Habasit produces a market-leading range of belting technology products, solutions and engineering services so that whatever the application, we have the optimum solution for customer specific needs.
When a leading producer of potato products contacted us to discuss an issue with a stainless steel mesh belt in a spiral freezer application, Habasit were ideally placed to provide a solution which not only solved the customer’s production throughput issues, but also provided the customer with the additional commercial advantage of reducing their energy costs. Conveyor and Spirals Project Manager Steve Harker explains:
Our customer manufactures Hash Browns which are part fried before entering a freezer for about 40 minutes until they are deep frozen. The freezer temperature can range from ca. –20 °C to –35 °C.
The stainless steel mesh belt was located in a purpose built freezer containing cage bars, supported by lubricated plastic carriage-ways. The major issue was the level of production down time caused by the high tensional forces between the existing worn belt and its support runners. The tension caused the belt to ride up around the edge of the freezer leading to breakages which were the number one cause of downtime, making the delivery of weekly production schedules almost impossible.
The customer asked Habasit UK to find a solution which would maximise throughput, minimise downtime as well as providing excellent freezing and cleaning properties to allow for an efficient clean down to be carried out at the end of each production run.
The spiral was a Low Tension system, which means that a central drum turns and drives the belt through friction against the edge of the conveyor belt. A secondary drive motor is fitted to the machine and this sets the belt speed and provides sufficient tension to enable the drum to drive the belt.
Our solution was to use the specialist design of the M5290 POM Spiral 2” pitch plastic modular belt. This provides a 57% product contact area which gives optimum support when carrying small items. The open design makes the cleaning process much easier.
Since installation, the plastic modular belt has helped to reduce wear and tear on the system as well as ice and frost build up. The issue of the belt snagging has been overcome by combining the belt with new plastic wear strip. Down time has been significantly reduced and this means that product on the line rarely needs dumping, resulting in a 33% reduction in product wastage.
Using a plastic modular belt has meant that when repairs are needed, there is no need for welding equipment and heavy tooling to be brought into the plant. The maintenance to the modules and rods can be done in minutes with basic tools and has meant that the freezer performance has improved as the airflow cooling fans do not need to be turned off.
As part of our contract with the customer, Habasit were responsible for the installation of the recommended solution and our in-house installation and maintenance were able to successfully complete the job within the allocated 3-day break in the customers production schedule, meaning that they did not incur unscheduled downtime.
The customers engineering manager said: “The freezer belt drive system is drawing significantly less electrical current which has resulted in a 50% reduction in energy costs. We found the service provided in terms of planning and fitting the belt were excellent. A high level of support has also been provided since the belt was fitted. Habasit engineers are able to give expert guidance and a continually reliable installation and backup service.”
The plant manager was also delighted and said “I had my doubts that a plastic belt could handle the forces inside the freezer, however, it has surpassed my expectations by some distance. Habasit did an excellent job installing the belt and runners within a production window and have continued to provide excellent aftercare support.”