Conveyor efficiency, from an OEM and a baker
The Baking Industry Forum, a special group aligned to the Bakery Equipment Manufacturers and Allieds organization (BEMA), is in place to tackle the issues of the baking industry in a collaborative forum where members from the OEM community, together with bakery manufacturing professionals, hash out the issues that challenge the industry.
The topic for this article, conveyor efficiency, offers unique viewpoints from both an OEM and a baker. With modern day bakeries having hundreds to thousands of feet of conveyor, this is certainly a moving subject.
From a baker’s perspective, conveyors add no value to the end products we produce. However, making our products without them would simply be impossible. Therefore, conveyor performance and reliability are extremely critical. Belt drag and belt tracking issues, in applications where product alignment is critical, can lead to higher waste levels, as well as increased maintenance and repair dollars.
Solid bed conveyors, if designed too long, can experience an excessive amount of friction between the belt and the conveyor bed. This situation will cause the belt to stretch and contract creating surging. When using conveyers to stack products or to feed downstream automated packaging systems, belt surging is a big problem due to the fact that product row rates are constantly changing. This issue will make downstream automation less efficient due to product lanes moving outside of the allowable tolerances.
Even worse, improper belt tracking can lead to damaged or destroyed conveyor belts. Sadly, in my experience, improper belt tracking has been the No. 1 reason causing the need to replace conveyor belts.
When deciding which conveyor is right for your application, be sure to work with a supplier who fully understands your process. If you find yourself wondering if you are spending too much time and money repairing and replacing belts on your conveyors, you probably are! Do yourself a favor and replace it with the right conveyor that fits your needs.
As an OEM of bakery equipment, we have electrical standards and we build to our customers’ standards. When discussing drives that are used our equipment, it is most often answered by saying “we use premium efficiency motors.” It is important to properly engineer the application of any motor to the intended task.
Electrical energy input is measured in watts, while output is given in horsepower (hp); 1 hp is equivalent to 746 watts. Energy-efficient motors generally have longer insulation and bearing lives, lower heat output and less vibration. In addition, these motors are often more tolerant of overload conditions and phase imbalance. This results in low failure rates. In addition, efficient motors only provide savings when they’re running, and the more the motors run, the more energy and money they save.
Replacing a standard-efficiency motor with a premium motor usually increases the savings and decreases the payback period. Remember: A payback in 2.4 years is equivalent to a 34 percent return on investment.
In our world, the conveyors we use—as Brandon Heiser mentioned—convey product. As the product is conveyed, it is moving at a slow rate of speed and potentially moving across the conveyor surface. Some product will move far enough and potentially get jammed in the conveyor. When this occurs, the motors will work harder which means more friction and higher amps of the drive. As OEMs, we need to engineer our conveyors to be as user-friendly as possible.
BIF, BEMA’s Baking Industry Forum, provides the industry with a strong resource for ideas and expertise based on research and years of experience. Seven bakers and seven suppliers work together as the Baking Industry Forum. This committed group explores issues common to everyone in the baking industry, such as preparations for FSMA, the importance of training, how to hire veterans, safety and more. For more information, visit www.bema.org/bif.