How conveyor belt selection can improve hygiene
Those involved in the food processing industry have a lot to deal with, from maintaining a consistent, high-quality throughput to navigating, and adhering to complex food safety and hygiene standards.
Choosing the right conveyor belt type and material is a crucial step in coping with these challenges. At Habasit we understand these challenges and why we work in partnership with our customers to develop industry-leading products for the marketplace and their application requirements. This is why it is a key area of interest at this year’s Food Processing Awards.
I’d like to use the opportunity of this year’s nomination to talk about how plant managers and those involved in product and process improvements can better hygiene and increase profitability by ensuring they use the best conveyor belt for the application.
When choosing a conveyor belt for food processing applications, hygiene should be the primary consideration. This will help to improve product quality and consistency, increase plant availability, with less time, water, and detergents required to clean belts and meet the necessary industry guidelines, such as 3-A, NSF, or EHEDG.
Hygienically designed conveyors should provide easy access to belting from all sides, allowing operators to inspect, clean, sanitize, and validate quickly and effectively. Special attention must be given to conveyor belts that are always in direct contact with processed food.
In applications where plastic modular belts are required because of their intrinsic robustness, reliability, ease of use, and sanitation, extra care must be taken to properly clean them, especially in the hinge area where small particles may accumulate.
Furthermore, opting for a smooth and flat conveyor belt design, with the minimum surface covered by hinges and rods can reduce the number of small gaps and pockets where debris can accumulate. This means fewer rinse cycles are needed to flush away organic deposits, so each cleaning cycle requires less time, labor, water, detergents, and sanitizers compared to traditional modular belting solutions.
It’s important that plant managers avoid belt materials that change mechanical properties or wear quickly when regularly exposed to harsh, chemical-based cleaning cycles, at elevated temperatures, and with extended contact times. Not doing so will lead to increased downtime and maintenance costs.
For applications involving very demanding hygienic requirements, Habasit has recently developed and patent-pending Super HyCLEAN, an innovative plastic modular belt that minimizes the use of rods and hinges to aid cleaning. Habasit Super HyCLEAN is ideal for use in meat, poultry, and fish processing applications and has been designed to deliver a fast return on investment by significantly improving plant availability and sanitation efficiency. This can be further improved again when used in conjunction with our industry-leading Plug and Play Clean in Place system (Habasit CIP system).
When Super HYCLEAN was independently tested, it was found that it delivered time and rinsing water volume savings of over 50 percent compared to the best-in-class modular belting available on the market. Furthermore, microbiological swab tests and CFU testing, showed the belts developed 20 times fewer bacterial colonies compared to the market-standard hygienic modular belts.
Whatever the food processing application, choosing the right conveyor belt, and ensuring equipment is designed with hygiene in mind is pivotal. Not only will it help food processors comply with industry standards, and save time, and resources, but it will also ensure the industry can continue to reduce the dangers of food product contamination.
Habasit Super HyCLEAN has been nominated as a finalist in the Hygiene and Food Safety category at this year’s Food Processing Awards, and you can vote for the product online.