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Cablevey Case Studies

Internationally Acclaimed Coffee Roasting Supply Company Relies on Cablevey for Gentle Conveyance

Probat Inc. helps design coffee roasting plants and expansions for companies ranging in size from small regional roasting operations through large multinational corporations. Probat, which traces its existence to 1868, currently is the acknowledged world market leader for the supply of machinery and systems designed for the coffee industry. Its focus: to help its customers “get the best out of the bean.”

“Cablevey is one of the tools we have in our tool chest that helps us meet customer expectations,” said Scott Stouffer, vice president for Probat. “Companies that need quality whole bean coffee, or that need specific solutions for a number of pickup points and transfer destinations, are best served with a customized solution. And with Cablevey, we’re able to provide very customized conveying solutions.”

Stouffer is a coffee industry veteran with more than 25 years of experience. His experience with Cablevey conveyors began even before his start with Probat twelve years ago.

“Cablevey represents a way to move roasted whole bean coffee without any breakage. It can also be used to transport coffee grounds and green coffee. While we do work with other conveyor companies, I’ve found that Cablevey supplies the best means of gentle mechanical transfer for these friable materials,” said Stouffer.

Key Considerations Driving Conveyor Selection

While there are other conveying technologies and options, Stouffer said he often finds them lacking.

“We know what Cablevey is and what it does. While it isn’t a new company, it is constantly making improvements. If you want to look at that new guy on the block, pay attention to what they’re not telling you,” said Stouffer. Amidst specifications for throughput, distance, elevation changes, sweeps, and of course, food-grade qualified parts, coffee roasters should consider the following:

A key concern for coffee roasters is preserving the integrity of the coffee bean. Coffee beans are very friable, meaning that coffee beans can break easily. Because of this, processors should avoid moving them at high speeds above 140 feet per minute. In addition, conveyors must be designed to avoid introducing mechanical shear or sudden changes or directional shifts, or the beans will break. While it doesn’t impact the taste, it does affect quality perception.

Another factor important within the entire food and beverage processing industry is to avoid material contamination. Improperly installed conveyors or the wrong choice of conveyor can lead to broken beans, broken pucks (I.e., injection-molded carriers inside the conveyor tube), and broken cables. Broken pucks are particularly dangerous for any food process line since the puck materials typically end up in the food product being processed. If undetected, this can cause product recalls or destroy capital equipment. “It might be a week or more before the maintenance crew notices a broken puck. And then it becomes the question, which bag, or bags of coffee did those plastic pieces of broken puck wind up falling into?” said Stouffer. Should conveyor issues cause the pucks to go out of line on a grinder feed, for example, all that foreign matter could ruin machinery worth $250,000 or more and shut down production for an indefinite period of time.

This is an issue often overlooked, however one that helps contribute to worker safety. Certain conveying systems produce a lot of noise, and once the noise levels exceed 85 decibels, it creates a hearing protection zone. Prolonged exposure can cause noise-induced hearing loss. OSHA sets legal limits for a permissible exposure limit (PEL) of 90 dBA for all workers during the course of an eight-hour day.

The Cablevey Tubular Drag Conveyor Advantage 

The Cablevey tubular drag cable conveyor offers coffee roasters an enclosed, modular, and highly flexible system that is easy to clean and maintain.

The enclosed tube contains a sealed, stainless-steel cable running through its center. Circular discs are evenly spaced along the cable, creating pockets or spaced compartments to gently convey materials from one processing step to another. This enclosed design helps protect against foreign contamination of materials being conveyed. It also traps dust to aid with plant sanitation and safety.

Various inlet types or options enable conveyance of a broad range of materials that require gentle handling, including all types of coffee products from whole beans to finely ground coffee, breakfast cereals, specialty grains, snack food, and more.

Operators can elect the preferred cleaning option for either wet or dry. The system is easy to clean and maintain, to help speed product changeovers. In addition, Cablevey stands out for energy efficiency, with the standard motor incorporated into the system using significantly less energy than chain or pneumatic conveyors.

Depending upon volume required, tube diameters are available in sizes ranging from two to eight inches. The eight-inch diameter tubing enables throughput of up to 80,000 lbs./hour depending on material bulk density.

Intangibles that Perk Up a Business Relationship

Cablevey as a company is flexible and friendly, said Stouffer. This flexibility impacts all areas of business negotiations, from terms for order placement to changing delivery dates. According to Stouffer, “customers might start delaying projects for a few months, or on the flip side, accelerate their delivery schedules. Cablevey is the type of company that tries to accommodate either scenario.”

There have been occasions when a business relationship calls for flexibility with a payment schedule as well. “Cablevey gives us the flexibility to work with non-standard payment terms due to mutually established trust. We figure out ways to work around and within business situations and have never heard the word ‘no,’” said Stouffer.