Gentleness of Tubular Drag Conveyors in Food Production

BY MPE | March 27, 2020 | Article , Process System Chain-Vey Food, Chemical, & Mineral

The topic of gentle conveyance in the production of finished foods, and any application where degradation is a high-value loss for plant managers, is fraught with misinformation and unsubstantiated claims. Tubular drag conveyors are a type of enclosed, dust-tight, space-saving and fully customizable conveyor system popular among many of the world’s leading finished food processors. Along with the many important features and value-adding benefits that tubular drag conveyor systems offer to plant managers, they offer one of the gentlest modes of transport among all conveyor types.

This article will explore the topics of gentleness from the following perspectives:

  • Gentleness in response to industry misinformation and unsubstantiated claims regarding chain tube drag conveyors.
  • Gentleness in comparison to other conveyor types, when looking at all conveying options.
  • Gentleness and all the other associated benefits that come with it.

Gentleness in response to misinformation and unsubstantiated claims

Within the conveyor manufacturing industry, the association of chains being tough and hardened is sometimes exploited by some to present false insecurity that something tough and hardened cannot possibly be gentle on delicate products. A more leading claim would be that something soft like small pretzels, pasta, or cornflake cereals will enter the chain tube conveyor and break on impact or be crushed during bends and elbows by the chain. Neither of these is true in a theoretical model, nor a measurable and testable approach. One such tubular drag conveyor manufacturer did a robust experiment whereby delicate in-shell pistachios were transported a long distance with multiple bends and tall verticals and found zero statistically significant breakage. With respect to the inlets of any of the leading tubular drag conveyors on the market, baffles and inlet designs control the speed and amounts of product entering the conveyor. A cornflake, pasta shell, or small pretzel will not break on contact with a chain’s hardened surface during a fall of 1.5” to 4”, which is the spectrum of radii from the smallest to largest diameter disc sizes. The other question of how safe the product is during bends and elbows is easily put to rest by the fact that all leading tube conveyor manufacturers estimate system capacities at 80% pocket fill. This provides more than enough room for the product to gently move in a controlled, contained, and gentle way. Again, real-world testing has put to rest misinformation and unsubstantiated claims. But what about gentleness when compared to other conveyor types?

Tubular drag conveyors gentleness compared among differing conveyors

Tubular drag conveyors are not the only gentle conveyors. But are all conveyors gentle? Or are others even more gentle? The answer to these questions is unequivocally no.

Looking at each competing conveyor type:

  • Pneumatic conveyors are known, despite many benefits, for being unforgiving on products. The high velocity of dilute phase pneumatic means product hits bends and elbows at high speeds.
  • Dense phase pneumatics are not much better as products just jostle among each other in no way that can be described as gentle.
  • Bucket conveyors can be gentle.
  • Screw auger conveyors are not known for being gentle because the nature of the screw pulls down and pinches product continuously, leading to measurable breakage.
  • Cable tube conveyors can be gentle

Now among the two conveyors which can be described as gentle on finished food products, is either one more gentle? Again, referring to the last paragraph’s link to a study on breakage, tubular drag chain conveyors yielded zero measurable breakage from the control group (unconveyed) and variable group (conveyed). One cannot convey gentler than zero breakage.

Gentleness and all the other associated benefits that come with a tubular drag conveyor

Very rarely will a plant manager look at the gentleness of the chain tubular drag conveyors as the only feature of consequence. In the totality of conveying options, chain tubular drag conveyors are gentle, as well as:

  • Dust-tight
  • Low energy-consuming
  • Quiet
  • Sanitary and able to pass bacterial swab tests
  • Completely customizable with unique layouts
  • Easily serviceable and a near-zero replacement parts cost in the first few years of ownership

It’s unlikely any equally gentle competing conveyor system can also provide this array of value-adding benefits.

If you’d like to learn more about what tubular drag conveyors can do for your application, you can contact this manufacturer for product testing and quoting.

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