Are you looking for conveyor options that keep things cool, calm, and clean? Then look no further than Hapman.
Hapman is a leading manufacturer of bulk material handling equipment and bulk solids conveyors. We recently sat down with Mike Zeluff, Senior Product Specialist at Hapman to talk about cleaning and conveyors.
Enjoy the conversation as we discuss different levels of cleaning and sanitation for food equipment as well as the reasons you might want to use a flexible screw conveyor, and why they’re so popular.
With global headquarters in Kalamazoo, Mich, Hapman is a leading manufacturer of bulk material handling equipment and bulk solids conveyors with thousands of installations worldwide. Learn more about Hapman and what they can do for you at hapman.com
Food Processing: What are some of the challenges the food and beverage industry faces when it comes to cleaning their equipment?
Mike Zeluff: Some of the challenges that are faced right now in the industry—whether it's the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or even dairy equipment—include time constraints, employee safety, proper equipment assembly/disassembly and cleaning. Additional challenges include meeting guidelines and regulations as far as a group or organization’s own internal processes go, following Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and, lastly, establishing and following proper cleaning procedures for a new piece of equipment they may not be familiar with.
FP: What are the different levels of cleaning and sanitation?
MZ: I would say the levels are from dry-clean all the way to a complete disassembly and washdown with different types of agents. Different levels can be pretty broad. When it comes to cleaning and sanitation, a food processor could start at a ‘dry clean.’ A dry clean is a process where a processor uses inert materials like grains, salt, corn cob grit to clean parts of their equipment. When it comes to a dry clean, processors can run ingredients like what I just listed through their equipment to clean screws and auger. In my opinion, performing a dry clean is probably the lowest or minimal level of cleaning.
Clean-In-Place (CIP) systems are a good option. CIP as it is referred to in the industry, is a process where an equipment manufacturer provides a system designed to produce a blended CIP solution with chemical detection and process control technology. CIP chemicals are delivered at target strength without the need for long “getting up to strength” times.
Complete disassembly is probably the most thorough way to clean and sanitize equipment.
FP: From your perspective, what are the best ways to clean and avoid cross-contamination?
MZ: For our type of equipment—screw conveyors and Helix conveyors—the best way to avoid any cross-contamination at all is to do a disassemble, which is not a difficult process. Our conveyors are mechanical-type pieces of equipment, so they can be disassembled for cleaning.
USDA Dairy grade Helix with Tool Less design. Photo: Hapman
You can CIP it, of course, but for the best overall guarantee of getting everything clean, I recommend disassembling the equipment and a performing a full (wet) washdown.
FP: Transitioning from cleaning to conveyors, let’s talk options. When is a flexible screw conveyor not the right option within the food and beverage industry?
MZ: I would say a flexible screw conveyor wouldn’t be a good option when there are issues with materials or distances. If you have a lengthy horizontal and/or vertical distance to go, or if you have to use multiple transitions for transferring your product, then a flexible screw conveyor could present an issue. This is especially true if you have a difficult-to-convey material like a cocoa powder or peanut powder. You want try to avoid as many transfers as possible, so anything that builds up wouldn’t be good.
Also, if a processor needs to fully evacuate the product, the Helix may not be the best fit. The reason for this being you will always have residual left in the auger tube.
FP: Why are screw conveyors like the Helix such a popular option for the food and beverage industry?
Stainless steel fixed portable base design. Photo: Hapman
MZ: I think the main reason screw conveyors, especially like Hapman’s Helix® flexible screw conveyor, are so popular are because there is familiarity to it. It’s a very versatile and user-friendly piece of equipment and many people on the plant floor have seen them in various applications. I’d hazard to say, it's one of the most common types of conveyors you see, particularly in handling dry and powdered materials.
I think people tend to want to use this type of conveyor because of its prevalence in the food industry. It’s a great choice as far as elevating product is concerned, especially getting it to and from mixers, blenders and fillers as well as to packaging.
It's a really common piece to use, which makes it more likely people will want to use it. It's certainly also a proven technology; it's mechanical and it's easy to decipher. Parts are readily available and if something does go wrong, it's pretty evident what or why something happened.
See all of the conveyor options Hapman has available. Visit hapman.com to learn more.