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Chiller/freezer spiral conveyor

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article image Chiller/freezer conveyor -- custom built.

THE installation of a custom built spiral conveyor system by Industrial Conveying for Pasta Master has streamlined the handling of prepacked and loose pasta products in sub-zero temperatures.

Pasta Master produces chilled fresh pasta for distribution to supermarket chains throughout Australia.

A new conveying system was required to be installed in the chilling areas to cool the product core without freezing the outer pasta layers.

The company needed a materials handling solution to suit an existing facility where access restraints demanded that the solution be demountable.

It also preferred to award the project to an all-Australian company with wide experience in clean manufacturing and design for the food industry.

The chiller/freezer spiral conveyor system has increased the efficiency of Pasta Master's product handling operation by eliminating much time consuming and manual labour.

Prior to its installation, trays of product would be loaded manually on to trolleys, wheeled into chillers for chilling then manually transferred to unloading areas. Bottlenecks were frequent.

Benefits of the new system include the achievement of continuous product flow in controlled temperatures and conditions and the reduction of manual handling.

The complexities of product storage prior to palletising are avoided resulting in significant cost savings. Pasta Master expects full payback within 2.5 years.

The spiral conveyors are designed and fabricated in accordance with all applicable codes, hygiene standards and occupational health and safety requirements and are used by Pasta Master as a continuous cooler/freezer operation.

The conveyors run through a two stage blast chilling process to maximise and circulate air around the product and to provide additional chiller dwell time. Cooling of the product core is achieved without the freezing of the pasta outer layers.

As Pasta Master manufacturers a wide range of pasta products, each product requiring a different chill time, the control system is programmed to suit the various products.

The conveyor speed is adjusted automatically via variable speed motors and specialised motor balancing systems. Conveyor speed range is 2m/min to 20m/min.

Product is conveyed on the 300 metre long belt which travels in an upward spiral of 18 turns at 150mm pitch around the first of two 1960mm diameter drums situated in a chill room operating at -18°C.

The product then travels in a downward spiral around the second drum installed in an adjoining chill room - operating temperature -35°C.

ICA believes that the continuous cooler/freezer spiral conveyor is one of the first in Australia to be specifically designed to incorporate a modular plastic belt rather than the traditional high maintenance stainless steel spiral belt type.

A 350mm white acetal side flexing modular belt was selected for the new system.

With an operating temperature range of -46°C to +93°C, the belt is durable, low maintenance and operates efficiently in harsh conditions.

Thermal expansion and contraction of the belt is handled by a gravity take-up system, the travel limits of which are monitored by sensors. An alarm will activate to halt the drive if limits are exceeded.

A complete clean-in-place (CIP) system incorporating both water and air blower manifolds are provided to hygienically clean and dry the belt when necessary.

These are housed within an enclosure to prevent over spray and a waste water collection tank with drain socket is mounted underneath.

PLC and all necessary controls for the drive system (three motors) are housed in a remote mounted waterproof stainless steel motor control cabinet.

The conveyors are a suitable materials handling solution for a wide range of industries including food and beverage, confectionary, parcel and carton handling and the printing industry.

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