Smart conveyors for maximum operational efficiency

In today’s competitive environment food and beverage manufacturers want robust material handling solutions to ensure trouble free and low cost operations. They want flexible conveyor systems that can be easily adapted to deal with continuously changing consumer demands and new product introductions.

A typical food producer would have around 200 SKUs with up to 12 active items in production at any point in time. This requires smart conveyor systems to handle multiple lines operating at different speeds and carrying various pack sizes around the factory floor. Solutions must be operator friendly, allow for rapid change over, and be easy to maintain and clean to minimise valuable downtime. From an engineering design perspective material handling systems must be able to deal with high volume and capacity, optimise floor space, and meet strict mechanical and electrical requirements for improved production efficiency. Manufacturers also expect long life-expectancy and fast installation to reduce ramp-up time.

These elements combined present a complex scenario requiring industry know-how, engineering expertise and high quality modular systems to offer a robust solution. FlexCAM, a full service conveyor system specialist understands these needs too well having worked with several major food producers over the past 20 years in Australia and New Zealand. Total cost of ownership (TCO) and overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) are two key performance factors for FMCG manufacturers, says Steve Alcorn, Managing Director of FlexCAM Australia and New Zealand. “Our engineered solutions offer our customers on average 25 per cent reduction in cleaning time, up to 40% increase in floor space and a minimum of 98 per cent operating efficiency. Our ability to conduct simulation on our in house CAD tool enables us to test our designs and make changes to optimise production flows, ” says Alcorn.

Conveyors go beyond just moving products from one machine to the next. Well-designed conveyors are engineered to add value at every step of the manufacturing process to improve overall operational efficiency, safety and cleanliness.

Enmin electromagnetic drives suitable for range of industries

Enmin’s range of electromagnetic vibratory feeders has a new way of controlling the flow of product, parts and bulk materials. Products can be screened, sized, or accurately metered to ensure a smooth, uniform and fully variable flow.

Enmin’s EMA drives utilise the power of electromagnetic energy to generate a vibratory force to the conveying tray of the vibratory feeder providing stability, control and accuracy in the delivery of product to a secondary process. The cyclic operation is simply controlled from a range of electronic controllers that will vary the feeding rate in a manner to suit the specific application.

Enmin’s extensive range of models and tray configurations will convey a vast range of different sized products and ingredients and are suitable for basic to complex applications.

Enmin’s drives are designed to provide years of trouble-free operation with minimal moving parts, next to no on-going maintenance and best of all, low energy consumption, ensuring a reliable, low cost method of product handling.

“All Enmin drives are designed and constructed to meet the rigorous requirements of the food and pharmaceutical industries such as maximum hygiene, ease of cleaning and continuous 24/7 operation,” said Enmin general manager, Anthony Gallaher.

The drives maintain constant flow into elevating and belt conveyors, multi-head weigh scales, filling and seasoning applications. The conveying-by-vibration method provides smooth product transfer without degradation.

“We are the only company manufacturing electromagnetic drives in Australia and our many years in application experience will ensure the right drive is nominated for the tray requirements and process,” Gallaher added.

“In addition to the food industry, virtually any industry that handles dry bulk material, processed products or parts can employ the use of an EMA drive. Our drives have been successfully utilised in the metals, ceramics, chemical and plastics industries in an extensive array of applications.”

As with their EMA drives, most of Enmin’s product range is designed and manufactured in Australia. This allows for individual design and customisation, expert local advice, consistency of supply and outstanding back-up and support.

“As part of our ongoing product development and response to customer requests,  new products are being developed that utilise our EMA drives. These include an electromagnetic bowl feeder range (EMA-BF) and a bin vibrator (EMA-BV),” said Gallaher.

Enmin’s range of product handling and vibratory equipment includes the Mi-CON modular conveyor – the first ever hygienically designed full wash down system to offer multiple standardised components – plus a range of hopper feeders and screeners, spiral conveyors, conditioning conveyors and more.

Conveyor components designed to increase productivity

Marbett is one of several Rexnord global brands with production facilities in Italy offering a range of complementary conveyor components to meet a factory’s application requirements. Whether it is a chain guide, product handling, frame support, or balancing and supporting components, Rexnord has the parts to optimise a conveyor system.

When it comes to providing highly engineered products that improve productivity and efficiency for product-handling applications, Rexnord offers a portfolio of MatTop and TableTop conveyor chain and Marbett conveyor components. These solutions are designed to continuously improve productivity for customers in a variety of industries including automotive, food, beverage, warehouse/distribution and container handling. For instance, Rexnord’s FlatTop chain performance is maximised when used with low-friction, low-wear Rexnord Marbett chain guide-return solutions.

The Marbett product line can be split into application segments:

Chain guide components
• low wear for extended chain and wear strip life;
• low friction for low chain pull and energy savings;
• high-speed capability for increased productivity and optimised performance;
• bi-material return rollers for reduced noise and high-speed capabilities; and
• low total cost of ownership through reduced downtime, maintenance and replacement costs.

Product handling components
• low friction roller side guides increase efficiency by preventing costly container damage and discards due to product tippage;
• specific profile design to ensure product stability and throughput; and
• ideal for container, package and beverage handling applications.

Frame support components
• modular design eliminates need for welding, minimises assembly time and reduces conveyor construction costs;
• strong and rigid design with declared mechanical values;
• high-performance materials designed to meet the most demanding and unique applications;
• easy-to-clean design meets sanitation requirements; and
• high corrosion and chemical resistance.

Supporting and levelling elements
Different materials in plastic or steel, fixed or articulated, with or without gripper base and vibration absorbing feet.

Self-aligning bearings
Square, oval, pillow-block, side flange and multiple other variations, with open or closed options, waterproof housing, capable of compensating misalignment up to two degrees.

A range of fixtures and fittings, from hinges to locks to roller transfer plates.

Avoid unplanned downtime
Nothing costs a business like unplanned downtime. When a conveyor belt goes down, the entire operation grinds to a halt. Rexnord’s specialised components are built to withstand common issues like belt degradation, abrasive wear, and belt damage caused by high heat and sanitising procedures. Its conveyer products are designed to help users avoid unplanned downtime, improve energy and water consumption, maximise productivity, reduce waste, and increase safety. They are easy to install and operate, with the company’s highly engineered conveying solutions designed to extend the life of components, while offering smooth running conveying conditions.

Efficient conveyors for food and beverage manufacturing

E-Plas, a specialist in engineering and industrial plastics, has expanded its product set to include additional conveying options. The company, established in 1981, now offers more comprehensive solutions for customers that need efficient conveyor systems in their food and beverage manufacturing facilities.

E-Plas national operations manager, Sean Kelly, said the company is able to supply a range of markets – from mining and bulk handling, to the food and beverage sector. “In 2017, E-Plas serviced one of the largest suppliers of quality chemical products to the Australian market. Being an aerosol filling plant – the conveying system required a special anti-static conveyor chain system to eliminate the potential of static discharges, which was further incorporated with the Tivar1000 Anti-Static Wear strip material to minimise any potentials of static discharges,” said Kelly.

The Tivar 1000 Anti-Static Electro Static Dissipative (ESD) material helps manufacturers achieve high line speeds and conveying rates. The anti-static properties are achieved by incorporating efficient carbon black and proprietary additives into the material. The Tivar 1000 Anti-Static ESD grades handle tough conditions where dust and static electricity can cause problems.

The material is ideal to use when potentially volatile conditions exist, such as those in grain elevators and munitions plants, effectively safeguarding against static discharges. In addition, it resists heat and protects robotics and other products that are sensitive to dust accumulation and electrical charge build up. It can be used in belt guides, guiding and conveyor components, chute liners, transfer tables, trough liners and discharge spout liners.

“E-Plas is also working to supply abrasion-resistant polycarbonate sheets to a food manufacturing company in their wash down bays,” said Kelly. “The customer has traditionally used UV2 polycarbonate sheets, which has a lower chemical resistance. Our abrasion-resistant sheets have a silicon coating, which makes it more chemical and scratch resistant.”

E-Plas helps cover food manufacturing needs as well as packaging needs. “We have a wide range of products for the packaging and conveying markets, the majority of which are suitable for food contact,” said Kelly.

Polycarbonate, for example, is used for machinery safety guarding. The high impact-resistant material is lightweight, easy to fabricate, and is food industry approved for glazing and guarding applications. Having 250 times the impact-resistance of glass and 30 times that of acrylic, polycarbonate is almost unbreakable.

The Tivar UHMW-PE is a good solution for conveyor beds, tracks and wear strips, said Kelly. “Nylon and acetal are used for more aggressive applications, as well as PTFE for higher temperature areas.”

Nylon is a partially crystalline thermoplastic and is known as the workhorse of engineering plastics due to its variety of properties. Because of its good mechanical strength, abrasion resistance, chemical, thermal and low-friction properties, it has earned a reputation as an excellent bearing material. Hardness and strength, yet toughness and tenacity are the combination that makes nylon versatile and the solution for many difficult applications.

Acetals, also known as polyoxy-methylene or polyformaldehyde, exhibit predictable mechanical, chemical and electrical properties over a broad temperature range for long periods of time. The high crystallinity of acetals impart excellent creep resistance under continuous load and fatigue endurance under repeated loading and unloading cycles.

Unfilled grades are hard, strong and stiff, and have good toughness although they show some notch sensitivity. Low coefficient of friction and good chemical resistance are also standard features combined with their inherent dimensional stability. Acetals, homopolymer and copolymer, are available in a number of commercial stock shape grades, each having specific properties, however, the copolymer grade has the better broad range optimum benefits.

Narrow-gap Segmented Transfer Plates for conveyor belts

Flexco has introduced a Segmented Transfer Plate with options from 3.8cm to 7.6cm gaps between conveyor belts. Segmented Transfer Plates prevent product and foreign object debris from jamming in the transfer, minimising product and belt damage, increasing efficiency, and eliminating downtime. This new extension to the Segmented Transfer Plate line has several unique features, allowing it to be installed into narrower gaps.

Segmented Transfer Plates are designed to cover the gap between conveyors that are positioned belt-to-belt, belt-to-chute, belt-to-roller and for power turns. Available for belt widths up to 1500 mm, the transfer plates protect packages and other products from damage, while preventing belt tears and other damage from lodged foreign objects.

“The individual segments of the Segmented Transfer Plate are designed to release under extreme pressure in the rare instance when a product momentarily lodges between the belt and the segment,” said Beth Miller, director of light-duty marketing of Flexco.  “A single segment section releases, but the remaining segment pieces remain intact and continue to protect the operational efficiencies of your customers.”

The original design featured paired segments to accommodate gap widths 100 mm-250 mm. The new, narrow-gap option accommodates 38 mm-75 mm gaps. Molded-in ribs on the segment surface reduce friction up to 10 per cent and allow packages to transition over the plates.

Segmented Transfer Plates are ideal for use in parcel sortation operations, distribution centers, fulfillment centers, warehousing and airports.

Installation of Segmented Transfer Plates is easy, with flexible mounting options that can be bolted or welded in place. Segments that snap right on to the support bar also make routine maintenance quicker and easier.

Flexco will display the products in May at MEGATRANS2018.


Smalte Conveyor Solutions collaborates with Nord Drivesystems to deliver

Smalte Conveyor Solutions recently supplied a quote for 23 stainless conveyors used to carry dips and spreads from a production area into a packing area – and then into an HMPS Case Packer.

Rob Winterbottom, Smalte Conveying Solutions Sales Manager, said that the initial quote was out of the client’s budget but that the team approached the job in a slightly different manner to best satisfy the customer’s needs.

“We decided to split the system into stainless steel in the production area and aluminium conveyors in the packing area which provided significant cost benefits to the client,” he said.

During the time of quoting, Smalte Conveying Solutions was visited by the team at NORD Drivesystems who advised them on an alternative to its competitors. “During the meeting, NORD’s nsd tupH geared motor with its sealed surface came up and I immediately saw this as a match for a client with very stringent hygiene requirements,” said Winterbottom.

In identifying the opportunity, NORD’s nsd tupH drive ticked all the boxes for the client’s production area such as; a cleaner design with the added benefit of using standard flanges in case of urgent breakdowns and availability of parts, and its suitability to harsh wash-downs.

“We met with our client and suggested the use of NORD’s drives for their application. The client could immediately see the benefits and awarded us with the contract on the same day,” said Winterbottom.

Thirteen conveyors were provided in the first stage with a second order received for an additional 11 conveyors. “All new Smalte Conveyors will now be supplied with NORD geared motors with the nsd tupH surface protection throughout the facility for standardisation purposes. We have a happy client and we are also very happy with the performance of these drives thus far,” said Winterbottom.


Conveying goods precisely and quickly with igus knife edge rollers

Knife edge rollers from igus are offering optimum results in high speed conveying applications through precise and quick movement of goods, especially in constrained spaces.

Gentle and speedy transport of goods is critical in the materials handling and packaging industry. When conveyor belts have to be deflected with precision in narrow spaces with narrow radii, knife edge rollers from igus offer a cost-effective, lubrication-free and maintenance-free solution. Developed by igus from the high performance plastic iglidur H1 material especially for belt deflections in applications involving high transport speeds, the new knife edge rollers not only deliver better performance at higher conveying speeds but also have a very long service life even at high temperatures.

Since the rollers are exposed to aggressive cleaning media, the use of the chemically resistant iglidur H1 material delivers an important advantage to the application. These rollers are, therefore, particularly suitable for the packaging, materials handling, automation and food technology sectors.

The use of iglidur H1 in the latest knife edge rollers expands the igus range to a total of four materials. To implement exact deflection of conveyor belts, igus has developed a standard range for different application areas.

In addition to the new iglidur H1 for high transport speeds, igus offers the universally applicable iglidur P210, as well as the FDA-compliant material iglidur A180 for temperatures up to 90 degrees Celsius, and iglidur A350 for application environments with temperatures of up to 180 degrees Celsius, both of which are particularly suitable for use in the food industry.

All the rollers are characterised by a compact design and long service life, thus contributing to the high efficiency of the machines.

Enhanced vibratory conveyors

Key Technology introduces new features that enhance their vibratory conveyors – Iso-Flo, Impulse, Horizon and Marathon – for food processing and packaging lines.

Together with established features that promote food safety and equipment durability, the innovative new grounding arm, label stand-offs, sanitary drives and Vector-Lock Gen 2 ease use, reduce maintenance and maximise sanitation.

Key’s new patented grounding arm is made of a single stainless steel structure. Unlike braided wire rope with crevasses, which can harbor bacteria and a crimped ferrule that can fail, the single structure, smooth texture and open design of the new grounding arm enhance sanitation and improve durability. Mounted to Key’s StrongArm spring arms to dissipate static between the conveyor bed and frame, this grounding arm presents no horizontal surfaces where liquid, product or particulates can pool. It comes standard on new conveyors and can be retrofitted to existing systems in the field.

Label stand-offs are superior to traditional riveted plaques, which can trap bacteria, and adhesive stickers, which can peel off after repeated exposure to washdowns. Each conveyor’s identification, specifications and stroke indicator are laser-etched or stamped onto stainless steel and the colorful ISO safety pictogram labels utilize epoxy based baked finish over stainless steel. All these new labels consume less surface area and are attached to the conveyor with stand-offs to reduce laminations, which eases cleaning and improves sanitation.

The oil-free drives that can be used to power Key’s vibratory conveyors have been redesigned. A smaller footprint and a more open mount, which reduce the lamination area, make these maintenance-free drives more sanitary.

The new Vector-Lock Gen 2, used to secure removable screens and covers on Key’s vibratory conveyors, eases use and achieves better clamping. With a larger hook, a bigger radius and additional over-center latching for more positive engagement, this new Vector-Lock clamp enables quick release and quick closing while maximizing load carrying capabilities to secure screens and covers on even the heaviest conveyor systems that handle today’s highest capacities. Simplified geometry makes the new clamp easier to latch, inspect and maintain. It is interchangeable with previous generation Vector-Lock screen clamps and compatible with legacy conveyor platforms, so customers with installed systems can upgrade their conveyors in the field.

All of Key’s vibratory conveyors are inherently sanitary, presenting a stainless steel bed surface that is easy to clean. They are backed by Key’s five-year warranty, which ensures equipment reliability and limits the processor’s total cost of ownership.

Integrated cleaning line bears fruit

Emblème Canneberge was started in 2016 by several Canadian growers to add value by offering frozen cranberries of exceptional quality. To equip their world-class production facility, they turned to Key Technology for a cranberry cleaning line. This integrated solution removes foreign material (FM) such as sticks, leaves, fines and stones, as well as berries that are too small, soft or rotten, while good fruit is washed and dried to a humidity of less than one percent.

“We selected Key Technology because they have the most experience in our industry and the best reputation. All of our customers have very high standards in the specifications of the berries they want, and Key helps us achieve those high standards,” said Vincent Godin, President of Emblème. “Our cleaning line removes foreign material as well as rotten cranberries, which would impair the quality of the good fruit in the freezer if not removed. This line is also very efficient at removing water to produce free-flowing product that’s easy to separate after freezing for further processing.”

Leveraging Key’s expertise in product handling and processing, this integrated cleaning line uses a variety of mechanical processes to elevate Emblème’s product quality while maximizing yield and consistently feeding downstream equipment. The Iso-Flo scalping shaker, air cleaner and Iso-Flo fines removal shaker eliminate unwanted FM from the product stream. The recently updated brush washer removes small, soft and rotten berries at the same time it washes good berries. The Iso-Flo dewatering shaker with air knives dries the good berries so they freeze efficiently and are easily processed later.


“We wanted an integrated line because having one source ensures the fit and function. Key built each machine so one drops product smoothly into the other. Because they are made to work together, installation and start-up was easy and the line runs efficiently,” explained Godin. “High efficiency is incredibly important to us, because we run two shifts a day, seven days a week during our six-week harvest to process 26 million pounds of product on this cleaning line.”

Built for rugged reliability and superior sanitation using Key’s versatile Iso-Flo vibratory design, the cleaning line at Emblème maximizes equipment uptime and hygiene.

The stainless steel shaker beds feature a rotary polish and continuous welds that are ground smooth within the product zone to resist bacterial attachment and improve food safety. Integrated scallops and stiffeners, limited surface laminations, sealed isolation springs and large access doors for easy cleaning further contribute to superior sanitation. “Almost everything on these Key shakers is made of stainless steel. This limits rust in our very wet environment and makes the equipment very easy to clean,” said Godin.

Iso-Flo shakers use independent frame-mounted drives and spring arm assemblies that distribute energy equally to all parts of the shaker bed in a controlled natural-frequency operation. This operating principle minimizes the vibration that is transferred to structural support and the floor, which cuts the cost of installation, reduces energy use and offers quiet operation. Key’s contoured StrongArm spring arms, made with propriety composite material, offer an operational life that is up to twice the life of traditional straight spring arms. The stainless steel Iso-Drive adds to Iso-Flo’s extreme dependability, reducing maintenance and improving performance and uptime.

“We measure success on our cleaning line by three criteria. One is the final moisture content of the product, which needs to be less than 1 percent. Second is FM removal – we want to remove as much FM as possible at the same time we limit good product removal in order to maintain a high yield. Third, we want to achieve these objectives while processing an average of 80,000 pounds of product per hour,” said Godin. “Our cleaning line from Key does all this and more.”

“We’re in business to add value. We add value when we clean and condition the fruit. We add value when we freeze clean product, and we add value when we size and sort frozen product,” explained Godin.

“We’re installing our sizing and sorting line now. It features an Iso-Flo mechanical size grader and a VERYX digital sorter, both from Key,” concluded Godin. “It’s always good to stick with a great supplier when you’ve got one. Key helps us maintain our high quality standards and reach the product specifications that our customers want.”

Gentle conveying of delicate food

Piab’s piFLOW t conveyor is dedicated to the gentle handling of delicate ingredients and products.

It is designed to solve the problems of using vacuum technology to convey the delicacies of the food industry, such as nuts, seeds, beans, candy, as well as nutraceutical tablets and capsules.

Promising to revolutionize the automated handling of fragile goods, the conveyor features innovative and groundbreaking new technology (patent pending).

Suitable for transporting up to four million items per hour, the conveyor can be used to transport any fragile goods within a processing plant. For the food industry this enables the safe handling of, for instance, coated sweets, candy, roasted coffee beans, whole nuts, and nutraceutical tablets.

Eliminating the use of inadequate standard equipment and alternative, often back-breaking, manual procedures, the conveyor will safely transfer ingredients and products between the various processing units, such as tablet presses, coating drums, and packaging lines, avoiding all risks of damage.

At the core of the conveyor is the proprietary piGENTLE an innovative technology (patent pending) that maintains a gentle flow by regulating the feed pressure of the pump, ensuring that fragile ingredients or products are handled as delicately as possible.

The conveyor is an extension to Piab’s popular and high quality range of piFLOW conveyors for powder and bulk materials, and is specially developed to meet the stringent demands regarding operational safety and hygiene within the food, pharmaceutical, and chemical industries.

Elevating spiral conveyors [VIDEO]

Enmin’s elevating spiral conveyors can convey products and raw materials vertically to higher levels or conversely, down to near ground level.

Easy to clean and almost maintenance free, they also have a relatively small foot print and are suitable for a variety of food production environments.

The powerful acceleration of vibratory motors combined with a specially engineered spiral flight path overcome the difficulty of conveying material up an incline. The result is the positive movement of material within the spiral, taking product from the in-feed point to the elevated discharge.

The profile of the spiral ensures no spillage during the transportation process and the totally sealed welding procedure prevents raw materials from accumulating in the spiral. The open design also permits easy visual inspection and cleaning when changing ingredients and product.

The elevating spiral conveyors have no crushing points or exposed rotating parts. This creates a very safe method of conveying whilst keeping noise to a low level.

With all contact surfaces constructed from stainless steel, the elevating spiral conveyors are engineered to handle a wide range of tonnages and a large array of dry materials and products.  Elevations of up to 7m are available and the compact vibratory drive arrangement can be either base or overhead mounted.

Electronic controls are easily integrated with adjacent systems and the mechanical installation of the elevating spiral conveyors involves simply bolting it down once in position.