Editor’s pickIt’s Your Company Line, We Help Keep It Moving
To keep processing lines moving at peak productivity, conveyor lines need to be clean, sanitised and free of product carryback.
In today’s daily production, keeping processing lines moving at peak productivity can be a challenging task for food manufacturers to keep up with the consumers health conscious mind set, nutrition needs and taste.
With a growing demand for choice comes the need for larger production volumes and a wider range of food ingredients that are used and mixed to meet consumer demands. Thus, keeping conveyor lines clean, sanitised and free of product carryback becomes the core challenge.
What Causes Product Scraps/Carryback?
Carryback occurs when material transported along conveyor belts adheres to the underside of the belt instead of being cleaned off or released, and can have a huge impact on operational efficiency. Carryback are product remnants that remain on the belt past the head pulley. Ineffective cleaning, or scraping, can allow carryback.
Not only do leftover food ingredients create an unsanitary condition on the belt, but they can also build up on the conveyor structure. When not managed appropriately, the risks of carryback can be measured in immediate terms such as loss of product, reduced overall life of the belt, excessive downtime, increased clean-up costs and the creation of slipping hazards.
Over the long term, carryback can lead to even more costly issues, such as product contamination, or sizable fines resulting from regulatory noncompliance. All of these ultimately translate into lost revenue, which can impact your ability to effectively compete in a tight market.
Eliminating Carryback And Cross-Contamination
In the bakery and confectionery segment alone, a survey of the supermarket shelf shows that ingredients like chia, flax, and probiotics are often added to crackers, chocolates, and gummies to make them healthy for consumption. This is currently an exciting movement for both Asian consumers and bakers because when more nutritional ingredients are added to the mix, new and unique flavours are created.
While a wider range of ingredients can help differentiate a product, it is not all good news to bakers. With these ingredients come higher risks of cross-contamination, wrong ingredients being mixed, and more intricacies involved in bakery and confectionery processing. These challenges can be an added burden in terms of needing extra resources to ensure all equipment are up-to-standard for product changeovers.
With more product changeovers as well as the use of a greater variety of ingredients for baking, the risks of cross-contamination between different food substances increase. Costly recalls of baked goods due to undeclared allergens or the presence of foreign ingredients are more likely to be introduced along poorly maintained processing lines. This issue is, of course, not limited to Asia Pacific but across all markets.
This makes globally recognised food safety certifications like the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved food grade material a huge influence over consumer’s purchasing decision. According to the Food Safety Regulatory, the compliance for all food manufacturing equipment is becoming increasingly critical, particularly with the passage and recent timeline clarifications of the Food Safety Modernisation Act (FSMA).
The Act is intended to alter the nation’s food safety paradigm from reactive to preventive, thus strengthening the food safety system to better protect public health. Noncompliance with the FSMA may result in food manufacturers being slapped with significant fines, impacting overall profitability.
In fact, a new Bloomberg BNA analysis found that undeclared ingredients are now the number-one cause of food recalls ordered by United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The usual culprits of undeclared allergens in baked goods are eggs, nuts, and milk. Recent reports to have hit the market involved the recall of icing sugar due to traces of almond found in the product not mentioned on the ingredients list, and another where coconut milk ice cream was found to contain undeclared dairy allergen.
Among the many causes of cross-contamination, one of Asia’s challenges in eliminating undeclared allergens from the food supply chain stems from varying interpretations and implementation of food standards among different countries within the region. Therefore, the initiative to harmonise food standards by the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) is an example of how some Asian countries have converged their regulations to comply with internationally recognised standards so as to better safeguard consumers’ health on a global scale.
By extension, bakers can make sure that global food safety certifications such as USDA and Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) are met within their facilities to help demonstrate their commitment to the wellbeing of consumers, and secure consumer preference while protecting the credibility of their brands. Safety assurances for conveyor belts and maintenance of equipment are no exception.
Solutions To Eliminate Carryback/ Product Scraps Effectively
Majority of the existing belt cleaning devices are homemade non-engineered solutions featuring a simple blade design, Ineffective tension, and Surface finishes, angles, and crevices that allow bacteria to grow.
Homemade non-engineered belt cleaner at dough processing plant
By reducing or eliminating product carryback, cost savings can accumulate and offset the cost of purchasing an engineered cleaner over a homemade non-engineered cleaner.
While the initial cost of a homemade non-engineered cleaner, its overall cost is often very high as they generally exhibit:
- Poor operating performance
- Belt wear
- Poor sanitation
- Ongoing maintenance
The efficacy of a primary cleaner lies in its tension. Without the optimal blade-to-belt contact, leftover product scraps easily adhere to the underside of the belt and are carried throughout the processing line.
It can be a challenging task to keep conveyor lines clean and free from product scraps, but with proper maintenance and reliable conveyor belt solutions, food manufacturers can:
- Reduce excessive downtime required to remove sticky product scraps
- Avoid costly repairs caused by inadequate maintenance
- Preserve belt life and enjoy optimum performance
- Comply with strict food safety regulations to build brand loyalty
Engineered belt cleaner, optimal belt-to-blade contact
Belt cleaner tensioning