Tubular drag conveyors are mostly used for food processing, but they can be found in other places, such as beer brewing and pet food production. The chief benefit of these conveyors is that they prevent product degradation and are gentle in handling delicate materials. They are also:
- Sanitary and able to pass bacterial checks
- Efficiently cleaned (multiple wet cleaning and dry cleaning mechanisms to choose from)
- Dust-tight (lower potential for dust accumulation or dust explosions)
- Free of foreign matter contamination
- Completely modular – with customizable layouts that fit any floor space
- Efficient – low energy-consuming
- Easily maintained (few moving parts – saves time on maintenance)
Tubular drag conveyors have been around for decades. However, their technology is advancing rapidly, and food manufacturers all across the globe are scrambling to incorporate them into their production processes.
In this blog post, we will briefly describe how tubular drag conveyors work and then elaborate on how they contribute to a wide range of industries.
How does a tubular drag conveyor work?
The main feature of a tubular drag conveyor is a tube that can be made from steel, plastic, or fiberglass. Through this tube runs a cable or a chain along which circular discs are evenly spaced. These solid discs push the conveyed material forward through the tube. The entire design is powered by motor-driven sprockets.
There are tubular drag chain conveyors and tubular drag cable conveyors.
Chain systems are not as sanitation-compliant as cable ones because various food particles and debris from conveyed material can get caught up in their joints. On the other hand, cable systems include a stainless steel cable that is sealed in a nylon jacket. This smooth surface protects the fragile material from the steel strands.
Overall, drag cable conveyors can convey material weight up to 80,000 pounds per hour (36,287 kg/h) and at maximum speeds of 2,000 cubic feet per hour (56.6 m3/h).
What kind of materials do tubular drag systems move?
Cablevey conveyors move over 1,000 different material types. Here are the most common applications of tubular drag cable technology:
- Delicate materials: Fragile materials are not robust enough to withstand the rough treatment of other transportation methods. They can include pasta, cereals, sugar, fragile fruit, and similar food products. Tube and cable conveyors have little “pockets” for moving large volumes of material. Between the discs in the tube, the delicate products are safe for transport at appropriate speeds and long distances.
- Hazardous materials: Toxic or hazardous materials include different industrial powders and side products created during the manufacturing process. These products have a high potential for explosion or chemical contamination and must be moved within an enclosed space. Tube conveyors are ideal for this, as they don’t let any of the conveyed material out.
- Clean materials: If you need to keep your product at a certain sanitation level, you have to make sure it doesn’t come into contact with the outside environment. This is again possible in an enclosed tube such as the one in a tubular cable conveyor.
- Small and powdered materials: Tubular drag conveyor systems are great for powders and other materials that can be easily blown away. They drastically reduce the waste of such materials and ensure efficient transportation.
Some products will fit several of these categories, and some only one. Either way, a tubular conveyor can safely transport all of these bulk material types, regardless of the industry your business is in.
That being said, here are some examples of how this materials handling equipment is used in a variety of sectors.
Different types of coffee can be transported within a production facility on a daily basis:
- Green beans
- Roasted beans
- Ground coffee
- Soluble coffee
- Freeze-dried coffee
- Spray-dried coffee
- Coffee with sugar and creamer
The ultimate goal here is to get the product to packaging with minimal breakage or grinding. It is a well-known fact that broken coffee beans or poorly handled ground coffee lead to poor taste.
Tubular cable drag conveyors are incredibly gentle on this type of product and can move it from point A to point B with minimal product degradation.
Cable drag systems (particularly the Cablevey Tube Conveyor) can move a wide range of nuts:
- Brazil nuts
- Macadamia nuts
- Pine nuts
Cable drag material handling solutions can be incorporated into practically any part of the production process: sorting, roasting, chopping, and packaging.
As with almost any other food material, the main advantage here is minimal material breakage and easy system maintenance and cleaning protocols.
Pop chips, caramel popcorn, chocolate chip cookies… If you’re in the snack food industry, you know the importance of product integrity. Drag cable conveyors will ensure that your food material safely travels through the entire process, from mixing to cooking or baking to packaging.
Tubular drag conveyors can replace bucket elevators, belt conveyors, pneumatic conveyors, and screw augers. They’re optimal for moving the following food types:
- Trail mix
- Nut mixes
- Dried fruit, and more
Tubular cable drag systems can transport pet food material in any form: cooked, powdered, chopped, and puree. Gentle, sanitary conveying is guaranteed no matter what type of bulk product you’re moving.
These conveying systems work for:
From the raw materials silo to mixers, the extruder, sifter, flaker, dryer, baking oven, flavoring, cooling, storage, and packaging – every step of the breakfast cereal production process can be accompanied by tubular drag conveyors.
Drag cable systems can be used for the following types of cereal ingredients:
- Flaked cereals
- Extruded ingredients
- Finished cereals
They can be effectively utilized for moving both ingredient mixes and finished products in breakfast cereal manufacturing.
Specialty Grains and Foods
Some food materials and products are incredibly delicate for transport, such as cooked vegetables or malted barley in beer brewing.
Tubular drag conveyors and their unique features (transport free of foreign substances and gentle material handling) lend themselves to these fragile food-grade applications.
Here are some more examples of specialty grains and foods that tubular drag conveyors can move in a safe and sanitary manner:
- Grain blends
- Industrial hemp
- Kidney and garbanzo beans
- Other brewery and distillery ingredients
Brewery ingredients can include both grain and mash. All sizes, combinations, and weights of grains are easily conveyed with tubular drag cable solutions.
The focal issue in transporting powder materials is material loss. Powders are fine and light, easily swept or blown away. Therefore, they require a system that is fully enclosed and that handles them with the utmost care. If this system can move the product in high volumes and at a relatively high conveyor speed, that is a big bonus.
The most popular conveying system for this application is the Cablevey 6″ diameter solution that moves up to 1,240 cubic feet per hour (35.4 m3/h), or 45,000 pounds per hour while maintaining product integrity.
Powders that can be conveyed this way include:
- Industrial powders
- Food ingredients
This transfer system safely moves ingredients of varying bulk densities. Mixed ingredients are contained in sealed capsules via a unique conveyor technology that keeps everything protected from the outside environment.
Outside the food processing sector, the uses of tubular drag conveyors include transporting biomass (such as wood pellets), and fluff, flake, pellet, and powdered plastics.
Moving plastics is associated with high heat and friction levels. Cable drag conveyors reduce this heat and friction so that no work stoppages are resulting from plastic accumulation.
Cablevey conveyor systems can leverage their cable & tube technology that is also used with powders to seal mixed ingredients in capsules, so they are safe during transport. Tubular drag conveyors can move all kinds of plastics, including pre-batched and regrind plastics of variable sizes and varying bulk density ratings.
Every conveyor type is suitable for a specific purpose. For example, belt conveyors are great for individual packages and items, bucket elevators work best for brittle material, while delicate products need a tubular drag conveyor to arrive at their destination intact.
Tubular drag conveyors are mainly used for transporting clean, hazardous, fragile, and small and powdered materials. Because of their high sanitary compliance, they are a perfect choice for food processors.
These conveying systems are the most effective in transporting coffee, nuts, snack foods, pet food, specialty foods and grains, breakfast cereal, and similar. Their main advantage is that they minimize product breakage and wastage during transfer, which is crucial in the food processing industry.
Tubular drag conveyors can also transport various materials that need special care, such as toxic materials, biomass, and different plastics. This equipment is particularly useful in reducing the heat and friction associated with conveying plastics.
On top of everything, don’t forget that tubular drag cable conveyors come with low energy consumption, easy cleaning and maintenance options, and can be designed for almost any factory layout.
Contact Cablevey Conveyors if you’d like to know more about outfitting your business with a conveyor system that will change the way you work for good.