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 hangeovers, and more processors are realizing that the traditional means of cleaning conveying equipment may not be sufficient to meet today's rigorous compliance requirements.
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 products.
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 feedprocessors 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.
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