The food industry relies on mechanical conveyors to move and process materials far faster and cheaper than can be done with manual labor. Read on to learn all about mechanical conveyor belts, vibratory screeners, and the other machines that make large-scale food processing possible and thus help us to feed the world.
What Kinds of Conveyors Are There?
Conveyor belts can be made in nearly any size or style that a situation demands. They can take materials of all shapes and weights up, down, and all around a plant, and many also contain either vibratory screeners or loop systems that allow them to transport food in curves and around obstacles.
Belt conveyors are the simplest and most widely used and are simply a continuous surface of rubber, nylon, or polyester. The material a belt is made from must be easy to clean for food applications.
Vibratory screeners allow certain materials to pass through as it moves forward along a trough. Sometimes vibratory screeners are associated with tumbling drums or a food crusher as well. The size and speed at which the vibratory screeners vibrate determine the size of particle that can pass through the screen.
The screw conveyor is made up of pieces fixed to a pipe or shaft which is inside a trough or tube. Material that piles up at one end is pushed through the trough by the turning screw action. Screws can also be made flexible if needed, so they can take food around obstacles as necessary.
How Manufacturers Choose a Belt
Food manufacturers have to make smart choices about the best belts for their needs. With that in mind, here are a few questions that have to be answered whenever choosing a conveyor belt for food processing.
- What has to be transported? In other words, what size and shape will it be? How bulky or dense, and will it be abrasive or wet? Will it be dusty? Flammable?
- Where is the material coming from and where is it going? Will it be coming from something enormous, like a silo, or from individual bags? Off a truck? Then, where will be going? Off to be individually packaged? Into a giant vat? All these issues affect the choice of a conveyer belt.
- How far does everything have to go, and how fast? Does the material have to go vertically or around bends? How quickly or slowly does it need to pass?
- What will the warehouse or factory be like? Will it be dusty or are there hazardous materials around that food items need to be protected from? How will the conveyor be sanitized?
These are just a few of the things that have to be thought about before getting a conveyor belt for use in the food industry. These devices are a critical part of the food production and processing industry.
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