How to Maximize Conveying Efficiency
As a production manager, you are likely being challenged to reduce energy costs, water usage and downtime while maximizing conveying efficiency. Fortunately, new conveyor technologies have emerged that are designed to reduce water usage, increase energy efficiency and minimize downtime in high-speed food and beverage production environments.
Upgrade to Premium Materials for Chains and Belts
The use of premium materials such as engineered resins in chain and belt components provides a sustainable advantage over the industry standard LF material. Their reduced coefficient of friction properties enable end users to reduce or eliminate their chain/belt lubrication thus providing a true “dry running” conveyor. The better sliding properties of these plastic chains and modular belts also result in additional benefits, including:
- Longer life
- Lower friction
- Reduced power consumption
- Ability to run at higher speeds
- Good chemical resistance
- High abrasion resistance
- Approved for direct food contact
- Less dust than with acetal chains
- Noise reduction
Build a Run Dry Solution
Manufacturing plants today have three options for keeping conveyor systems running smoothly: water and soap lubrication, dry lubrication, and running dry (no lubrication).
Water and soap lubrication of steel chains became the most common approach as production speeds increased. Water and soap reduce friction, flush away product spillage, dissipate heat and reduce chain wear. However, water reclamation costs, worker safety, water availability issues and corrosion have caused many manufacturers to seek alternatives to this approach.
One alternative is dry lubrication, which uses mineral oil with lubricating additives instead of soap and water. This can save a significant amount of water but is more delicate than soap and water lubrication. Dry lubrication also requires additional equipment for supplying lubricant to the conveyor. If not used precisely, dry lubrication can result in wear such as paste build-up, causing premature wear, noise pulsation and hygiene issues.
The third choice is to run dry using the premium materials and smart design chains, belts and components discussed above. Having the ability to run a conveyor line without lubrication provides benefits in terms of performance, safety and sustainability.
Key Benefits of Run Dry include
- Saving water / lubricant consumption
- Improved plant safety and hygiene by eliminating wet floors and equipment
- Less bacteria growth
- Reduced maintenance concerns with cleanliness and better access where drip trays have been removed
- Reduced energy consumption because of the low-friction components
- Reduced costs for water, lubricating chemicals and wastewater discharge
- Easier on conveyor bearings and frames
In addition, chains made from these newer, premium materials can last up to five times longer than low-friction acetal. This can mean that the new chain pays for itself in as little as a year.
Identify Pain Areas with a Gap WalkSM Consultation
Before you take the leap into purchasing new components, it might be helpful to consider a Gap WalkSM Consultation. Conducting a Gap Walk to review current conveyor components can help to assess whether an upgrade is warranted to maximize efficiencies in your process. In a Gap Walk, both latent, or unknown, and acknowledged pain areas are identified. Once these pains are identified, plans of action can be put in place to allow for conveying components to function more efficiently and optimize the overall equipment efficiency (OEE) of a plant. A Gap Walk is a great way to gain insights from a group of industry experts about key problems with the current state of your conveying line and find a solution for real cost savings for your company.