Chopping unwanted material before removal has allowed one food manufacturer to boost hygiene and automation.
Natures Way Foods is a leading manufacturer of fresh convenient food including ready-to-eat fruit products such as apple, mango and pineapple slices and mixed fruit packs.
The preparation of the finished retail products from whole fruit generates peelings, cores and stone waste which all has to be removed from high care production and transferred to low risk areas.
For the manufacturer, the problem was that its existing operation was unable to efficiently handle the volume it had to process. Much of the waste material was collected in tote bins for removal.
Additional difficulties were presented by the various fruit types used in products which varied considerably in content.
Natures Way Foods employed Seepex to examine the problem, recommend a solution, and design and install the necessary equipment.
For the manufacturer, the problem was that its existing operation was unable to efficiently handle the volume it had to process
With proven application expertise in the food and drink industry, as well as experience of placing similar installations in a number of other companies, Seepex was chosen to solve the issues faced by the plant based in Chichester, West Sussex.
Over 18 months Seepex designed and installed progressive cavity pump systems to remove all process waste in hygienic enclosed pipework. A step by step approach was taken to each problem, only moving to the next when each one was solved satisfactorily.
For the original application of peeler waste removal, open hopper pumps with integral knives were installed. These chop the waste before pumping it via enclosed pipework to a dewatering unit outside the factory.
The pumps are integrated into the peeling line with ultrasonic level control; these replaced horizontal grinders sited over wide throat pumps that had suffered from bridging issues.
After the success on the peeling lines, more challenging problems were addressed, which previously had necessitated removal in tote bins from high care areas.
The company again wanted to pump the waste product to the dewatering area in enclosed pipework – even though this included mango stones, grape vines and other difficult products.
To limit the role of the tote bins, a customised system was developed. The bins are now tipped into a reception hopper and the waste is then fed through a vertical grinder and pump combination.
Because the waste is chopped before removal it can be dewatered to reduce the volume and subsequent transport costs, enabling easier disposal to composting or biogas production
The equipment grinds the waste to produce a slurry and then pumps it through enclosed pipework directly to the dewatering unit in the waste reception area. Finally, a pump with reception hopper, bridge breaker and integral knives, provides additional capacity for hand-peeled fruit waste and can act as a back-up to the other systems.
All the Seepex pumped systems have low energy requirements compared to blown or vacuum systems. They also do not require added water to function efficiently, says the company.
Natures Way Foods feels it has benefited from the hygienic automated waste removal and the elimination of tote bin transit between high care and low risk areas.
Because the waste is chopped before removal it can be dewatered to reduce the volume and subsequent transport costs, enabling easier disposal to composting or biogas production.
Seepex engineers delivered the solutions to Natures Way based on the specific systems requirements for each application.
The versatility and modular design of the equipment means that most food waste products can be handled by their systems, providing cost savings and improved hygiene for customers.