In their jelly-filled pastry manufacturing process, a leading food processor was running two lines of pastries into one freezer. One line took up half the width of the freezer door, and the other took up the remaining space. The s-line conveyor system was made up of 6 separate conveyors. The raw pastries coming off the system needed to be physically placed in narrower lines to fit into the freezer, which required 5 people to manually organize the product.
Imagine picking up raw, jelly-filled pastries with your hands – not only was cleanliness an issue, but the pastries were frequently breaking. So if the line was scheduled to run apple pastries in hour-one, and blueberry in hour-two, but a quarter of the apple pastries broke and spilled in the first hour, each conveyor along the line would have to be pulled apart and cleaned separately before the next flavour could be run to avoid cross-contamination. The fabric belt was a challenge to take apart and re-assemble because it had to be tensioned and adjusted after each cleaning.
Our challenge was to design an equipment solution that improved efficiency and cleanliness by eliminating the need for manual handling of the product. Neither the freezer, nor the pastry forming and filling machine could be changed as each was a highly specialized and expensive piece of equipment. So we targeted the conveyor system.
Pure Ingenuity embarked on designing a piece of equipment that would automatically converge the pastries into the right spacing to enter the freezer with no human intervention. Our conveyor solution had to meet several important challenges. First, it had to converge on itself in order to automatically space the pastries. Second, it needed to maintain the s-shape to fit the plant’s layout and production requirements. Third, it needed to be one solid piece of equipment so that the entire conveyor could be cleaned in one simple procedure.
We designed a single-belt, multi-lane converging conveyor with integrated cleaning ability that was simple to take apart and clean. We used a modular plastic conveyor belt, which was not only more sanitary than their old fabric belt, but also easier to take apart and re-assemble because it didn’t need to be tensioned and adjusted.
We also designed an automatic washing system with a self-contained spray unit and a catch-basin underneath, which cleaned the belt on every return revolution. This ensured the belt was automatically cleaned between every single product run.
Now our client has one piece of equipment with a centre lane and two outside lanes that narrow down on each other, forming and lining the pastries into the correct spacing to enter the freezer with no human intervention. It’s a cleaner, more efficient and effective process that exceeds food safety regulations and saves our client money.
“Today, we have no more stops in production for cleaning. Eliminating human intervention in our process has improved cleanliness and reduced labour costs, while freeing our operators to focus purely on quality control. In the end, we produce a higher quality product, much more efficiently than before.” – Plant Engineer