Feed Processing Requires Thorough Conveyor “Wet Cleaning” to Ensure Food Safety

Sanitizing wet clean flushes enclosed system to improve food safety and increase speed of product changeovers without conveyor disassembly

When feed processors blend materials to produce food for fish, cattle, swine, and poultry,

they use conveyors to move product in pellet, flake, chunk, and powder form. To meet
strict safety and compliance standards, such as the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic
Act, these processors now utilize ATP testing to monitor equipment surfaces for
microbial growth. Add to this the need to minimize cross contamination of products or
ingredients with allergens after production changeovers, and more processors are
realizing that the traditional means of cleaning conveying equipment may not be
sufficient to meet today's rigorous compliance requirements.
In the feed processing industry, when conventional conveyors need to be disassembled,
cleaned, and reassembled to reach all exposed internal surfaces, potential downtime can
extend to days. If this proves too onerous, some processors dedicate separate conveyor
lines to specific products, which increases capital equipment costs, labor, and the
production space required.
As an alternative to speed the process, feed processors are turning to tubular drag
conveyor systems, which gently move product through a sealed, enclosed tube using a
drag cable and circular discs pulled through on a loop -- ideal for delicate items. Because
tubular cable conveyors are enclosed, these systems can be quickly and effectively
flooded with water, flushed, rinsed, cleansed, and thoroughly sanitized without
disassembly - a process called "wet cleaning."
For feed processors, this "wet clean" approach significantly improves food safety
compliance and system reliability. The technique, in fact, thoroughly flushes out any
potential trace allergens from conveying equipment that could be used for multiple
Since a complete and thorough cleaning can be accomplished without disassembly of the
system, the entire process only takes 20-90 minutes. This can substantially reduce
downtime during production changeovers and eliminate the need for unnecessary
additional dedicated conveyor lines. For feed processors conveying a specific product,
regular cleaning can be set to run on an automated basis.
To resolve potential food safety and downtime issues, a growing number of feed
processors are replacing pneumatic conveyor systems with tubular cable conveyor
systems with automated wet cleaning capability, such as those from Cablevey Conveyors.
The Oskaloosa, Iowa-based conveyor manufacturer has designed, engineered, and
serviced enclosed cable and disc tube conveyors for 50 years and is in more than 66
countries. The system can convey up to 2000 cubic feet per hour of materials with
numerous layouts using multiple inlets and outlets.
The cable conveyor's wet cleaning process internally cleans the tube in several steps
starting with a water rinse followed by foaming agent, a sanitizing rinse, and a final water
rinse. Once the system is thoroughly flushed out, drying is achieved by attaching
urethane wipers to the tubular conveyor's discs, which "act like a squeegee" to remove
any residual water.
To automate the cleaning process, Cablevey can help to integrate the conveyor with
feed processors' distributed control systems (DCS). By automating the cleaning, the
system is essentially self-cleaning, so it is convenient to let it run through the cleaning
process as employees take care of other tasks.
Clear tubes can be chosen as an option for the conveyor system to provide greater
visibility into the cleanliness of the equipment and the cleaning process as it occurs.
For added food safety, processors can choose to add a unique inspection option that
enables the running of a small, lighted camera system internally through the tubes, with
video viewable on a smartphone via an app. Usually, this level of inspection is
performed on an as-needed basis to further verify or document cleanliness.
This clear tube system is transparent except where the clamps are located, so feed
processors and packagers can visually check at any time, and the internal camera system
enables seeing "every nook and cranny from the inside". This, along with regular ATP
testing, provides processors with the confidence that they are reliably meeting all
necessary QA and food safety standards.
Compared to air conveyor systems, the approach can also run significantly more product
an hour with less downtime and less potential breakage.
For the feed processing industry, the wet cleaning capability is advantageous when
dealing with a wide variety of products. As processors respond to the need for greater
safety, flexibility, and efficiency, tubular conveyors with the ability to wet clean are an
important tool to consider.
For more info, call toll free: 1 (800) 247-3344; Fax: +1 (641) 673-7419; email:
info@cablevey.com; or visit https://cablevey.com.

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