Conveying Tea: Challenges and Solutions

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According to the Tea Association of the USA, tea is the most widely consumed beverage in the world next to water. On any given day, over 158 million Americans and hundreds of millions more around the world are drinking tea. However, as processors of tea know all too well, there are numerous challenges associated with handling and conveying tea in either leaf, instant, flavoured, or bagged form.

Conveying Tea: Challenges

Conveying tea poses special challenges. Tea, whether in leaf, instant, or bagged form, is a friable product that is easily bruised and degraded when handled roughly. This damage can cause unwanted variations in the flavour of the final product. Because of its inherent friability, gentle handling is a key concern when conveying tea.

Handling tea also generates dust and fines. Tea particles which are too fine, or covered in dust, can cause problems in separation, blending, and packaging processes. Conveying tea can also cause static charge buildup, increasing the risk of an explosion from combustible tea dust.

Tea in leaf and instant form is somewhat abrasive, leading to higher rates of wear and tear on equipment. A final challenge relates to processors of flavoured teas – these companies require conveying equipment which enables fast equipment cleaning and turnaround at flavour changes.

Conveying Tea: Solutions

At UniTrak, we have worked with tea processors to help address the challenges of handling tea. Proven equipment solutions we offer include the following:

TipTrak™ Bucket Elevators

TipTrak™ continuous bucket elevators provide the ultimate in product gentle handling in continuous or high-capacity settings. The fully interlocking bucket assemblies of TipTrak™ units ensure that cut tea leaves and blends are handled with minimal damage and no blend separation. TipTrak™ PEC units are fully enclosed to address the problems of product dusting and the enclosed design protects product from being contaminated from airborne dust and fines.

Since tea dust can be combustible when ignited, TipTrak™ fully conductive units are available which eliminate any static charge accumulation that could lead to an explosion. Finally, TipTrak™ bucket elevators for tea processing can be supplied with high-wear buckets and drive assembly components that address the problems of abrasion as well as cleanable options for sanitary conveying.

Powderflight Aeromechanical Conveyors

Operating on the principle of gently conveying material via a high-velocity airstream, Powderflight aeromechanicals easily convey loose, instant or flavoured tea. Powderflight aeromechanical conveyors will not separate blended products, and the fully-enclosed design assures dust-tight conveying.  As Powderflight conveyors are self-emptying, they are a great choice for dedicated batch processing. With low power requirements, Powderflight conveyors are energy efficient and quiet in operation.

UniFlex Flexible Screw Conveyors

These simple and cost-effective conveyors are a good choice for conveying instant and flavoured teas. Consisting of one moving part, Uniflex conveyors are available in two sizes with capacities up to 10.8 cubic feet per minute. UniFlex conveyors are supplied with an infeed hopper, and these are available in three sizes (2.5, 4.0, and 8.0 cubic feet). Customizable options are also available.

To find out more about the challenges of conveying tea and which equipment options are right for you, please download our Tea Conveying fact sheet. To speak with a UniTrak application specialist about your tea conveying needs, please contact our sales department.

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