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March 18, 2014
Machines and technology are at the heart of mass production, the benefits of which are the ability to produce a product cost effectively and in sufficient quantity to meet demand on a foreseeable, quantifiable basis. One industry that has not only been revolutionised by this process, but as a result influenced the way society behaves, is food manufacturing and processing. At CCL we have vast experience of providing food conveyors, like these recently created machines for Veetee Foods Ltd.
Established in 1987, Veetee would become one of the largest rice mills in the UK, with a global milling capacity of 225,000 tonnes per annum. By 2001, Veetee had developed into one of the largest rice suppliers to the UK retail market, and within two years the Veetee Food Service division was started, resulting in an array of successful rice products and brands.
CCL were required to design, fabricate and install one swan neck conveyor and two 90 degree transfer conveyors, all of which needed to seamlessly integrate with an existing food conveyors production line. Our machines would facilitate the smooth transfer of rice between two independent processing areas, each separated by an internal partition wall.
As is always the case when creating food conveyors, strict hygiene regulations need to be adhered to, with material choice a significant consideration. It is often the case, as with the swan neck conveyor for Veetee, that plastic is the material of choice. Practical, lightweight and easy to clean, plastic conveyors are utilised throughout industries that operate in necessarily clean, sterile environments, such as food manufacturing and processing.
Made out of high-density PE500 polyethylene, the plastic-framed conveyor transfers rice from a ground level hopper up to the first of two 90 degree transfer conveyors. Ordinarily conveyor belts that need to raise their payload up a steep, vertical angle employ fixed cross flights (the surfaces that stand out at right angles to the main belt, creating a ledge for materials to sit on) but in this instance an alternative solution was required. The food manufacturing and processing industry requires their food materials to be scraped of the conveyor belt, so as not to waste valuable resources. This scraping action is automated and set in a fixed position, meaning that conveyor belts utilising protruding cross flights were a non-started.
The solution was to utilise a plastic modular conveyor belt with hinged cross flights that would fold flat, allowing the scraper to successfully remove any excess food material as the flights passed over the head drum at the off feed end. This belt was acquired from a specialist firm that is the sole manufacturer of this product, so ideal for food conveyors.
The other two food conveyors that CCL provided were of the standard 90 degree flat belt conveyor-type, manufactured from 304 stainless steel. Whereas the design and fabrication of these two 90 degree conveyors was relatively straight forward, the installation proved to be more difficult. These conveyors needed to be positioned above the existing two conveyor lines, by way of a mezzanine floor. Supporting the conveyors in the necessary position was tricky, due to the different heights of the floor surfaces that two different levels creates, but with a little common sense and elegant engineering, a dual leg length H frame support ensured this issue was resolved successfully.