US food processing professionals identified cleaning and maintenance as the greatest challenge their operations face when conveying materials in a recent survey conducted by equipment maker Cablevey Conveyors and research firm Ascend2. Respondents said their second most-pressing conveying-related concern is downtime or service.
“The overwhelming challenge in conveying materials is cleaning and maintenance for 54% of food processing professionals, while a connected challenge of downtime is second at 33%,” the authors of “The State of Conveying” report wrote. “Both of the top challenges highlight the need to keep conveying systems running to maximize productivity.”
Notably, more than half (56%) of those surveyed said maintenance issues were a top driver for updates to conveying processes.
Asked why cleaning and maintenance represents the biggest challenge to food firms, Karl Seidel, marketing director for Cablevey told Powder & Bulk Solids: “Labor is the most expensive component of plant maintenance and processing; buildings and equipment costs are anticipated, amortized, and capitalized as a normal relied-upon expense. Therefore, if a system put into place is generating breakage, waste, and shrinkage - basically, making a mess for people to clean up - it's not a valuable system. It's not productive. It's counterproductive. It will cause the maintenance people more work; they will point this out to the production supervisor, who will tell the project engineer, or engineering group of the wasted time and wasted materials they need to recover or reclaim or throw away - and this is all a bad non-productive cycle caused by an inefficient system.”
Other top conveying issues reported by respondents include layout or space requirements (32%), broken materials (30%), energy consumption (24%), and contamination or cross contamination (22%). Dust explosions are a major conveying challenge for 13% of food professionals.
About of half of participants in the survey say they will be looking at opportunities to either upgrade or entirely replace their conveying systems within the next two years. Cleaning and maintenance are major factors when selecting a conveying system, the survey’s results show. 34% said equipment that is ‘easy to clean’ is a critical factor in their decision, and 29% reported that ‘minimization of maintenance’ is a vital attribute.
To learn more about conveying systems in food processing operations and the results of the firm’s report, join Powder & Bulk Solids, Cablevey, and Ascend2 for a free webinar, “The State of Conveying: Food Industry Research Results,” on Thursday, May 26, 2022 at 11 a.m. EDT.