Hygienic solutions for cleaner food & beverage production

Australian food and beverage manufacturers are held to ever increasing standards of product quality and hygiene. Strict industry regulations are continuously driving businesses to review and adapt their production practices. Consequently, clean and safe operation is a top priority for the food and beverage industry.
Damaged or contaminated products can be detrimental to business reputation along with the financial implications of costly product recalls. This pushes producers to carefully consider every production step to ensure they contribute towards required outcomes.
This is where conveyor solutions can offer a significant help. Well-designed conveyors are engineered to add value at every step of the manufacturing process to improve overall operational efficiency, safety and cleanliness. This also extends to packaging as even the slightest residue can negatively impact product quality.
“The majority of food and beverage manufacturers buy in their packaging. This can create multiple issues from potential contamination to operational inefficiencies. We always recommend integrating package sanitisation into the filling process and not think of it as an isolated task. This is a lot more effective and makes quality control possible.” says Brian Gilmore, sales director of FlexCAM a leading Australian conveyor system specialist.
Air rinsing is a commonly used practice to remove contaminants such as dust from packaging. It works by inverting bottles, plastic containers, glass jars or aluminium containers to allow air to be blown into the interior. “A bottle inverter gently grasps the packaging, turns it upside down for sanitisation, and then lowers the container back onto the conveyor line ready for filling. With the help of standardised bottle inverter solutions this step can be easily incorporated into any production line eliminating the need for additional handling and processing .” says Gilmore.
Bottle inverting has been widely used in milk production. As milk can be very susceptible to contaminants sanitising milk bottles right before filling is a common procedure. “Traditional cleaning methods lack fine product control. As a result, they can damage milk containers and cause production stoppages further down the line negatively impacting production efficiency.  They are also limited to handle sturdy containers. On the other hand, positive drive inverters are suitable to handle delicate packaging such as glass bottles, flimsy plastic containers or fragile high grade labeling.” explains Gilmore.
Bottle inverters using wedge technology offer gentle and accurate product handling by positively controlling the package as it is processed. Standardised wedge inverters can be engineered to handle multiple product sizes on the same conveyor line. They can be adjusted to suit different width, height and materials.
Wedge conveyor solutions also allow operation teams to introduce speed controls into the cleaning process without causing any downstream blockages. The sign of a good design is in its ability to consider the whole production process.
“Bottle inverters also have an important role in spacing or metering products in preparation for the next production step. This could include labelling, filling and pressure testing. In addition, they can be used to ionise plastic bottles to remove static or introduce in process inspection to reject any imperfection,” points out Gilmore.

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