Presta Industrie specializes in deboning whole hams and processes an average of 18,000 hams per week.
Hams arrive at the Presta facility hanging in a truck and need to be discharged onto a conveyor that will take them up an incline to the receiving area. Each ham weighs 8-13 kilos (17-29 lbs.) and falls onto the conveyor from a height of 1-1.5 meters (3-5 ft.).
Due to growing demand, Presta needed to increase production and sought a solution that would allow it to increase the speed at which whole hams were unloaded from delivery trucks. A two-part solution was chosen: a stainless steel roller conveyor and a flighted modular plastic belt set on an incline. Problems began only one month after installation:
- The stainless steel rollers were driven by a tensioned plastic band. When grease from the hams dripped onto the rollers and driving chain it would cause some of the rollers to cease turning, thus interrupting the continuous flow of hams onto the incline conveyor.
- Rollers became dented from the high impact of the bone-in hams dropping onto the conveyor.
- Once the roller conveyor had reached capacity, the hams would push onto the flighted plastic belt and flights would break off due to the weight of the hams. This caused contamination risks as the crew would occasionally find large pieces of plastic during processing.
- After a flight would break, the hams would slide back, causing blockages that could only be remedied manually.
- The strings holding the hams would get stuck in the rollers, creating a safety hazard as the operators had to insert their hands between the rollers to remove the strings and prevent blockages.
The equipment manufacturer involved in the project, Couédic Madoré Equipement, replaced the two-part solution with a single Intralox Tough Belt with Streamline Tough Flights. Owner, Mr. Brancherie, recounts, “We were able to not only get rid of a problematic transfer point, but also a drum motor, and the Tough Belt’s performance is still enormously better compared to what we had before.”
Manufactured from Intralox’s nearly unbreakable Hi-Impact material, the Tough Belt is able to absorb at least five times the impact energy of belt alternatives, with no breakage. “We were given the opportunity to try to break the belt with a hammer, but we could not. That’s a pretty convincing example of its strength,” said Mr. Brancherie.
The Tough Belt has been 100% trouble free, requiring zero maintenance or repairs since installation. Flight breakage is no longer an issue, thus the recurring maintenance cost and contamination risk have been eliminated. Furthermore, the low-tension system is not affected by grease or dirt. Mr. Brancherie comments, “Conveyors should make the work easier for my employees. Luckily, I no longer have to worry about this application. My people can be much more effective than before as they now have time to take on other duties.”
The new system has both eliminated the need for manual labor and ensures a higher, faster, and steadier throughput of hams to the receiving area.