Tulip Food Company provides chilled, frozen, and canned products to more than 130 markets via European production facilities and global subsidiaries.
The Tulip plant in Vejle, Denmark is one of the world’s largest canned meat producers. It had been using a reinforced fabric belt to convey prepared minced meat from the mixer to can and sausage fillers on a gooseneck inclining and troughed conveyor at a high product load.
The reinforced fabric belt presented the problems typical of tensioned flat belts, such as mistracking and damaged bearings. However, these issues were compounded in this hygiene-sensitive application, where something like a belt mistracking could cause the conveyor frame to fracture the belt or even rip off entire pieces. Likewise, damaged belt edges and belt cracking presented a constant threat of contamination and increased the likelihood of bacteria harborage. When sanitation personnel attempted to lift the belt to clean the conveyor underneath, the added tension could result in a puncture to the belt. Apart from hygiene concerns, these problems contributed to decreased belt life.
In an attempt to mitigate the risks that the tensioned belt posed, a team of two people was dispatched each morning to adjust the belt in the hope of preventing mistracking.
The Vejle plant approached Intralox with its challenge because every solution that Intralox recommends is guaranteed. In June 2010, Intralox performed a risk-free retrofit of its patented ThermoDrive technology on the line transporting minced meat from the grinding machine to the can and sausage fillers.
“I only have positive things to say about the work Intralox did for us. Even though we were retrofitting just a single line, Intralox handled the entire project from beginning to end in a thorough and professional manner. They made sure I was 100% satisfied before calling the retrofit complete,” said the plant’s Technical Manager, Niels Villadsen.
ThermoDrive belts operate with zero tension, so the issues of mistracking and belt damage due to tension were immediately eliminated. Additionally, the lack of tension allows for ThermoDrive belting to be easily lifted in place for cleaning.
Zero maintenance has been required on the line since installation, and the pre-production belt alignment duties are no longer necessary.
“Our production team is generally very skeptical about introducing new technologies into our plant, but there hasn’t been a single complaint voiced. We have literally not had to touch the belt since its installation.” - Mr. Villadsen
The plant’s experience with ThermoDrive belting has been so successful that it hopes to retrofit other lines in the future.