Whether it’s digestives or custard creams, due to normal product degradation in the material handling process, biscuit crumbs are produced and create a mess wherever they are. However, when crumbs get under a conveyor belt in a biscuit factory the consequences can be serious and expensive. This is why a well known biscuit bakery turned to application experts Habasit to develop a process improvement – the result being, the installation of an abrasion resistant, non-fraying conveying belt.
This factory manufactures a popular range of biscuits including ginger nuts, bourbons, orange and strawberry creams for various supermarket outlets and as snack packs for hotels and airports.
They historically used various Habasit belt types including TT12 and F-5EQWT and everything was running smoothly until the last section of the application when the finished biscuits reached the end of line metal detector process. This is where any metal particles that may have contaminated the product are detected and the product is rejected.
On the metal detector there was a regular build up of biscuit crumbs under the belt and rollers. This debris was damaging the belt carcass and getting into the textile itself causing the belt to shrink in places, which caused irregular tensions leading to distortion and rippling that ultimately affected tracking control. The fabric was also rubbing and tearing on the conveyor machine’s framework causing belt failure.
“Uncharacteristically, belts were only lasting two to three months and the customer was getting through six a year!” says Simon Cartwright, Technical Sales Manager. A better cleaning regime would have helped, but as with any process improvement, addressing the root cause is the preferable option.
“What was needed was a belt with a protected carcass; due to the handling of friable products, the customer could not eliminate the generation of crumbs, therefore, the focus of the application improvement was to protect the fabric of the conveying belt from the generated product debris. Habasit’s solution was to install a T131/U Matt, a flexible belt encapsulated in a Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU) coating for protection. This belt type has a non-fray textile design with the textile locked in and sealed within the belt, therefore, using the coated carcass eliminates the risk of product ingress and fibre damage.”
Ten months on from implementing this process improvement, the new abrasion resistant, non-fraying conveying belt design has been successfully meeting the customer’s application requirements without any signs of failure. Biscuit production is running smoothly and the new, more stable belt operation means no tracking problems or the need to call out the site’s engineering team.
By working in a co-operative manner, Habasit and the customer have not only been able to improve the production process, the client has been able to make significant financial savings generated from the reduction of belt replacements and uptime availability of the process – a mutually beneficial ‘win / win’ for all concerned. (LC)