Engineered solutions to increase your belt conveyor productivity

This global approach by Flexco Australia has allowed it to stay ahead of conveyor trends and technologies for over 100 years and counting.

Flexco Australia prides itself in taking a hands-on approach to fully understand food application challenges related to belted conveyors and applies this knowledge to create innovative solutions to increase production yield and uptime. Food & Beverage Industry News reports.

Flexco Australia, experts in belt conveyor solutions, continues to thrive in the belt conveyor solution space because of an ability to retain key experts and present cutting-edge conveyor equipment to the industry.

The recent promotion of Adam Wright to the role of national light duty manager, Flexco Australia, is a prime example of both.

Wright has been with Flexco Australia for 12 years and in that time his expertise around conveyor solutions has only continued to grow alongside the global company. Prior to this, Wright spent 5 years in Light Duty conveyors working for an industry-leading belt manufacturer.

Originally working with Flexco in the heavy-duty mining industry in Western Australia, Wright was looking for a new career challenge and was thrilled to be promoted to the Light-Duty national manager last year which includes working with the food and beverage industry.

“Just about everything you touch has been on a conveyor,” Wright said.

“It’s an endlessly fascinating space and anyone who works within it will tell you the same.”

Right off the bat Wright’s passion for the space is obvious, and an example of the type of expertise the Flexco Australia team offer its clients.

“A lot of our products, here and globally, offer solutions for the food industry,” he said.

Among those products are the Novitool® Aero® splice presses, which are used to join conveyor belts together.

“There are two ways to join a conveyor belt together. There is the fastener, which we have food grade versions of. However, the most efficient and most food sanitary way to join a conveyor belt is with a splice press,” said Wright.

“Traditionally presses used to join belts endless were time consuming and a cumbersome process that involved using water which could lead to contamination. The Novitool Aero Splice Press range eliminates these issues by offering an air-cooled, compact press with splice times as short as 8 minutes.”

Wright said other presses could take as long as 45 to 60 minutes to cook the belt, resulting in unnecessary downtime.

“You can imagine what that is worth for a client in terms of production time,” he added.

“We saw one client at a bakery experiencing difficulties with the splice quality on an older, water-cooled press. This was very expensive and time- consuming for the operation.

Working closely with one of our distributors, we conducted site demonstrations of the Novitool Aero Press. The in-house crew was amazed by the ease of use and short splice time. All belts on site are now joined using the Novitool Aero Press, resulting in increased uptime.”

Flexco Australia was awarded the Excellence in IIoT Application Award for the Flexco Elevate Belt Cleaner.
Flexco Australia was awarded the Excellence in IIoT Application Award for the Flexco Elevate Belt Cleaner.

Food Grade Belt Cleaners are another area of product expertise for both Wright and Flexco Australia, helping to create a more sanitary production process.

“We design and manufacture our own products and then work closely with end users and our distributors both in Australia and globally to ensure our products are serviced to the highest standards.”

The efficiency created by belt cleaners also makes them a great process solution for food and beverage manufacturing.

Flexco offers a variety of engineered cleaners that have been designed with tensioning systems that keep constant belt-to-blade contact, creating a highly efficient system for removing food materials from the belt either at the head pulley or in a desired location on the return side of the conveyor.

“Product lost is money lost,” said Wright.

“On a conveyor system, if any product falls onto the ground, or sticks to the belt, resulting in carryback, it becomes unhygienic and costly for an operation.

Increased sanitation and reduced product loss are what our belt cleaners deliver.”

For example, large amounts of product waste were causing major concerns for a protein producer. Not only was the operation losing thousands of dollars of product a day, but the amount time of spent cleaning excess product off the floor was keeping their maintenance team from focussing on more important tasks.

After installing a Flexco Food Grade Primary Cleaner there was an immediate drop in carryback and unnecessary maintenance time.

The ability of Flexco Australia’s conveyor solutions to improve production efficiency is another key selling point, particularly with the current labour market.

“Everybody is time poor and the lack of skilled workers in the current environment is an issue for many companies throughout the industry,” added Wright.

“The more efficient we can make the manufacturing process, the more time operators can spend doing other tasks.”

Wright said a lot of customers had started to store Flexco products on-site, particularly with how easy the installation is with a range of their products.

“The fact you can do it within minutes is leading to sites keeping spares as a back-up plan in case technicians can’t get out there in time,” he added.

In terms of digital innovation, Flexco Australia is also heavily investing in IIoT to help future-proof and improve conveyor processes.

“We have a remote belt cleaner monitoring IIoT system which has been transforming the way mining operations maintain their conveyor system,” said Wright.

“This technology is being rolled out in other products and it’s also something we are looking to integrate into our food sector offerings in the foreseeable future.”

As an example of Flexco Australia’s ability to stay at the cutting edge of conveyor solutions was its recent win at the Australian Mining Prospect Awards, a sector which Wright was in before moving into his current role.

Flexco Australia was awarded the Excellence in IIoT Application Award for its Flexco Elevate Belt Cleaner Monitoring Technology.

This category recognises an outstanding implementation of IIoT that enhances mining and minerals processing operations. As Wright said, many of the elements which make Flexco’s mining solutions viable, also apply to food and beverage.

“The development of the Flexco Elevate solution was driven by real-world customer challenges. We really looked to challenge the way conveyor systems have been remotely operated, by utilising the IIoT device” said Carl Faulkner, contract Data and digital engineering specialist at Flexco Australia.

Wright also said Flexco has some of the best conveyor solutions he has seen.

“Our headquarters in the United States just recently expanded their new manufacturing facility with spaces built specifically for engineering and R&D,” he said.

“Our facility is the most impressive I have seen when it comes to manufacturing conveyor components.

For example, we have life sized heavy and light duty conveyors that we can run 24/7 to test new products.”

Wright said this approach is what helps Flexco continue to bring cutting edge solutions to the industry.

“When we bring a product to market, we make sure we go through the proper R&D process to ensure products exceeds customer’s expectations,” he said.

“We also have a manufacturing facility here in Australia and we’re incredibly proud of our Australian manufacturing capabilities and take pride in being able to employ people from our local community to create the best product for our customers.”

This global approach by Flexco has allowed it to stay ahead of conveyor trends and technologies for over 100 years and counting.

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