TÄBY – Due to their delicate nature, candy, sweets, whole nuts, beans and seeds, and nutraceutical tablets and capsules are tricky to handle in industrial settings.
As a leader in the field, Piab has put together an ABC guide with some of the most important issues to bear in mind.
Adaptable conveying systems will adapt to suit different products within a range. Make sure you choose a conveyor that is able to handle goods of varying size, shape and weight. Any technology used to move the material through a conveying system should be independent of such characteristics. Also remember that it should be possible to adapt or configure the entire conveying system, including its motors, the diameter of pipelines, container volumes and so on, to suit the requirements of individual items, production steps, and producers.
Automatic handling systems offer an alternative to laborious manual procedures. Exposing your staff to regular lifting and emptying of often heavy containers is a recipe for working conditions that lead to injuries and an unhappy workforce. Additionally, automatic conveyors can indeed be designed to handle the delicate sweets, nuts, tablets and capsules just as carefully as any human hand.
Bespoke and gentle conveyors are tailor-made specifically for handling delicate goods. Wherever possible, try to use such dedicated equipment and technology instead of modified standard equipment. Dedicated conveyors will offer an improved performance and cost-effective transfer between processing units such as tablet presses, coating drums, and packaging lines.
Breakages must be avoided and scrap levels kept at a minimum. Chipped or damaged candy and broken nutraceutical capsules or tablets have to be discarded, and such waste will increase the costs faced by producers within the food industry. Check that your conveyor is made from materials that do not harm delicate products and ingredients. Steel tubing should be replaced by a flexible hose, and all sharp edges have to be avoided or have a protective lining.
Building a conveying system in a restricted and confined area can be challenging. However, contrary to common belief, vacuum conveyors do not require a lot of floor space. It is also worth considering whether a system can be built into spaces where height is limited. Systems offering a low building height and a small footprint are easily accommodated in most processing plants.
Cleanliness is vital in food processing plants. The whole conveying system must therefore be easily accessible for cleaning. It is worth investing in a system made up of a limited number of parts, as this will generally be easier to keep spotless than any similar system comprising a myriad of components.
Compliance with industrial and environmental standards and regulations is an important consideration. Insist on technology that has been certified or approved by the relevant standardisation bodies or organisations, such as the American Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and/or according to regulations such as the European Union’s ATEX directive.
Disassembling the conveying system needs to be uncomplicated to allow for maintenance and ease of cleaning. Again, systems containing fewer parts are preferable to those with lots of individual components, and modular systems are generally much easier to deal with. Another clear advantage to look out for is whether the conveyor can be disassembled and reassembled without tools.
Downtime is a dreaded D within any business. Keeping it at a minimum is essential, which is why it is so important to choose a high quality system from a reputable and experienced supplier. Such suppliers will give you the chance to test a particular configuration or system in a test lab before your purchase, assist you through the installation process, and offer you any support you might need post-purchase.
Dust can be a real headache for processors of food, sweets and nutraceuticals. A common feature of, for instance, uncoated nutraceutical tablets, the dust has to be separated from the tablets before packaging. Dedicated and gentle conveyors that can be used for such preseparation purposes offer significant dust elimination.
Energy-efficiency is a feature of the most advanced automated pneumatic conveying systems. State-of-the-art and innovative vacuum solutions will help reduce your energy costs and improve productivity in the plant. It is also worth remembering that systems which use three-stage ejectors to generate vacuum are more energy-efficient, as they can provide three times more vacuum flow than conventional systems with single- or two-stage ejectors.
Filtration is an essential and integral part of any conveyor. Filters protect machinery such as vacuum pumps and help to protect staff from inhaling harmful dust. For successful filtration and access to highly efficient and sterile filters, capable of removing more than 99.9 percent of all dust particles, make sure you turn to a supplier who offers a full range of filters for a wide variety of applications.
Flow controlling technology will maintain a low speed ensuring that ingredients and products are not chipped or damaged in the conveyor. A controlled low speed is vital in automated handling of fragile goods. One recently introduced, innovative technology provides this by regulating the feed pressure of the pump to correspond with the vacuum level in the system. As sweets, nuts or tablets fill up the pipeline, the vacuum level will increase, which then triggers an increase in feed pressure.
Gentle handling is the key to keeping fragile goods safe and intact throughout an automated conveying system. Perhaps this is stating the obvious, as instinctively we all handle delicate things with great care and a gentle touch. Systems fitted with sophisticated technology that controls the conveying speed by regulating the feed pressure will be capable of the same safe and gentle handling, avoiding any damage to delicate sweets, nuts and nutraceuticals.
Help and assistance with these issues or any other problem not included in this “ABC of gentle conveying” can be sought from your local Piab supplier.