Why Choosing an Engineered Cleaner Is a Good Business Decision

In food processing, having your conveyor belt running smoothly and consistently is a major productivity boost for your operation. Keeping material moving quickly and keeping product on the belt is the most important part of the system. If you have material caked on your belt, rollers, and other components on your system, and even product falling off your belts, then you have a problem with material carryback.

That carryback is affecting every part of your operation, resulting in decreased product output, lost productivity because of maintenance and repairs, and a dwindling bottom line. Add in the cost of having your maintenance team clear the excess scrap, along with trying to clean and sanitize your system, and your pocketbook is shrinking.

In the past, it seemed to be inevitable – a cost of doing business. But when you’re trying to trim your budget, every ounce of wasted product and every unscheduled shut down for repair or replacement is an area of opportunity. It’s time to do something about it. But what can you do to keep your materials on the belt throughout the production process? Install an efficient belt cleaner.

Homemade Cleaners

Since your maintenance team knows everything about your conveyor, it’s natural to think that they can develop a cleaner that will conform perfectly to your system. Scrap conveyor belting, spare pieces of plastic, and even stainless steel are used to create devices that “scrape” the belt. While this is an inexpensive design that can remove some carryback, it could damage your belt, is ineffective at cleaning, and is far from sanitary.

Homemade belt cleaners may seem effective, but they could actually be damaging your belt and harboring harmful bacteria in their crevices.

Proper tensioning is critical for efficient and effective cleaning. Many homemade scrapers apply tension in a rigid fashion, causing too much pressure and damage to the belt or splice, while others do not apply enough pressure, allowing carryback. Worse still, some systems have variations in the belt or pulley that render a rigid tensioning system ineffective.

Without an appropriate tensioning system, the cleaners are not providing constant blade-to-belt contact and product is getting past the homemade cleaner, causing it to stick to the belt and conveyor components.

Also, many homemade cleaners are not properly designed and have crevices that can actually harbor bacteria and other potential contaminants. In addition, the complexity of their construction can make cleaning and sanitizing a difficult task.

Engineered Belt Cleaners

Another option is to buy a cleaner specifically engineered to work with light-duty belting in food. Most engineered cleaners have been field tested and proven to be gentle to your belting, but tough enough to remove even the stickiest of materials.

Engineered cleaners have been around the industry for a number of years. They have evolved dramatically in the last decade, with new designs that adapt to any type of conveyor and belt, making them a clear winner in the fight against carryback. Here’s a list of advantages obtained by installing an engineered cleaner:

  • More effective than homemade or OEM belt scrapers at removing carryback
  • Designed to easily be removed and re-installed for conveyor sanitation events
  • Allows for consistent contact of blade to belt for superior performance
  • Spring tensioning system provides dampening characteristics that can be tuned to the application
  • Replacement blades and other components are readily available

The effectiveness of engineered belt cleaners is evident from the moment they are placed on the system.  They contain tensioning mechanisms for optimal interaction between the cleaning blade and the belt instead of relying on a fixed blade, as is often the case with homemade cleaners.

In fact, some operations have noted as much as a 60% reduction in scrap off the line when using an engineered cleaner rather than a homemade cleaner. For some, even more. 

One of the most popular engineered cleaning options is the FGP Food Grade Precleaner from Flexco. The FGP meets the highest standards for food processing. The cleaner is easy to install, easy to maintain, and disassembles in a snap for regular cleaning and sanitization. Its stainless steel components and food grade materials limit crevices and opportunities for bacteria growth. 

Conveyor belt running smoothly is vital in food processing

The FGP Food Grade Precleaner from Flexco was designed to be easy to install and service, with optimal blade-to-belt interaction and food grade materials.

FGP Food Grade Precleaner Cuts Waste More Than 70% at Hot Dog Plant

A meat packing operation was experiencing large amounts of waste on the return side of its conveyor since product was sticking to the plastic modular belt and falling to the floor. The cost of the waste was estimated at 11,500 INR per shift. With two shifts per day, the estimated cost of carryback was 23,000 INR.

The ground meat was being transferred on a ¾” (20 mm) pitch modular plastic belt positioned at an incline of approximately 30 degrees. A fixed scraper was not an option because of the uneven surface of the belting links as they flexed around the drive sprockets. The maintenance team was, however, able to install a Flexco FGP Food Grade Precleaner at the discharge end of the conveyor, right at the dump zone. The blade tensioning feature of the FGP allowed them to run the cleaner on the plastic modular belt with the blade contouring to the uneven surface.

The installation of the FGP Food Grade Precleaner reduced the waste in this line by 70-80 percent, translating to a reduction of 16,000-18,000 INR of waste per day. With a line that runs five days a week, those savings will add up to a reduction of lost product of approximately 4,167,618 INR to 4,167,618 INR per year. In addition, the facility does not have to clean up the carryback that was previously falling onto the floor.

Engineered cleaners that are specific to the food or pharmaceutical industry are also made from food grade materials and are designed to ensure that cleaning and sanitizing is quick and easy. For extra peace of mind, food operations should seek out engineered cleaners that meet strict sanitary guidelines for use in their industries.

If you are struggling with carryback in your facility, the evidence is clear that an engineered belt cleaner is your best defense. You’ll decrease your product waste and the time spent maintaining and cleaning up your system, and most importantly, you’ll increase your belt life, your productivity, and your profits. Invest in the right technology, and you’ll have a great solution to add to your playbook.

For more information on The Flexco FGP Food Grade Precleaner or any other Flexco solutions, log on to https://flexco.in/EN/Product-Systems/Belt-Cleaning-Systems/FGP-Food-Grade-Precleaner.htm