A hygienic conveyor is used in mainly in food industry plants and sites. It is necessary for moving foods through the various processes that are related to preparing and packaging foods. Food production standards in the United States place strict controls upon hygiene. Cleanliness in prepared foods is paramount. A few other applications require scrupulous attention to cleanliness, including pharmaceuticals and chemical processes.
Food industry sites have many elements where hygienic control is necessary. In order for food products to be safely conveyed from one location to another, the conveyor belt must be formed of materials that are not only clean, but must remain clean through heavy use and wear. It’s important for the lengths of belting to be as long as possible, since every seam is an area where the buildup of bacteria and dirt can occur.
Because conveyor belts must be dependable so that downtime is avoided, the materials used in belt construction must by strong and durable. Plastics such as silicone, polypropylene, polyethylene, polyurethane, polyvinylchloride or blends are often used for hygienic surfaces on the belts. The belts must be durable without adding odors or particles to the food.
Another important quality of the conveyor material is that is releases food from the surface. Any hint of roughness and the microscopic particles will remain on the surface. These create odor and stains that can reduce the quality of the finished food product. In addition, micro organisms on the belt hasten its deterioration. Sometimes a belt is made of one material as a center core, while the surface is a second, even more hygienic material. The reverse side of the belt may be coated and sealed as well.
Sticky foods on a conveyor line used to mean additional cleaning, with the risk of cleaning chemicals contaminating the food. Alternatively, the use of some cleaning agents tends to wear the surface of the belt, thus worsening the problem. Instead, improved formulations and blends of the belting material results in products that tend to release the food more easily.
It is important for belts to be made of anti-static materials. When static from moving belts exists, it tends to attract dust particles from the air, as well as micro organisms. Anti-static qualities help to repel foreign materials from the air. Food tends to release more easily when there is less static.
The challenge of cleaning a belt is another aspect of maintaining hygiene within the food production facility. Even a surface that repels dirt and stain won’t last long if chemicals or abrasives continually wear away at the finish. This is where the importance of durability is recognized. In recent years, there has been increased research and development of product that clean without removing a surface layer of the materials.
Other developments include making the belts blue. There aren’t too many blue foods, so when blue appears during a quality control check of the food, it is an indication that the belts are wearing and releasing particles. Additionally, food residue shows up better on a belt that is blue, so efforts to clean are more productive.
Hygienic conveyor belts are an important part of processing in the food industry. They help to move the food from one place to another. Maintaining high standards of cleanliness promotes the quality of the food overall.
Belt Power is a leading provider of Hygienic Conveyor Belting