Dry pet foods (sometimes called kibble) are made from a variety of ingredients. Each brand has its own recipe or formula that combines the raw ingredients into an edible and digestible product. Not all brands do their own manufacturing – some brands hand their formula off to an animal food manufacturer who mixes, bakes, and bags the product for sale. Whether the manufacturing is insourced or outsourced, producers have to contend with the challenges of conveying dry pet food ingredients and product within their operations.
Ingredients used in dry pet foods
Although each brand of dry pet food has its own proprietary recipe or formula, in the USA each brand must adhere to standards that are regulated by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). These standards require all brands to offer formulas that are complete and nutritionally balanced to meet the needs of the consuming animal. Ingredients that are often used in dry pet foods include protein sources such as beef, chicken and eggs, as well as grains, cereals, vitamins and minerals, and antioxidants.
In production, these ingredients are mixed together and ground or pulverized into a consistent dough that can be cooked and either baked or extruded into the final product.
Conveying dry pet food ingredients and product: challenges
Producing dry pet food involves conveying ingredients for mixing and cooking, as well as moving finished product for packaging and bagging. Because some ingredients and virtually all finished product is friable and prone to dusting, conveyors which are capable of gentle handling while preventing fugitive dust emissions are preferred in production operations.
As with other food grade applications, additional factors to consider when choosing equipment for conveying dry pet food ingredients and product are the following:
- No spillage
- Energy efficiency
- Cleanability and sanitary performance
These factors directly impact operating costs and can compromise the quality of the final product as well as compliance with regulations and standards.
Conveying dry pet food ingredients and product: equipment solutions from UniTrak
UniTrak offers gentle handling continuous bucket elevators, flexible screw conveyors, and sanitary vertical belt conveyors that are purpose-built for addressing the challenges of conveying dry pet food ingredients and product.
TipTrak™ Open tube, PEC (fully enclosed) and Monocoque (fully sealed) continuous bucket elevators can convey dry pet food ingredients or product with little or no spillage. Where fugitive dust emissions must be completely controlled, the Monocoque model is the preferred choice. All three models feature fully interlocking bucket assemblies to prevent product spillage, and each model uses a rubber beltchain drive system to move product gently with no breakage or attrition. Each model can be supplied with a number of equipment options, including antimicrobial buckets, waterproof bearings to support washdown service, and Clean-In-Place systems for fast cleaning and turnaround. To keep operating costs low, each unit is driven by an energy efficient motor that ensures low energy consumption while the equipment is running.
UniFlex flexible screw conveyors feature a food-grade UHMW or steel casing/tube and stainless steel screw. These conveyors offer an economical way to move dry pet food ingredients and are particularly well-suited for batch-production environments. Each conveyor comes supplied with a standard receiving hopper or flanged inlet. A removable cleanout cap makes cleaning of the unit easy and fast.
In addition to standard UniFlex models, the Easy-Klean flexible screw conveyor features rounded surfaces for easy cleaning, plus a tilting mechanism that allows top of the conveyor to be dropped to waist height to make cleaning the discharge section much easier.
Finally, the KleanTrak sanitary vertical belt conveyor offers the highest standard in food safety risk mitigation. This inclined cleated belt conveyor is specifically engineered to overcome the challenges of sanitary conveying. With an FDA-approved sanitary cleated belt, open design for fast and easy in-place cleaning, washdown duty motor and sealed corrosion-resistant bearings, KleanTrak conveyors are a safe any hygienic solution for moving dry pet food ingredients and product.
To find out more about how UniTrak equipment can help your operation with the conveying of dry pet food ingredients and product, please contact our sales team directly.