The food and beverage industry is a key component in the global economy, with processing plants, packaging facilities, and distribution centers located around the world providing sustenance to billions. These critical operations need to handle perishable and sometimes fragile items safely and with extreme care and attention. Material handling systems are essential in getting these products to the store shelf or sometimes directly to the customer. No matter the process, many types of conveyors are not only used but often required to meet the demand of companies seeking to satisfy the appetite of food and beverage consumers.
The majority of products in the food and beverage industry are in mass quantities and need to be transported, prepared, packaged, stored, sorted, and distributed accurately and safely. These goods range from fragile fruits, which may reach peak output over a 30-day period of the year, to heavy packages of meat products that must be stored, sorted, and distributed through cold storage facilities.
Beverage products provide unique opportunities and challenges – ranging from mass bottling of water, to fragile bottles of wines and spirits. Choosing the right conveyors and material handling products can significantly affect customer satisfaction, maintenance costs, wastes from product damage within your operation, and ultimately the profitability of your company.
Conveyor selection for this industry will vary based upon the desired application. Every company has different processing stages for numerous products. Likewise, material handling solutions should also be chosen to fit a particular function in that process.
If the application demands frequent cleaning due to direct contact with produce, the conveyor may require stainless steel or composite type construction. If conveying packaged products, mild painted steel construction is sufficient and is esthetically pleasing to visitors and workers.
Certain environments found within the food and beverage industry may require special attention. Temperatures can be low or high and specific components used in conveyors need to be thought about, particularly the bearings and grease type.
The product or packaging of products is particularly important in determining the conveyor type needed. If products are bagged, irregular, or light weight, a belted type conveyor should be used. For applications requiring zero-pressure accumulation of products, particularly beverage products, close roller centered live roller conveyors or 24-volt conveyors with close roller centers may be well suited. Close roller centers support bottled wine and spirits to greatly reduce breakage, which can be costly both in waste and cleanup expenses. In the event of spillage, low-voltage conveyors are more open in design and do not require flat belts, which may distribute spillage.
Roller accumulation conveyors, particularly low-voltage conveyors with decentralized zone drives, can significantly reduce noise and maintenance costs. Combine this with the use of accumulation logic that is equipped with sleep mode intelligence, and energy consumption can be reduced and conveyor life lengthened.
Sortation Equipment Selection
When sorting products in this industry, it is critical to remember to select equipment based on the amount of care required in handling the package or product. The sorter selection cannot negatively impact the products’ condition.
Sorters used in this industry can be narrow belt sorters with angled or perpendicular diverts or pivot wheel diverts used in belt conveyors. Sliding shoe sorters are good in the food and beverage industry as well. These sorters may be fitted with tubes in lieu of aluminum slates to aid in cleaning if spillage is a factor.
The food and beverage industry will always be a thriving business. Hytrol creates conveyors and processes that are designed to work hand-in-hand to handle the products that are a part of the food and beverage industry. We are dedicated to helping you find the right conveyor and products that work for your needs. Get started by talking with a Hytrol Integration Partner near you.