As global disposable income rises, so does consumer demand for the delicious taste of baked goods – be they sweet or savory, gluten or gluten-free, organic or processed. And while what each bakery produces, where they get their raw materials from, and even what part of the world they are located in differ, we all face the same general production challenges. More specifically, if you have a belt conveyor system in your facility, it’s time to stop thinking about those challenges as issues or problems. Instead, let’s face them head-on and call them “opportunities for improvement” and find ways to turn those challenges into operational advancements.
A quick review of three of the top baking industry challenges, along with suggested solutions, could have you singing a whole different tune when it comes to your productivity – and it can also set you apart from the competition.
Challenge #1: How can I ensure the belts in my facility are sanitary?
Aside from your everyday sanitary protocols, you may wonder if there is a chance to improve the sanitation of your conveyor belt. The answer is, yes. Ensuring that you have a perfectly sealed top cover when hot-splicing thermoplastic belting helps prevent bacteria from growing in the splice area of your belt. In fact, even a well-made finger splice can help with sanitation – the longer it lasts, the less maintenance and clean up that needs to be done. Air-cooled presses like the Novitool® Aero® Splice Press and Novitool® Amigo™ Splice Press not only produce quality, consistent splices, but the whole process is contained in the press, with no need for external controls or water tanks, which can harbor bacteria.
Another way to help your sanitation efforts is to eliminate carryback. Carryback occurs when conveyed materials stick to the belt and then either fall to the floor or cling to conveyor components, causing safety issues, or remain on the belt until it can be cleaned, causing sanitation challenges. Installing an engineered belt cleaner like the FGP Food Grade Precleaner reduces the amount of carryback, making it more effective for sanitation crews to clean the conveyor system during frequent allergen cleanses or full conveyor sanitation events. All industrial bakers need to consider carryback a “dirty” word.
Speaking of conveyor sanitation events, on mechanically-fastened belts, we recommend fasteners with easy-to-remove hinge pins like the Alligator® Spiral Lace Fastening System for easy pin removal and cleaning of the top and bottom of the conveyor belt. You can simply remove the pin, clean, sanitize, and rinse the belts, and reinsert the pin to join the belt.
Challenge #2: How can I limit the chance of cross-contamination in my facility?
|Owning your own splice press means your maintenance crew can clean and sanitize the equipment utilizing your protocols.
Cross-contamination is a very real issue for industrial baking facilities. The ability to ensure that certain products are allergen-free is not only good for the bottom line, but can also be a matter of life or death for your customers. Cross-contamination is such a common challenge that Baking and Snack just ran an article on it in its July 2019 issue. And we recently wrote a whole blog about it that focuses on the importance of owning your own splicing equipment so you can control the cleaning and storage of the press. The Aero Press is yet another good choice for this because of its quick cycle times, forced-air cooling (no water required) and ease of use. Plus, it is so well known in the industry that even an outside crew can come in and use it.
Utilizing an engineered belt cleaner like the FGP Food Grade Precleaner is another way to reduce the potential for cross-contamination. Its ability to eliminate carryback ensures that you won’t have materials sticking to the belt and the conveyor components. It also disassembles quickly for easy cleaning and sanitation during downtime, with no opportunities for bacteria or cross-contaminants to hide during a good rinse.
Challenge #3: How do I control carryback and avoid unscheduled downtime?
We’ve already talked a lot about carryback when it comes to sanitary conditions and keeping your products free from cross contamination, but it’s important to note that carryback concerns don’t just affect product quality. Carryback can affect belt and conveyor component life, downtime and maintenance, and even worker safety.
It’s true. Carryback will reduce the life of the conveyor belt splice when materials build up on the other conveyor components and rub against the belt and the splice. If your product is sticky enough, those same conveyor components can also be damaged. The build-up can also cause belt mistracking, which leads to incorrectly-applied decorations on product as well as product spillage and waste. That spillage and waste increases the amount of time it takes your maintenance team to clean during preventative maintenance, and can even cause unexpected shutdowns. If the carryback that drops on the floor is not cleaned, it presents a slip/fall hazard to your workers.
|Engineered belt cleaners help ensure that materials don’t stick to the belt or fall on the floor.
Installing the right engineered belt cleaner can truly make a difference for your belt conveyor system. It can ease your mind when it comes to sanitation and cross-contamination, and it can also ease your pocketbook when it comes to maintenance costs and the price of downtime, as illustrated in this application profile where the FGP Food Grade Precleaner was utilized to significantly reduce carryback at an industrial bakery.
Visit us at IBIE 2019
If you’re planning to attend IBIE 2019, you can chat with our experts and find out what solutions are right for your belt conveyor challenges. Better yet, bring us your belt conveyor issues and we’ll help you solve them! At Booth 7253, we’ll be demonstrating all these products so you can see them for yourself. Can’t wait until September? Schedule a product demo today with a local Flexco expert!
Stewart has been with Flexco for 30 years, working in various roles from customer service, to manufacturing, to training and new product development. As Industry Manager, Todd Stewart thoroughly researches target industries, creating programs to support each industry and identifying customer issues, as well as potential product solutions. Stewart currently leads the development of the Industrial Baking Industry Program and is responsible for ensuring that Flexco is positioned to serve the needs of our global customers. Stewart earned a bachelor’s degree in Marketing with a B2B specialty from Davenport University.