By Jonathan Thorn, Schenck Process
The pet food industry has long searched for a method to convey finished product from process to storage and packaging in a reliable, inexpensive, maintenance-free system that yields little or no breakage.
In the past the industry has relied heavily on mechanical methods. There are many advantages and disadvantages to conveying with mechanical and pneumatic systems.
Mechanical Handling is fairly inexpensive if conveying a short distance or transferring between process operations. However, the equipment - bucket elevators, conveyor belts, chain conveyors, and screw conveyors - have many moving parts. In addition to being high maintenance, they also provoke serious cross-contamination concerns, produce high amounts of breakage and occupy large amounts of space within the plant. In addition, the ability to change from horizontal to vertical with a mechanical system poses design layout problems.
Pneumatic conveying methods are fairly well known but typically misunderstood and disregarded due to the perceptions of breakage. Advances in system design and control makes low pressure continuous dense phase (LPCDP) a simple way to pneumatically convey dry pet foods with minimum product breakage and cleanliness unmatched by mechanical conveying methods.