Conveyor Systems in Processing: Making Use of Advanced Engineering Design
The potato industry is a high paced, 24/7 operation that requires robust conveying equipment which can stand up to the weight and rigor of the potato processing industry.
State-of-the-art conveyors use advanced engineering design systems and modern premium efficient drives and controls to move large volumes of product throughout the processing plant which helps conserve energy. The advanced vibratory and belt conveyor designs are much more sanitary which saves labor time and energy resources when it is time to clean and sanitize the processing equipment.
Different models and types
According to Koko Neher, sales manager of PFI Global, the main categories of belt conveying are flat, troughed, and elevator style which can transport potatoes from storage into the first stages of processing. Flat belt and trough style can transport whole potatoes into peeling and slicing processes. Belt and vibratory conveying can transport from slicing into sorting. Vibratory solutions can also provide a solution for basic sorting related to size and dewatering needs. Flighted belt conveyors are commonly used to elevate product to the distribution deck prior to packaging. Vibratory and horizontal motion solutions are used to deliver product into weighing, seasoning and packaging. Most commonly, belt conveyors are supplied with monolithic thermoplastic belting and stainless-steel framework. This style of belting has become a new standard when designing a hygienic sanitary belt conveyor. For vibratory and horizontal motion solutions all product contact surfaces and framework are also stainless-steel.
“PFI offers belt conveyors in a variety of styles for potato processors. Those include: trough, incline, reversing, retracting, flat, deceleration, lifting, and flighted conveyors. Vibratory offering includes: laning, dewatering, sizing, sorter preparation, screening, grading, and distribution solutions. Our horizontal motion conveyor is a great solution for layouts requiring reversing solutions. It is also preferred to reduce seasoning or batter loss over a vibratory option in a distribution to packaging area,” explains Neher. “When developing a layout in a potato plant we add features to streamline processing. Vibratory conveyors can serve as ways to orientate, sort, grade, screen, and dewater. Belt conveyors are utilized for feeding multiple downstream processes and reject systems for upstream grading activities,” adds Neher.
Similarly, Jim Ruff, vice president, Process Systems & Integrated Solutions at Key Technology says that in potato processing plants, belt conveyors with intentionally low sanitary design standards are often found at raw receiving where heavy-duty construction enables them to convey product that is mixed with dirt and rocks in environments that are often dusty and sometimes muddy. Here, conveyor belts are made of either robust rubber, PVC or urethane and support frames are often mild steel. On the rest of the processing line, belt conveyors that feature stainless steel frames and either PVC, urethane or thermoplastic belts can be used to convey cleaned, washed and cut product as well as frozen product. For a more sanitary design and superior reliability, vibratory conveyors, which typically feature either 304 or 316 stainless steel beds and frames, are preferred.
“Iso-Flo® is our versatile family of natural frequency vibratory conveyors that maximize sanitation and reliability. We can tune the speed and stroke of Iso-Flo to match the needs of each application so performance is optimized. And it can be fitted with screens, drop-out gates, diverters with side discharges and other features to achieve fines removal, scalping, dewatering, de-oiling, product distribution, aligning, spreading, feeding, collecting, transferring and more,” Ruff explains. “Iso-Glide™ is a modified Iso-Flo that achieves a motion that resembles horizontal motion to offer gentle handling and quiet operation as well as superior sanitation and reliability. Our Impulse® vibratory conveyors feature frame-mounted electromagnetic drives. Ideal for scale feeding, ingredient feeding, product mixing and more, Impulse starts and stops quickly to achieve precise metering and low maintenance. Impulse utilizes sanitary design features similar to Iso-Flo,” Ruff also says. The company’s sanitary belt conveyors feature a positive drive thermoplastic belt and a tool-less collapsible take-up system, which releases tension from the belt, along with an option for fastener-free carry-ways, which allow the sanitation crew to simply lift the belt up to wash under it. An optional drive system eliminates belt drives. Furthermore, with the acquisition of Herbert Solutions earlier this year, Key has added more whole potato conveying technology to their family of equipment and enhanced our portfolio of potato processing solutions.
You can read the rest of this article in your complimentary e-copy of the July-August Issue of Potato Processing International magazine, which you can access by clicking here.