Alliance aims to help food sector tighten its belt

By Jane Byrne

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Food

Collaboration on belting technology development and installation can improve food safety, quality assurance and operational efficiency for food processors, claims one of the US companies involved in the new partnership.

Modular plastic belting manufacturer, Intralox, said it is teaming up with the Michigan-based Mol Belting Systems to steer the take-up of Mol’s low-tension belting, the ThermoDrive, in the food processing sector, as well as to enhance its line of hygienic conveyance systems.

Roles

A spokesperson for Intralox told FoodProductionDaily.com that while Mol’s role is to manufacture current versions of the product and to expand the product line by developing additional types of belts using the patented ThermoDrive technology, Intralox will help customers select the right belt for a particular application, train them in the technology, assist with installation where required, and provide service in emergencies.

“Mol subsidiary, Thermodrive LLC, will manufacture large rolls of the belt and ship them to Intralox, who will then customise it to suit a particular customer’s order, such as cutting it to the right width and length, preparing the ends to make the belt endless and adding flights to the belt if so required,”​ she continued.

Output and safety

When asked how ThermoDrive and Intralox modular plastic belting differ, the spokesperson said that while both are low tension positive drive systems designed for hygienic applications in food processing, the ThermoDrive belt, as it has no hinge holes or rods, has the ability to form a trough for conveying loose or liquid product.

“It also has a 100 per cent closed surface so that liquid cannot drain through and small products will not become lodged in the belt, which can increase yield in some applications.

“Furthermore, it has been shown to maintain consistently low bacteria counts during production, which is especially important for ready to eat foods.”

Cleaning

The Intralox spokesperson said that a processing facility seeking more hours per day for production runs through a reduction in the time needed for its cleaning shift can do so with the installation of a ThermoDrive belt, as the belting system enables fast cleaning.

“This same ability for quick/thorough cleaning is also important to help avoid allergen contamination during production changeovers,”​ she added.

Application specific

She stressed though that modular plastic belting is more durable in high impact applications, particularly those that involve sharp bones as these could tear a ThermoDrive belt, with modular plastic belting also easier to repair.

“So, for some applications, there is a clear choice for ThermoDrive; in others, for modular plastic. In the grey area, it depends on the customer’s preferences and the tradeoffs they are willing to make,”​ said the spokesperson.

Payback

She said that investment in ThermoDrive belting can result in a payback time of only a few months, particularly if a food processor is aiming to solve any tracking or tension problems that are often associated with traditional fabric or plastic flat belts:

“If a customer is installing new equipment, the cost of a conveyor using ThermoDrive, due to the operational efficiencies it brings, may actually be less than the cost of a conveyor using old style (tensioned) flat belts.”

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