Tube conveyors are a great way to move large quantities of pet food through your manufacturing plant. The tubular design allows for the product to be conveyed over long distances without any significant wear on the materials, which is especially important when it comes to high-quality ingredients that need careful handling.

Designed for bulk material handling over long distances, conveying systems have helped tremendously in streamlining processes, improving safety, as well as cutting down on manufacturing and labor costs. Today, you can find conveyor systems in almost every industry – from mining, agriculture, automotive to food processing, and, of course, the pet food manufacturing industry.

This blog post will look at the key advantages of tube conveyors for pet food manufacturers.

Pet Food Production Trends

As of 2020, the pet care industry had surpassed $179.4 billion at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5.2% despite the COVID-19 pandemic, or perhaps even because of it. Various reports stated that the demand for pets practically skyrocketed because of the pandemic. It is a well-known fact that pets minimize the feelings of loneliness and depression that were particularly common during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s also important to mention that the pet food industry is growing about three times faster than packaged food industries. One major factor influencing this rapid growth mainly revolves around the customers’ increasing awareness and concern about their pets’ health. Other factors include:

  • The rising trends in nuclear families.
  • We are adopting more pets. 
  • Pet humanization.
  • Premiumization.

The pet food market share can be further classified by pet type, product type, and ingredients, among several others. Dogs are the fastest growing market share based on pet type (cats, dogs, birds, fish, and others). Dry food is also expected to grow in dominance for dogs, whereas for cats, it is wet/canned food. Aside from dry and wet food, other product types include snack food, veterinary pet food, organic, and others.

Tube Conveyors

Tube conveyors are, as their name suggests, material handling systems that largely consist of a sealed tube through which the material is conveyed. They are often used in processing more fragile materials because they can protect the product from potential damage, such as collisions and exposure to high-velocity airflow.

Tube conveyors come in two main forms:

  • Cable and disc tubular conveyors – This conveyor uses a stainless steel cable encased in nylon to drag solid circular discs along the tube. These discs gently push the material forward through the tube.
  • Chain and disc tubular conveyors – Similar concept, except the cable is replaced with a chain that runs through the tube. The chain gently pulls the solid circular discs along, which pushes the material forward, similar to cable and disc conveyors.

Tube Conveyors vs. Bucket Elevators

Pet food manufacturers have plenty of options and solutions for using conveyor systems in their facilities. Most often, bucket elevators are used to transport food during processing.

Yet, when it comes to bucket conveyors, there are several limitations and potential risks that need to be taken into consideration.

Sanitary design and compliance are good examples.

According to the food-grade regulations set by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), and the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA), pet food manufacturers are required to clean their conveyor systems regularly. There are many types of ingredients and materials handled and moved through these systems at different stages of the production process. All of these materials must adhere to the same sanitary requirements as human food products.

By their very design, bucket elevators are prone to causing spills, have limited layout options, require more space and maintenance. Bucket elevators are harder to clean and sanitize when compared to a tube conveyor system.

Enclosed tubing is typically made of stainless steel that is naturally corrosion-resistant. This steel may also incorporate a special finish that will make it easier to clean. Other alloys will have different properties from this point of view. Cablevey conveyors use both alloy 304 and 316, which have excellent anti-corrosive properties.

Tube Conveyor Benefits

Better Material Handling

When dealing with pet food, it’s important to remember that some pellets are fragile products. Fish food, in particular, is especially prone to product breakage, which affects salability and packaging. Tube conveyor systems ensure that any product breakage will be kept at a minimum throughout the manufacturing process.

Maintaining Proportions

Building the right nutritional mix is a huge factor for pet food manufacturers to gain a considerably larger market share. As mentioned earlier, premiumization is a determining factor for the growing pet food industry, meaning that providing consistent product quality can make or break your profit margins. There have been reported cases when an incorrect mix of ingredients resulted in pet deaths.

However, maintaining the right proportions can be a challenge since ingredients can have variable densities and granularities. This can lead to separation issues and affect proportional accuracy. Cablevey’s cable, disc and tubular drag conveyor system wins over buckets, pneumatics, vacuums, and other systems in this regard. This system moves material blends without actually changing the ratios designed by the nutritionist and employed by the manufacturer.

Eliminating Spillage and Product Loss

Cable and disc tube conveyors are enclosed systems that have minimal wear on long-lasting parts. Fugitive dust is kept at a minimum while also eliminating any spillage and product loss. The system also reduces the possibility of cross-contamination, which is relatively common with other transportation systems. And by using the included wiper disc and (optional) air knife, tubular conveyors can also be self-cleaning.

Flexible Design

Cablevey Conveyors also offer a great deal in terms of customization. Our tubular drag conveying systems come in different diameters such as 2″ (50.8mm), 4″ (101.6mm), 6″ (152.4mm), and 8″ (203.2mm) for different needs. Additionally, they feature a series of highly flexible and modular components that can cater to all sorts of factory floor requirements. These will help facilitate easy access and maneuverability throughout the factory. These components include the following:

  • Drive Units – Cables are pulled through a drive unit by an electric gear motor. Depending on the exact layout, the cable can enter and exit through either tube port so as to be in line with the specific system layout.
  • Funnel OutletsUsed to discharge materials from cleanouts and rotary discharges, Cablevey’s funnel outlets come in various sizes and connection types to fit each plant’s own needs.
  • Inspection Sections – Made out of food-grade plastic tubes, inspection sections allow you to inspect the conveyed product and observe the cleaning process. These inspection sections can also be installed vertically or horizontally, depending on your needs.
  • Sweeps – Cablevey’s sweeps can change their travel to any desired direction and area available in different radius dimensions and many different angles to fit restricted spaces.
  • Compression Couplers – They hold the tubes together in perfect alignment for the discs to have a smooth path. Their food-grade rubber gaskets also ensure that no water, air, or dust will enter the system.
  • InletThe inlets come in various lengths and slopes to accommodate different needs and material flows. If desired or needed, multiple inlets can be used on the same system.
  • Turnarounds – Turnarounds contain a sprocket to move the discs and cable around the system smoothly with applied tension.
  • Discharges – The discharge mounted on the system can either be open or closed, allowing materials to pass through or exit the conveyor at that point.
  • Brush Boxes – Cables and discs pass through the Brush Box, removing any remaining particles.

Low Maintenance and Even Lower Costs

Tube, cable, and disc conveyors often use smaller drives than bucket elevators or tubular chain and disc conveyors. This translates to less noise pollution and less power usage, keeping operating costs low.

In terms of maintenance, tube systems require only periodic inspections of the discs, cable couplings, and other components. If a disc becomes damaged, pet food manufacturers only need to replace that disc without having to replace the entire cable system. And being a self-tensioning device, constant manual cable tension adjustments are not required as with other systems.

Conclusion

While plenty of conveyor manufacturers create systems for pet food processing, not all of them offer the same efficiency, gentle use, and sanitary conditions as Cablevey. Our pet food conveying equipment is perfectly-suited to move all sorts of pet food materials and mixes, regardless of their composition and fragility.

What’s more, you can customize it to fit your unique needs and facility requirements while also enjoying the convenience of less downtime and maintenance at a minimum cost.

Contact us if you’d like to know more about how our systems can help your pet food manufacturing facility.