Broadening Spiral Conveyor Agility Options
The spiral conveyor has become integral to manufacturing environments ranging from food processing and agriculture to chemical, pharmaceutical, and beyond. Spiral freeze manufacturers have played a significant role in food processing where cooling and freezing are vital processes. Throughput and space savings via their small footprint and their clear asset in automated manufacturing have been universal benefits of spiral conveyors. It’s also important to understand how different spiral conveyors can provide a variety of agility options to manufacturers.
The spiral conveyor has been around for quite some time and is continuing to evolve. That evolution has led to several spiral conveyor designs that provide unique benefits within a consistent operational framework. Spiral conveyor manufacturers generally provide two predominant designs that include spiral conveyors with and without a center drum.
A drum-based spiral conveyor relies on the modular belt that twists around the drum structure in the center. The conveyor belt slides on rails tied to external support columns to reduce friction. They fashion the cylindrical stainless-steel drum at the center as a solid drum of stainless-steel plating or through the use of pipes. Gear motors at the bottom of the drum transfer power to the drum via a chain transmission, which turns the drum and moves the belt via friction transference.
While this type of spiral conveyor is still common today, it has its potential drawbacks, such as the need for precise tensioning between the belt and the drum to avoid a common challenge of slipping. This can affect efficiency, process guidelines, production throughput and maintenance. Drum spiral conveyors also have rigid designs and configuration parameters that can be downsides.
Spiral freeze manufacturers and other manufacturing sectors that rely on the spiral conveyor also rely heavily on a drum-free design that uses an external drive for conveyance. This design removes the drum and replaces it with an external framework system that uses sprockets to interconnect with the teeth of the belt. The stainless-steel structure has a gear motor located at the bottom, which connects to a vertical shaft within the vertical framework. This rotates the shaft and the interlocking belt sprockets to transfer movement to the spiral belt.
While legacy drum drive systems must be perfectly round and bring restrictions on direction and height, external drive spiral conveyors have no such restrictions. Countless configuration possibilities include:
- Variable inclines
- Round or oval shape
These aspects and the ability to mount them around columns provide a great deal of flexibility to meet building footprints and enable complicated configurations.
Even within this drum-free spiral conveyor setup, there are different approaches from different spiral conveyor manufacturers. These differences accommodate things like optimizing sanitary aspects of food processing and the use of metal or plastic modular belts. Although food manufacturers have chosen stainless steel conveyor belts for food processing because of their inherent sanitary, easy cleaning, and longevity aspects, plastic conveyor chains now meet or exceed those performance capabilities.
The nearly limitless configuration options of plastic conveyor belts coupled with those of the spiral conveyor bring enormous flexibility to manufacturers in food processing and pharmaceuticals, which both have highly variable needs. Spiral freeze manufacturers can gain enormous advantages from this adaptability to better align manufacturing footprint and process.
To learn more about the versatility and efficiency of the latest innovations from leading spiral conveyor manufacturers, visit the Conovey Hollitherm Spiral Conveyor page.