A vibratory conveyor evenly distributes frozen chicken nuggets across the processing line.

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How to Maximize Your Food Plant Footprint with Conveyors

Feb 2, 2024

Many food manufacturers struggle with limited facility space that restricts their ability to expand operations and increase production. Cramped layouts not only impact efficiency but also pose safety hazards. Managing the available footprint is critical for increasing productivity and profitability.

Food conveyors provide an effective strategy to maximize production space by better utilizing not just the floor area but the entire volume of the plant. Conveyors can transform facility layouts and open up new configuration possibilities that facilitate improved throughput and efficiency. Using one piece of equipment for multiple purposes can also reduce the overall footprint of a food plant.  

Read on to learn more about optimizing your facility with innovative conveyor solutions.

BUILDING UP WITH CONVEYORS

Manufacturers facing spatial limitations can unlock the potential of their existing footprint by leveraging vertical space. This strategic solution enhances production capacity without expanding the facility’s ground area. PFI’s vertical conveying systems are key to overcoming these challenges.

Advanced Vertical Conveying Systems

PFI offers advanced conveying systems such as bucket elevators, incline belt conveyors, and vertical lift conveyors. They facilitate upward expansion and enable manufacturers to elevate products to different processing levels, including mezzanines. This increase in the usable volume of the plant maximizes the production area and streamlines processes. 

The Bucket Elevator easily lifts various bulk materials in a small footprint. It provides a continuous flow and minimizes transfer points. The Eleveyor incline belt conveyor is ideal for delicate products, ensuring gentle handling to maintain quality during elevation. The PURlift vertical lift conveyor offers a sturdy design for more demanding applications, ensuring secure elevation. This is crucial for maintaining the integrity of the products.

These elevation systems integrate seamlessly into existing processes. Adopting a vertical conveying solution allows food manufacturers to effectively address space constraints, scale production, and bolster profitability.

Ceiling-Mounted Conveyors

Ceiling-mounted conveyors are instrumental in maximizing space within manufacturing facilities. This design involves suspending a transport system from the ceiling. These innovative systems utilize often-underused overhead space to elevate materials and products above the production floor. 

This approach frees up valuable floor space for more operational activities and contributes to a less cluttered and safer work environment. PFI can adapt these systems to various load types and tailor them to meet the specific requirements of any manufacturing operation.

Construction Considerations for Elevation

Elevating products may require extra structures like mezzanines, platforms, access stairs, and catwalks. PFI manufactures these support structures and components like small elevators ideal for transporting totes and components. This helps maximize the use of vertical space while integrating smoothly into your facility’s elevation system.

GOING AROUND: OTHER WAYS TO INCREASE SPACE 

Conveyors play a vital role in food processing, not only for transportation but also for product quality enhancement post-cooking. The Curveyor, a unique curved belt conveyor from PFI, exemplifies this multi-functional approach. It expertly navigates obstacles like pillars, walls, and doorways. This enables manufacturers to use previously inaccessible areas, maximizing the facility footprint. 

The Curveyor maximizes a food plant's footprint by facilitating product flow in the most challenging layouts.

The Curveyor facilitates fluid product flow even in challenging layouts, enhancing production without expanding the facility’s footprint.  It minimizes the need for extensive modifications or additional square footage, efficiently using every available space in a facility.

VALUE-ADDED CONVEYING

Conveyors in food processing serve a variety of functions beyond product transportation. They streamline operations, consolidate equipment needs, and minimize the required floor space, leading to cost savings. PFI can equip them to perform many actions directly on the conveyor line, such as flipping, sorting, aligning, spacing, sizing, and even product treatment tasks, which traditionally require separate machinery. 

This approach, known as value-added conveyance, turns our equipment into multi-purpose tools. This multi-functional capability ensures you get more from your equipment, enhancing efficiency and reducing the need for additional machinery. Consolidating multiple processes into a single piece of equipment reduces the necessary floor space, optimizing the available area. 

Sizing, Grading, and Screening

Vibratory conveyors are the most versatile conveyors to add value throughout your processing line. One of the most prominent applications is separating products of various sizes. Whether separating different-sized products into multiple streams or screening out small pieces or fines, our VFII electro-mag vibratory conveyor ensures efficiency and optimal product flow without manual intervention or additional footprint. 

Aligning and Positioning

Ensuring products are in the right position for the next step in the process is vital for consistent flow and high production. Aligning and positioning solutions include conveyors that orient, spread, index, or deposit products while in motion.

The Retractor is a versatile conveyor that transfers, positions, arranges, deposits, loads, or rejects products 90 degrees to the next process without breakage or loss. This allows flexible line configurations and optimal space usage.

The Spreader preserves orientation while transferring products between narrower and wider sections of your processing line.

Merging and Sorting

Enabling multiple product flows that combine or separate between upstream and downstream processes optimizes production volume and efficiency, not to mention footprint. Our PURmotion horizontal motion conveyor features immediate reversing operation to feed two lines simultaneously and accumulate short-term, in addition to its superior gentle product handling and sanitary design.

Product Processing and Finishing

You might not first consider a conveyor to process or finish your food products, but these solutions can often handle these applications and eliminate the need for additional processing equipment. For example, using straight and curved belt conveyors to bring products to ambient temperature while transferring them to packaging. Or using vibratory conveyors to apply seasoning or sprinkles or enrobe a chocolate coating. 

This multifunctional use of conveyors adds significant value. It saves time, reduces labor costs, addresses workforce shortages, and improves food safety and processing precision. Incorporating these versatile conveyors into your food processing line can lead to a more streamlined, efficient, and cost-effective operation.

OPTIMIZING PRODUCTION WITH OEM INTEGRATION 

Efficient production flow is key to maximizing food plant footprint with conveyors. Expert OEM integration allows for the highest production efficiency. Investing in flexible, high-capacity equipment prepares your facility for future growth and diverse product mixes.

Our approach encourages processors to think creatively about their existing space. Rather than designing away from obstacles or expanding the facility’s footprint, our conveyors can navigate around them, using every available inch. This philosophy helps avoid unnecessary redesigns and construction, saving time and resources while enhancing production efficiency.

ENSURING SAFETY AND DURABILITY

PFI conveyor lines prioritize worker safety and the highest food hygiene standards.

While maximizing your facility’s footprint, it’s vital to recognize the importance of worker and food safety. We design our equipment to prioritize safety, featuring safeguards to protect employees and maintain the highest food hygiene standards. 

PFI’s equipment configurations prioritize safety by addressing crucial aspects such as head clearance under elevated structures and around other machines. Robust structural support prevents any risk of items falling from ceiling-mounted equipment, while a design with minimal moving parts ensures a secure operational environment. Additionally, features like non-slip surfaces on platforms and well-designed guarding for mezzanines contribute to an overall commitment to creating processor systems that prioritize the well-being of operators and minimize potential hazards.

From start to finish, we ensure that increasing your production capacity never comes at the cost of safety.

At PFI Conveyors, we prioritize sanitation and ease of maintenance in our equipment design. Our conveyors feature accessible components to simplify cleaning and upkeep. This reduces downtime while upholding rigorous food safety standards. We construct robust, durable systems that guarantee both peak performance and accessibility. 

TRANSFORM YOUR FACILITY WITH INNOVATIVE CONVEYOR SOLUTIONS 

The PFI team are experts in food plant optimization. For over 60 years, we have been helping customers maximize their production capacity through custom conveyor solutions that efficiently utilize all available space. 

Click below to learn more about our innovative conveyor solutions that will save space, improve efficiency, and increase your bottom line.

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