is not particularly large.

“In order to solve the problem of overweight, we found a design that would prevent a lot of air flow on the conveyor belt,” Milner said. If the mesh is larger, the time required to heat or cool can be shortened and energy consumption is less. Milner introduced an application case for Alabama. A local processor changed a new belt with a larger mesh, which dropped to minus 140-180 °F when passing through a nitrogen-cooled tunnel. The conveyor belt has a larger mesh, which saves a lot of nitrogen.

Although plastic belts with special blends are still not able to withstand temperatures of 300 °F, they can be used in environments between -50 °F and 110 °F. This conveyor belt can also be used for processing applications of ready-to-eat or frozen foods due to air flow.

Cleaner frame

Undoubtedly, today's advanced technology has greatly shortened the installation time of the transmission system.

“With laser cutting and CNC bending technology, the modular frame design can significantly shorten the commissioning time of traditional metal frames and directly provide a suitable factory solution,” said Greg Jacob, general manager of Allpax products.

“The focus of the frame design is on the balance of weight (minimizing investment costs and floor space) and improving equipment quality and reliability,” Johnson said. The 3D model is more conducive to the overall design, especially the support framework and certification issues before actual production. The key analysis model tool helps determine the minimum amount of material. Robot welders provide smooth and uniform weld quality and save on the amount of excipients. The intersections are all tilted or turned to avoid dead ends.

In frame design, hygiene requirements are critical: simple, visible, dead angles, minimal horizontal, open and easy to clean. If you can incorporate these requirements into the frame design, you can meet the hygiene requirements. In addition, the safety of the operator must also be taken into account. Moving parts such as hinged gears must be sealed, and security personnel must keep food hygiene in mind.

Plastic conveyor belts are relatively easy to clean because they contain SS slots. The tubular conveyor belt is closed by itself, thus avoiding contact with the outside world. The tubular tow conveyor belt is very gentle in handling the product and is suitable for frozen foods. Due to the short cleaning time, it can be adapted even if the processed products are frequently replaced.

According to reports, many conveyor belts need to be removed from the conveyor system during cleaning and then placed in the sink for cleaning. And now, very few people will be willing to adopt this approach. With a seamless conveyor belt, you can use a water spray to clean. In addition, the conveyor belt can be lifted to clean it to the bottom.

Each CIP system must be designed to match the application environment and conveyor type. In the case of protein-containing products, valves, nozzles and nozzles must be hygienic in design. The goal of cleaning is to remove all impurities or product particles that have accumulated on the conveyor belt. The cleaned conveyor belt can be returned to the raw material area for material transfer. There is a nozzle at the frame and outlet of the conveyor. The two nozzles work together to complete the cleaning task.

Sending information

Automated food processing and packaging lines have become more popular in recent years, with processed products that can be replaced frequently, with greater yield and flexibility. Therefore, the transmission system is also more flexible.

The conveyor system equipped with a servo drive system is free to control the transfer speed and is connected to the monitoring system to monitor the appearance and color of the product. The servo drive system also controls conveyors, weighing machines, monitoring systems, industrial sensors, frequency converters and drives.

The distributed control system reduces the incidence of line faults and can be simulated before installation. Processors can get a real understanding of the operation of the transfer control system before installation.

Through the control of the conveyor can effectively improve product quality, production and production line operation efficiency. The control system is small in size and has no floor space concerns. Ethernet and wireless systems can now further extend the role of the control system and remotely connect to individual plant networks.

In the application of retort foods, it is critical to track the product through the delivery system to ensure that the material is heat treated prior to packaging. It is now also possible to add complex product tracking systems to the delivery system. In addition, because the price difference between the inverter and the traditional motor starter is not large, many processors will prefer a slightly higher price, but smarter, more flexible inverter technology.

The collection of information from the transport system does not affect the operation of the computer on the engineering floor. According to reports, many processors connect these data to the factory ERP system, and the two can communicate with each other, which was unimaginable in the past. Tight connections to each other are very helpful for real-time production planning.

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