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What You Need To Know About Frozen Food Conveyor Systems

by | Oct 26, 2022 | Conveyors

Conveyor systems have forever altered the way we move goods and products around. Replacing manual labor with a mechanized system, conveyors can move more goods faster and with more precision. No longer are we confined to moving objects by hand or with pushcarts. In fact, conveyor systems have become so integral to large-scale operations that it’s hard to imagine a time when they didn’t exist.

And while there are many types of conveyor systems in existence, each serving a different purpose, frozen food conveyor systems are designed specifically for the transportation of frozen foods.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the frozen food industry as a whole, how frozen food conveyor systems operate, and what factors you need to consider when choosing a system for your food processing business.

The frozen food industry: an overview

Frozen food is defined as any food that is kept at a temperature below its freezing point. According to product type, we can divide frozen foods into several categories:

  • Frozen meat and seafood
  • Frozen fruits and vegetables
  • Frozen dairy products (ice cream, yogurts, etc.)
  • Frozen bakery products (pies, pastries, bread, pizza crusts, etc.)
  • Frozen ready meals and convenience food
  • Frozen desserts

The global frozen food market is expected to reach USD 389.90 billion by 2030, growing at a CAGR of 5.1% from 2022 to 2030. Currently, Europe represents the largest market for frozen food, but Asia-Pacific is expected to witness the highest growth over the forecast period.

Unlike many other industries that have experienced a slowdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the frozen food industry has actually seen a surge in demand. This is likely due to the fact that people have been cooking at home more often and stocking up their pantries with long-lasting staples.

Market drivers and restraints

There are several factors that are driving the growth of the frozen food market. These include:

  • The increasing demand for convenience food: In today’s fast-paced world, people are increasingly looking for food that is easy to prepare and doesn’t require a lot of time or effort. Frozen foods fit this bill perfectly, as they can be quickly heated up and don’t need to be cooked from scratch.
  • The rising disposable income: As people’s incomes grow, they are more likely to spend on convenience and luxury items, such as frozen foods.
  • The advancements in technology: With the advancement of technology (especially frozen food conveyors), it has become easier to store and transport frozen food. This has made it possible for manufacturers to reach a larger number of consumers.

The one major restraint that’s impacting the growth of the frozen food market is the public perception that frozen food is not as fresh or healthy as fresh food, especially when it comes to fruits and vegetables. Many still prefer to buy fresh produce, even if it means spending more time cooking meals from scratch.

However, even this restraint is slowly being overcome as people are becoming more aware of the benefits of frozen food and the fact that frozen fruits and vegetables can actually be fresher than fresh produce, as they are frozen at the peak of ripeness.

Market challenges

There are still various opportunities for the frozen food market to expand, especially in developing regions such as Latin America and South Africa. In these regions, the demand for frozen food is growing, but the infrastructure needed to store and distribute frozen food (such as cold storage facilities and conveyor systems) is not yet in place. This presents a challenge for manufacturers who want to enter these markets.

Another challenge the frozen food market faces is the increasing need to innovate and keep up with the latest food trends. Consumers are becoming more health conscious and are looking for healthier options, such as gluten-free, low-sugar, and organic foods. To meet this demand, manufacturers need to continuously come up with new products that meet these criteria.

How can your business stand out?

Now that we’ve outlined some of the challenges and opportunities that the frozen food market presents, let’s take a look at how your business can stand out in this increasingly competitive landscape:

  • Keep up with the latest trends: As we mentioned earlier, one of the challenges that the frozen food industry faces is the need to constantly innovate and keep up with the latest food trends. To stay ahead of the curve, it’s important to be on the lookout for new trends and to develop products that meet the latest demands. At the moment, these trends are centered around organic, plant-based food options.
  • Invest in marketing: In order to convince people to buy your frozen food products, you need to invest in marketing and make sure that your target consumers are aware of your brand. You can do this by investing in advertising, social media marketing, and public relations.
  • Invest in state-of-the-art technology: By investing in state-of-the-art freezing, transport, and storage facilities, you can ensure that your products are of the highest quality and that they reach your consumers in perfect condition.

This last point, especially, is essential if you want to succeed in the frozen food market. With the right technology – which includes conveyor systems – in place, you can ensure that your products are stored and transported properly, making them more likely to reach your consumers in impeccable condition.

Challenges of conveying frozen food

To better understand how a specialized frozen food conveyor system can benefit your business, it’s important to first understand the challenges that come with conveying frozen food.

  • Fragile or delicate products – Frozen food, particularly frozen fruits and vegetables such as berries, are delicate products that can be easily damaged during the conveying process. Damaged product leads to increased product waste, which in turn leads to higher production costs.
  • Food safety regulations – Food processors cannot afford to have their products contaminated during transportation. Without a conveying system that follows the strictest sanitary regulations, there is a risk of cross-contamination, which can lead to product recalls and serious damage to your brand’s reputation.
  • Low-temperature operation – One of the challenges of conveying frozen food is that the product needs to be kept at a constant low temperature throughout the entire process. If the product warms up even for a short period of time, it can lead to product deterioration and, ultimately, food waste.
  • Frequent line changeovers – It isn’t uncommon for frozen food manufacturers to need to change their production lines frequently. This can be due to seasonal changes or the introduction of new products. Without a conveyor system that is easy to change and adapt, this process can be time-consuming and expensive.

The right frozen food conveyor system can help you overcome these challenges and ensure that your products are conveyed efficiently, safely, and cost-effectively.

Benefits of having a good frozen food conveyor system

Aside from the obvious and expected benefit of being able to move your product from one point to another, there are several other benefits that come with having a good frozen food conveyor system.

  • Faster line speeds – One of the main benefits of having a good conveyor system is that it can help you increase your line speeds and, as a result, increase your production capacity.
  • Improved product quality – As mentioned earlier, one of the challenges of conveying frozen food is the risk of product damage. With a conveyor system that is designed specifically for frozen food products, you can minimize the risk of product damage and ensure that your products are conveyed in the best possible condition.
  • Reduced product waste – By investing in a conveyor system for frozen food products, you can reduce the amount of product waste due to damage during the conveying process.
  • Improved worker safety – Another benefit of having a good conveyor system is that it can help improve worker safety. When workers don’t have to lift and carry heavy loads of frozen food, they are less likely to suffer from injuries such as back strains.

These are just a few of the benefits that come with having a good frozen food conveyor system.

But what does that mean, a ‘good’ frozen food conveyor system?

One of the first things to consider is the type of conveyor system you need.

The right type of conveyor

There are dozens, if not hundreds, of different types of conveyor systems on the market. So, how do you know which one is right for your business?

The most common type of conveyors used in the frozen food industry are:

  • Belt conveyor – Belt conveyors are made up of two or more pulleys that are connected by a belt. The belt is typically made of PVC or PU and can be either flat or troughed. Some of the disadvantages of belt conveyors are that they can be slow and not suitable for inclines or declines.
  • Pneumatic conveyor – Unlike belt conveyors, pneumatic conveyors use air pressure to move product through the conveyor. These types of conveyors are typically used for dry, free-flowing products such as grains, powders, and pellets. However, they can also be used for some frozen food products. Unfortunately, pneumatic conveyor systems are not gentle on the conveyed material and can cause damage, sometimes even severe material damage.
  • Chain conveyor – A tubular chain conveyor can be suitable for both frozen and non-frozen food products. These types of conveyors can be faster than belt conveyors and can handle more weight. However, the chain in these systems is directly exposed to the conveyed product, which can lead to contamination if the system is not properly cleaned and maintained.

As you can see, none of the traditionally used conveyor solutions are ideal for conveying frozen food.

However, alongside these three main types of conveyors used for frozen food products, there is one more that actually meets all the specific needs of this industry: the tubular cable and disc conveyor.

Tubular cable and disc conveyor

The tubular drag cable conveyor is similar in design to the tubular chain conveyor – it consists of an enclosed tube through which moves a series of solid circular discs. Instead of being attached and powered by a chain, however, the discs in this system are moved by a cable.

The cable in cable and disc conveyors is sealed in nylon jacketing, which not only protects the cable from the product being conveyed but also prevents the product from coming into contact with the cable. This makes this type of material handling equipment much more sanitary than other types.

Here are some other benefits of the tubular cable and disc conveyor in frozen food transport:

  • Gentle conveying – As we already mentioned, the cable conveyor is much gentler on the conveyed material than other types. The evenly spaced discs bracket the transported product or raw material and move it through the enclosed tube without any sudden jolts or changes in direction. This is ideal for delicate frozen products that could be easily damaged.
  • Clean-in-place mechanisms – To ease the cleaning process, Cablevey tubular cable and disc conveyors come with clean-in-place (CIP) mechanisms. These enable the system to be cleaned quickly and easily without having to disassemble any of the parts.
  • Fully enclosed – As the name suggests, tubular cable and disc conveyors are fully enclosed. There is no risk of product contamination, and it is much easier to maintain a consistent temperature throughout the system.
  • Various capacities – Thanks to different tube diameters, Cablevey cable and disc conveyors can be used for a wide range of capacities, from 21,000 lbs/h to 80,000 lbs/h.
  • Space-saving – Unlike belt conveyors, which typically need a lot of floor space, tubular cable and disc conveyors can be installed in a much smaller area. If your facility layout is limited, this type of conveyor could be the ideal solution.
  • Energy-saving – Compared to some other systems, tubular cable and disc conveyors use less energy. Using less energy enables you to save on running costs and is also better for the environment.
  • Modular design – What Cablevey offers that other manufacturers don’t is a modular design. This means that our tubular cable and disc conveyors can be easily customized to the specific needs of your application. We focus on flexibility and seamless integration so your conveyor system can perfectly adapt to the frozen food products you need to transport. Finally, as your business expands, our conveyor systems can be easily expanded too.

How to make the right conveyor choice

Now that you know the basics of frozen food conveyor systems, you need to decide which type is right for your application. Here are some factors to consider:

  • Size and weight (bulk density) of the product – Despite our preference towards tubular cable and disc conveyors, the fact is that these systems are not suitable for all applications. If you need to convey very large or sticky products, then another type of conveyor system may be more appropriate.
  • Shape of the product – Another factor to consider is the shape of the product. If you need to transport long and/or irregularly shaped items, then a belt conveyor may be a better option.
  • Conveyed material – As we’ve already mentioned, the type of product you need to convey will have a big impact on the choice of a conveyor system. If you’re conveying raw meat or other products that could leak or drip, then it’s important to choose a system that is easy to clean.
  • Environment – The temperature, humidity, and other conditions in your facility will also need to be taken into account when choosing a conveyor system. If you’re conveying frozen food, then obviously, you’ll need a system that can maintain low temperatures. But even if you’re not transporting frozen goods, it’s still important to consider the conditions in your facility. For example, if you’re conveying food that could be affected by humidity, you’ll need a system with good sealing to prevent moisture from entering.
  • Capacity – The capacity is another key factor to consider when choosing a conveyor system. You need to make sure that the system can handle the required throughput for your application.
  • Layout of your facility – The layout of your facility will also have an impact on the type of conveyor system you need. If you have limited space, a tubular cable or disc conveyor may be the best option. But if you have a more flexible layout, then you may be able to choose from a wider range of options.

There are more factors to take into account when choosing a frozen food conveyor system, but these are some of the most important ones.

The best course of action would be to contact a specialist conveyor manufacturer like Cablevey Conveyors. We have over 50 years of experience in the design and manufacture of tubular cable and disc conveyors, and we would be happy to advise you on the best system for your needs.

Contact us today!

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