Conveyors that move products for human or animal consumption are typically required to meet special design and cleanability criteria to ensure product safety and reduce the risk of bacterial contamination. These criteria are often referred to collectively as “sanitary design.”
However, the actual requirements for the design of the conveyor and its ability to withstand cleaning are specific to the application – the product being conveyed, the process being performed (i.e. food manufacturing versus inspection or packaging), and even regional or industry-specific health and safety requirements. In most applications, once the primary processing is complete, handling the packaged product calls for a washdown-compatible – but not necessarily sanitary – conveyor.
In either case, this means the conveyor should be made of materials that are highly resistant to rust and other forms of corrosion – stainless steel and plastic – as much as possible, or in some cases, exclusively. In addition to using stainless steel and plastic materials, most sanitary and washdown-compatible designs use continuous welds instead of mechanical fasteners wherever possible to eliminate crevices where water or chemicals can accumulate. They should also have open corners to prevent “blow-back” during washdown operations. Good design practices for sanitary washdown conveyors also include minimizing horizontal surfaces (slightly inclined surfaces are preferred) to reduce or eliminate places where water can accumulate and thus debris can accumulate and bacteria can grow.
For more information on the difference between sanitary and washdown requirements, read our post, Sanitary Versus Washdown: What’s the Difference?
When You Need a Stainless Steel Pallet Conveyor
Washdown is required
One of the first criteria to consider when choosing a conveyor is the environment it will be used in. Washdown requirements are most often encountered in the food industry, but they are also common in chemical manufacturing, pharmaceutical and nutraceutical production.
You package food or pharmaceutical products
Foods, pharmaceuticals, nutriceuticals, and other ingestible or medical goods commonly require sanitary designs for primary processing. They then require washdown-compatible designs for inspection, packaging, and handling of packaged goods.
- Meat and Poultry – Raw and Pre-cooked Meats and Poultry
- Fruit & Vegetable – Bagged Salads, Pre-cut Fruit
- Prepared Meals – Dinners, Pizza
- Frozen Foods – Pizza, Bagels, Seafood, Appetizers
- Bakery / Snacks – Breads, Cakes, Pies, Cookies
- Candy & Confectionery – Candies, Chocolate
- Bulk Pharmaceuticals – Tablets, Capsules
- Chemical Processing – Highly Acidic or Highly Basic Chemicals
Each of these should be conveyed using a stainless steel conveyor, pallet or otherwise, to maintain high quality standards.
Bacterial contamination is an absolute non-starter
Even if you’re not processing edible goods, bacterial contamination of products can also be an issue to consider. If there is the slightest possibility that contamination could harm the product, it’s best to choose a stainless steel pallet conveyor that can withstand washdown conditions to eliminate bacteria from the line.
The environment is wet, humid, or corrosive
Manufacturing equipment may need to be periodically washed down, occasionally with high pressure water, steam, and/or chemicals to maintain a clean environment and mitigate contamination in the facility. But standard industrial-duty conveyors are not suitable for these wet, humid, and corrosive environments. Stainless steel conveyors are best suited for these conditions because they can withstand the moisture and potential corrosive cleaners used.
Conveyor Options for Washdown Applications
Conveyors for washdown applications are typically made of stainless steel and plastic components to minimize rust and the contamination it can cause. But the conveying media also plays a role in determining whether a conveyor is washdown-compatible.
When considering a conveyor partner, we recommend you also consider how innovative and proactive they are at adopting the latest technologies and applying best-practices. The team at NCC understands this, and we take our responsibility to provide the absolute latest in washdown-compatible and sanitary design technology and the most updated regulation advice very seriously. No matter your industry, the team at NCCAS has a unique understanding of which levels of sanitary or washdown-compatible conveyor construction are needed at each step in the automation and handling process.
NCC Automated Systems is Your Choice for Stainless Steel Pallet Conveyor Systems
Regardless of your application, NCC Automated Systems can help you find the right stainless steel pallet conveyor for your exact requirements, with no compromises. Not only can we help you find the right solution, we can help you integrate it into your next project.
What Sets Us Apart
NCC Automated Systems has over 30 years of experience building conveyors for the food, beverage, pharmaceutical, and other industries where cleanliness is an absolute necessity. Our food industry expertise means we understand the need for easy-to-clean and washdown-compatible solutions, with zero margin for error.
We work with you to develop an incredibly detailed and accurate proposal based on all the factors of your application: product being transferred, special handling requirements, transfer path, intermediate and end processes, accumulation needs, and more. With this detailed plan, we build the conveyor that best fits your application, on time and on budget.
Even with tight deadlines, we stand behind our promise to deliver a system that meets your expectations. We guarantee performance and don’t receive payment until this is satisfied. With our experience across many different industries and our strong relationships with a diverse set of vendors, we can incorporate the latest technologies and innovations into our designs and your solution.